1926 Crossley 18/50 Tourer
One of 12 cars specially made for the 1927 Royal Tour of Australia and one of only four surviving; 3.2-litre engine and all other major mechanical parts rebuilt; was running and driving recently; straightforward project
Originally winning fame for their engine building skills (they were the first company in Britain to make engines using the Otto principle), Crossley Brothers of Gorton, Manchester, built their first complete car in 1904. But the model that really put them on the map was the A W Reeves-designed 20hp, introduced in 1910. Its finest hour came in World War I when it performed sterling service as a staff car, ambulance, and light truck, establishing such a reputation that it also attracted customers like King George V, The Prince of Wales, the Kings of Spain and Siam and Emperor Hirohito of Japan.
At the 1925 Olympia Show, things got even better when Crossley revealed their first six-cylinder model, the 18/50. Initially of 2.6-litre capacity, the engine was enlarged to 3.2-litres in 1928 when the car was rebranded as the 20.9. This remained in production until 1937 when Crossley ceased making cars to concentrate on armoured and heavy goods vehicles for the military.
The 18/50 on offer here is particularly interesting as it is one of 12 which were specially made for the 1927 Royal Tour of Australia by Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI) and his wife Elizabeth. These consisted of four limousines, two landaulettes and six open tourers, all painted maroon with maroon upholstery and decorated with the Royal seal on the rear doors. All were specially fitted with the 3.2-litre engine that was later fitted to the 20.9 and only four are known to survive today: one is in the Australian National Museum in Canberra (a landaulette), a limousine body exists on a tourer chassis in Sydney, and the third car in Victoria has survived with minimal remains of its tourer body.
Known as car 'J’, this tourer (chassis number 40248) was used on the Victoria, Canberra and Toowoomba legs of the Royal Tour during April and May of 1927 before the Royal party moved on to New Zealand where they had another fleet of seven Crossleys at their disposal – how the other half lives! Car 'J' was sold into private ownership via the Crossley dealer in Canberra. A USB stick on file contains many interesting photos of the Royal Tour and the fleet of Crossleys.
In 1997 the car was bought back to the UK at the behest of Julian Ghosh, by which point it was a complete rolling chassis but had lost its bodywork and interior (as shown in photos on file). It was then inspected by Malcolm Jenner of the Crossley Register who was able to verify the provenance of the car (as detailed in correspondence on file).
Shortly afterwards it was bought by a Crossley Club member in Powys who set about restoring it. A professional carpenter by trade, he first set about a full chassis restoration which included correct enamelling of all parts. The axles were rebuilt, including the rear which had new bearings fitted.
The engine was also fully rebuilt, including new white-metal to the mains and big ends, along with new pistons, water pump and a starter rebuild etc. The gearbox was rebuilt with new bearings and is joined to the axle by a modern propshaft. The brakes were fully refurbished with new linings and a new fuel tank made using the original supports.
Handy with his chisels, he also skilfully made a new ash frame which is ready for skinning in aluminium and has been carefully profiled in a ‘sporting’ style - one can already see what a handsome car it will be when complete. There are no invoices for all this work (some of which was farmed out to professionals) but the results are plain to see.
In 2018 the still-unfinished car was acquired by our vendor who fitted a new black Perspex instrument panel, new rear D-lights plus various other items. He reports that the car is now in running order, having had the carburettor rebuilt, electrics checked and a small external fuel tank plumbed in. The engine sounds in good health and the car has been successfully driven on private land (videos available).
It will be up to the lucky new owner to source the wings, hood and upholstery still required, but all the hard work has already been done to a good standard. There is no V5C with the car so that will also need to be sorted, although the Crossley Register is well aware of the car and will gladly give any extra information to help get it registered – their aim being to get as many of these cars on the road as possible.
A wonderful project for someone, this historic machine comes with a good file of technical literature to help get it finished and is being offered here at a fraction of the costs lavished upon it to date.
Documents: Crossley Register correspondence; technical literature; copy handbook; historic photos etc.
For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or email [email protected]
* All charges are subject to VAT