The Cowley name has an interesting and complex history and was given to several Morris cars, featuring from 1915 to 1958. The first car to use the name was the 1915 Cowley, sometimes known as the ‘bullnose’.
It featured a 1495cc four cylinder American engine, along with several other American running gear parts. These parts were originally selected due to the American parts being cheaper to buy, but world war one badly affected the supplies of these parts.
Due to the impact of the war, the 1919 Morris Cowley had to change engine supplier to the French Hotchkiss Company, which was incidentally based upon the 1495cc American engine of the previous Cowley.
In 1926 the next version of the Cowley began production, with the most notable change being that it had got rid of the ‘bullnose’ radiator and replaced it with a flat nose style more fashionable at the time. New suspension and drum brakes were added to the car to keep it up to date, and the chassis was modified again in 1931.
The next generation of Cowley’s spanned from 1931 to 1950 with not much changing mechanically or aesthetically. There was now a larger 1802cc engine available and the four seat tourers were scrapped from the line-up.
The 1954-1959 Morris Cowley was probably the most known and most significant of the range.
This Cowley was a basic version of the Morris Oxford, without such luxuries as a heater. Smaller front brakes were used and early models were only made available with a 1200cc engine. In this time frame the Morris was converted into two types of commercial vehicle, a van and a pick-up. The pick-up was sold in Australia and known as a Morris Cowley Utility, and is an early example of a ‘ute.
The latest Cowley also provided the base for Hindustan Ambassador. The Ambassador started production in India in 1958 and is still being produced now. Although engines have changed and style has been modified slightly, the basic underpinnings remain the same.