We en­joy the Mor­ris Cowley and put it fully to the test

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Driving -


Bullnose Mor­ris own­ers are a hardy and ad­ven­tur­ous lot, and many still use their cars on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. And there’s no rea­son why you shouldn’t, as­sum­ing you’re not plan­ning on many (or any) fast roads. A Bullnose on a mo­tor­way would be rather fright­en­ing, and not just for its own oc­cu­pants. But stick to mi­nor roads and shorter dis­tances, and steer clear of rush hour, and the Cowley is per­fectly prac­ti­cal for shop­ping runs and gen­eral jaunts. You will need a sec­ond, more mod­ern ma­chine for more in­volved jour­neys, but keep a Cowley for the times when you want to turn a mun­dane trip into some­thing more fun.


There’s noth­ing com­plex about the Cowley’s en­gi­neer­ing – even the fuel sys­tem is sim­ply grav­ity-fed, with the fuel tank placed up high in the engine bay al­low­ing petrol to just trickle into the ba­sic car­bu­ret­tor. If you’re me­chan­i­cally savvy, then you shouldn’t find any­thing to test you. Even if you’re not that handy with tools, this presents a great op­por­tu­nity to learn, on some­thing much less com­pli­cated than a more re­cent ve­hi­cle. Your big­gest test may be find­ing parts – which is where join­ing an or­gan­i­sa­tion like the Bullnose Mor­ris Club will pay div­i­dends, as you’ll be able to tap into the ex­per­tise of its mem­bers.


Well, this is a no-brainer. What self-re­spect­ing clas­sic car show wouldn’t wel­come a Bullnose Mor­ris? Whether you’re ex­hibit­ing in­di­vid­u­ally or as part of a group, a car like this would be fully em­braced by or­gan­is­ers and pun­ters alike, be­cause it’s a truly his­toric ve­hi­cle. Vis­i­tors will de­light in a ma­chine that they’re un­likely to en­counter any­where else and only a very few will re­mem­ber as an old car in ev­ery­day use. And if you can form up a dis­play with part of a club group, so much the bet­ter – it’s a great way to show off just how many vari­a­tions of Mor­ris Cowley and Oxford were built. You’ll get no peace and quiet from cu­rios­ity all day.


Here’s where re­stric­tions ap­ply. If there’s just two of you, and you’re not ven­tur­ing ter­ri­bly far, then go ahead. You’ll be snug in the two-seater cabin, and your lug­gage can sit in the rear dickey seat cav­ity. It’s sur­pris­ingly com­modi­ous in there, and there’s al­ways the fur­ther op­tion of a rear-mounted trunk. How­ever, if you plan on more than a cou­ple of peo­ple, mon­i­tor the weather fore­cast care­fully and limit your­self to sum­mer ad­ven­tures, for that rear dickey seat is the only op­tion. And it can fast lose its nov­elty in a sud­den cold rain squall. The lack of any locks may be a prob­lem too. But would any mod­ern car thief have any idea how to start one of these any­way?


This is where a vin­tage ve­hi­cle truly comes into its own. It’s the ideal en­vi­ron­ment, be­cause B-roads were what this car was built for, so it’s the clos­est you can get to re­liv­ing the typ­i­cal 1920s driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. A gen­tle am­ble (rather than a blast) down coun­try lanes, at a speed more suited to the Mor­ris’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties, age and han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics, will be more com­fort­able for every­body in­volved. You’ll feel just as un­stressed as the Bullnose. Newer cars may bunch up be­hind you even­tu­ally, but you’ll find that most driv­ers will be quite de­lighted to find them­selves tem­po­rar­ily stuck be­hind some­thing of such char­ac­ter and in­ter­est.

The side­valve started life as an up­graded Hotchkiss copy of an Amer­i­can Con­ti­nen­tal. Coupé body­work means a long tail. Two peo­ple can squeeze into the dickey seat. Ac­com­mo­da­tion for two in­side. US-style cen­trally-mounted gear­stick and hand­brake wasn’t usual prac­tice for UK cars.


The Bell and Parks fam­i­lies for all their as­sis­tance with this ar­ti­cle. This 1926 ‘match­ing num­bers’ orig­i­nal spec Mor­ris Cowley is cur­rently for sale for £19,200.

■ Con­tact Keith Parks on 07766 795665

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