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Homepage. This page: A fascinating set of photographs featuring a Crossley Streamline motor-car of 1935.

Crossley Streamline.

I bought these Crossley photographs off the internet two or three years ago. The vendor was selling a large number of motoring photographs, batched up into separate Lots by car registration. Amongst the Lots of Austin and Morris photos were these seven fascinating old photos, unidentified, but clearly all featuring a somewhat time-worn example of Crossley Streamline. Only twenty or so examples are believed to have been built, so I was very pleased to secure this small collection of rare images.
The Streamlines were powered by a rear-mounted six cylinder engine, producing 61bhp according to contemporary paperwork. The example featured in these photographs was registered CLB 844, a London issue confirming that this Streamline was registered late 1935, or early 1936 in the London area.
At first I thought these were probably photographs of a car being subjected to a road test by a motoring journalist. However, given the number of modifications that appear to have taken place, and the presence of various aftermarket badges attached to the Crossley, I suspect that the car was in private ownership. Judging by the condition of it in these photos, I don't think it led a particularly easy life.
Photograph number one shows the Crossley parked on a grass verge, perhaps waiting for the rear-mounted engine to cool down. A substantial adjustable spot lamp, mounted on the passenger side of the scuttle, suggests that perhaps the owner(s) were keen on a spot of night rallying. Note the filthy coachwork.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
Crossley Streamline car.
The second photograph shows the car, still dirty, parked in a suburban setting. The driver's door window has been wound down, and the offside front hubcap has disappeared. The Crossley Streamline was based on the earlier Burney Streamline Car of 1929, an advanced design by Sir Charles Dennistoun Burney. The windcheating shape of the bodywork was inspired by airship design, notably the R100 airship which was produced by the Airship Guarantee Company in Howden, of which Burney was Managing Director.
Side view of the Crossley Streamline motorcar.
Next, a head-on photograph of the same car. An Automobile Association (AA) badge has been fitted to the radiator cap, while an RAC badge can be seen attached to the front bumper. A winged J.C.C. badge is also fitted. The J.C.C. (Junior Car Club) started out in life as The Cyclecar Club, a group that organised many events at, and around, Brooklands. The name was changed to the Junior Car Club in 1919, and initially catered for owners of light cars - ie four seat cars weighing less than 15cwt, or two seat cars weighing less than 13cwt. Engines were limited in size to 1500cc (four stroke), or 1100cc (two stroke). Again this is evidence to suggest that the Crossley's owner had an interest in motor sport.
Head-on view of the car.
Photograph number four shows a rear 3/4 view of the Crossley, the distinctive streamlined tail on this example incorporating a large number of air vents. Some period photographs of the Streamline show engine covers devoid of any cooling vents, however as cooling was marginal at best, I suspect the later cars (1935 build) came with vents as standard. The car is again shown parked on a grassy verge. It looks like liquid - coolant perhaps - has been escaping from the engine, spraying out from beneath the engine cover and down the rear mudguards.
The nearside running board is in quite a bad way. Also note the fuel filler assembly incorporated within the side of the body. Other cars I've seen photos of have a simple filler cap, this car looks to have had its filler neck extended up the side of the body. Perhaps the owner wasn't keen on bending down when filling up with motor spirit, or else the cap had a tendency to leak during fast cornering. Interestingly, the rear track on the Streamline was 13" narrower than that at the front.
Rear view of the Crossley.
The following photograph shows the Crossley's engine cover in the raised position, perhaps in a bid to help cool the engine down. Note the Crossley badge affixed to the offside rear mudguard.
Crossley Streamline's engine.
And the car with the engine cover back in position. Coolant has been leaking down both rear mudguards. I've not seen a Streamline with this type of double rear bumper before either.
Bonnet down.
The final photograph of this car again shows the car parked in suburbia. What happened to this car? did it survive the war? or did its hard life lead it to an early one-way trip to the breaker's yard?
Front view of the Crossley car.
Two examples are known to exist - one car is at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu (reg. BGU 217), while the "Motor" road test car (reg. ANB 487) survives in private hands.

An interesting old hangar with Crossley connections.

The Crossley family's aircraft hangar
As I've mentioned before on one of the other vintage Crossley photo pages, a short distance from where I sit resides this anonymous corrugated tin building. At first I hadn't realised its significance, but during a conversation with a local chap, he mentioned that the owners of the Crossley motor car company once lived up the road. This I knew, but I didn't know that the old tin building on a neighbouring field had been used as a hangar by the company's owner. Some time later, John H dropped me a line. He's a Crossley historian, and supplied the following information:
Combermere Abbey: it was bought in 1918 by Sir Kenneth Irwin Crossley (born 1877), eldest son of Sir William Crossley, the joint founder (with his brother, Frank) of Crossley Brothers Ltd, from which Crossley Motors was spun off in 1910. Crossley Brothers had built the cars since early 1904, and production of the cars was getting too much for the original company (whose main product was gas engines) to cope with. Basically, the cars got in the way.
Sir Kenneth, who, in 1901, had married Josť (Josephine) Field, of a wealthy Chicago family, was not really an engineer, though he was Chairman of both companies, having inherited this position on the death of his father in 1911. He prided himself, not without reason, in choosing the best men to run the businesses for him. He moved to Combermere in 1918 from Mobberley Hall, near Knutsford. He took up flying in 1931, buying a De Havilland Gipsy Moth registered G-AAKC (personalised registrations are nothing new!). Four more aircraft followed, the last being a De Havilland Hornet Moth (G-ADKC) which he kept until the War, and which, I believe, is still flying! Sir Kenneth had an airstrip in the field -- is it at the end of the driveway to Combermere Abbey? -- and a shed in which to house his plane. I believe his flying lessons were based at Woodford aerodrome, and I suspect that, when he obtained his pilot's licence, he flew there on the way to the factories in Gorton. So your local informant is right! Incidentally, one of his three daughters also became a pilot at the same time, and took part in the 1931 King's Cup Air Race. Sir Kenneth died in 1957, three years after his wife.
I understand that Combermere Abbey is still in the Crossley family.
Thanks to John H for sending this information over some time ago now, I think this old tin shed should be preserved!
Return to Page 13 in the classic & vintage car photo gallery.

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