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Homepage. This page: A vintage sepia photograph showing a Lea Francis of 1927/1928.

Lea-Francis Tourer.

This motoring photo originally featured in the 'mystery car photos' section of the site. John R identified it, despite the radiator being partially obscured, as a Lea-Francis 14/40 Tourer, circa 1927/1928 in age. He also thinks the coachwork may be by coachbuilder Cross & Ellis, if anyone can confirm or dispute this I'd appreciate it.
A 1920s Lea Francis car
Four people are shown with the Lea-Francis, or "Lea-F" for short, although no information about the people, or location of this scene, is known sadly. The tyres look a little muddy, so perhaps it had recently been driving through a muddy field, maybe on a picnic? The tourer's roof is folded, although the clip-in sidescreens are still in place. The young lady stood on the nearside running board has one foot perched on a two gallon Pratt's motor spirit fuel can. In the days before petrol pumps, motor spirit was distributed in these two gallon fuel tins, and are now quite collectable. Unusually (well almost) for a car in the 1920s, this Lea-F has tread visible on the front tyres - so many cars photographed back then had bald tyres, the sign that a new tyre was needed was usually when the first pieces of canvas began to appear through the tyre's sidewall!
In the background, a horse and cart (maybe the rag and bone man?), with another vintage tourer in the background, possibly a Jowett tourer, again of the 1920s. Note the road surface, with cobbles appearing here and there, and the decidedly wonky-looking pavement stones.
The Lea-Francis company can trace it's origins back to 1895, when the company's founders, namely Richard Lea and Graham Francis, founded a company to produce what are now regarded as some of the finest bicycles ever made. I know of a Lea-Francis bicycle near to where I live, and the attention to detail is superb. Their first motor-car was put on sale in 1903, but didn't catch on. Production of cars re-established itself in the 1920s, with the Lea-Francis Hyper sports-cars acquitting themselves well in competition, adding a certain kudos to the road cars' reputation for quality and reliability. Lea-Francis tourers, such as this one seen at Tatton Park, and another at a VSCC meeting at Curborough, both seen in recent times, sold well.
Despite these successes, the Depression of the early 1930s hit the firm hard and they went into receivership, only to be resurrected later in the decade with a design inspired by contemporary Rileys. Car production continued after the war, with both saloons, "woodie" estate cars and sports cars being manufactured, although by the late 50s public interest had dwindled and car production came to an end. Various attempts to re-ignite interest in the Lea-Francis marque have met with mixed success, the latest idea being to produce a two seater sports car, similar looking to BMW's Z3/Z4, with a slightly strange looking chrome grille fitted to the front.
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