Morris Oxford

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Morris Oxford
Morris Oxford Series V as in early Pinifarina 1489cc mfd 1959.JPG
Oxford Series V Saloon 1959
Manufacturer Morris Motors
British Motor Corporation
British Leyland
Production 1913-1914
Body and chassis
Class Small car

Morris Oxford is a series of motor car models produced by Morris Motors of the United Kingdom, from the 1913 bullnose Oxford to the Farina Oxfords V and VI.

Named by W R Morris after the city of dreaming spires, the university town in which he grew up, the manufacture of Morris's Oxford cars would turn Oxford into an industrial city.

From 1913 to mid-1935 Oxford cars grew in size and quantity. In 1923 they with the Cowley cars were 28.1 per cent of British private car production. In 1925 Morris sold near double the number and they represented 41 per cent of British production. Meanwhile Oxfords grew larger from the first 1018 cc, Nine horsepower, two-seater car to the last 2½-litre Twenty horsepower car.

The model name was recycled in 1948 and lasted almost another 23 years through to 1971 but in this time the market sector and engine-size remained nearly constant between 1476 cc and 1622 cc.

Oxford bullnose 1913–14[edit]

Oxford bullnose
MHV Morris Oxford 1913.jpg
Oxford 2-seater 1913
Manufacturer W R M Motors Limited


  • standard: 495
  • deluxe: 980
total: 1,475[1]
Assembly Oxford
Designer W R Morris
Body and chassis
Class open 2-seater
Body style
  • standard

2-door open 2-seater torpedo

body colour: pearl grey
upholstery: green pleated and buttoned leather, red on early cars

a plainer narrower-bodied Commercial variant was available

  • de luxe

2-door open 2-seater torpedo
delivery van*** mahogany panelled
coupé cabriolet
sporting car*** speedometer standard, disc wheels optional

body colour: 2-seater dark green, others to choice
upholstery: green leather, coupés Bedford cord

***no windscreen and no door
Layout front engine rear wheel drive
Related Cowley
Engine W&P 1018 cc side-valve Straight-4

gear change lever: in gate outside body by driver's right hand
clutch: W&P 36 later 34 plates in oil made of hardened steel and bronze
gearbox: W&P in unit with clutch and engine 3 speeds and reverse

drive is sent, through a universal joint behind the gearbox, by shaft enclosed in a torque tube to the back axle with an overhead Wrigley worm
  • standard

84 in (2,100 mm)
track 40 in (1,000 mm) soon increased to 42 in (1,100 mm)[2]

  • de luxe

90 in (2,300 mm)

track 45 in (1,100 mm)[2]
  • 126 in (3,200 mm)
  • 132 in (3,400 mm)[2]
  • 47 in (1,200 mm)
  • 50 in (1,300 mm)[2]
Height roof up or roof down or closed car
Kerb weight
  • 558 kg (1,230 lb)[2]
  • 635 kg (1,400 lb)[2]
Predecessor none
Successor Hotchkiss engined car
White & Poppe[2]
60 X 90 X 4
Manufacturer White & Poppe Limited, Lockhurst Lane, Coventry
  • 1913: 393
  • 1914: 909
  • 1915: 173
total: 1,475
Combustion chamber
Configuration 4 in-line
Displacement 1,017.8 cc (62 cu in)
Cylinder bore 60 mm (2.4 in)
Piston stroke 90 mm (3.5 in)
Cylinder block alloy iron, cast en bloc, fixed head
pistons: cast iron
crankshaft: carbon steel
main bearings: three white metal in bronze shells
Cylinder head alloy fixed, iron, cast en bloc with block, detachable valve caps
Valvetrain side valve T-head
camshafts each side crankcase
adjustable tappets
Fuel system carburettor W&P No. 25
magneto: Bosch type ZF4
later cars Mea
plugs: Bosch
Fuel type petrol
Oil system main bearings: by galleries from oil flung off the flywheel
big-ends: splash
Cooling system water
circulated by thermo-siphon
no fan
Power output 16.4 bhp (12.2 kW; 16.6 PS) @2,400 rpm
(observed, not a maximum)
Tax horsepower 9
Torque output 35.7 pound force-feet (48 N·m) @2,400 rpm
Predecessor none
Successor Hotchkiss

William Morris's first car was called Oxford in recognition of its home city. It was announced in The Autocar magazine in October 1912 and production began in March 1913.[2] Because he had a limited amount of capital and was unwilling to share ownership of his business little was made in-house. Virtually all components were bought-in and assembled by Morris. It was a small car with a 1018 cc four-cylinder side-valve engine with fixed cylinder head from White & Poppe. Ignition was by a Bosch magneto.[3]

The chassis made by Rubery Owen was of pressed-steel construction and suspension was by leaf springs, semi-elliptic at the front and longer three-quarter elliptic at the rear slung above the axle. The welded single piece banjo rear axle with splined half shafts was driven by a Wrigley Worm. The front axle was of forged steel and, like the back axle assembly and the steering, was made by Wrigley. The brakes, on the rear wheels only, were the external contracting type, metal to metal, using four shoes in each drum. A White & Poppe three-forward and reverse gearbox was fitted. The Powell & Hanmer headlamps were acetylene and the side and tail lamps oil. The windscreen, by Auster Limited of Barford Street, Birmingham, like the lamps was classed as an accessory.[2]

The car got its popular name, Bullnose, from its distinctive round-topped radiator at first called the bullet nose. Most bodies, made by Raworth of Oxford, were of the two-seat open-tourer type, there was also a van version, but the chassis did not allow four-seat bodies to be fitted, it was not strong enough and too short.[4]

Production = 495[2]
White & Poppe engined standard Oxfords
cars produced


Bullnose de luxe[edit]

It was first displayed at the Olympia Motor Show which opened 7 November 1913. The standard model remained in production unchanged. The new de luxe had a longer wheelbase, 90 in (2,300 mm), and track was now 45 in (1,100 mm).[2]

The range of bodies was now expanded from the simple two-seater to include even a limousine and a sporting car which, like the vans, had no windscreen or doors but was provided with a speedometer as a standard fitting.[2]

Its front axle and steering had been re-designed to reduce "bump-steer"and its radiator capacity increased. Grooved tyres were now supplied at the rear. The banjo back axle was no longer welded but built up from three pieces and its springs were now slung below it.[2]

Production = 980[2]
White & Poppe engined de luxe Oxfords
cars produced


Trial of the Morris-Oxford Light Car[edit]

In April 1914 interested readers of The Times were asked to remember the suggested solution to anxiety amongst British manufacturers brought about by the influx of cheaper American vehicles. The suggestion was to have British firms co-operate producing a certain part or parts of the complete mechanism later assembled and sold by a joint undertaking. The Morris-Oxford Light Car, it was explained to readers, was produced on a similar principle. The engine clutch and gearbox were from the works of White & Poppe, the rear axle and the rest of the transmission from Wrigley's.[5]

Of his trial The Times's correspondent reported happy results. Everything was characterised by extreme "up-to-dateness" and the vehicle lacked scarcely any amenity of the largest and most expensive car.

  • engine: "runs reasonably sweetly at all speeds" despite its small size requiring extremely high r.p.m. to provide full power
  • flexibility: as little as 4 m.p.h. could be handled in top direct gear. When the throttle is opened the engine gives better acceleration than might be expected
  • speed: the greatest speed on level ground was little short of 50 m.p.h.
  • roadholding: it holds the road very comfortably when travelling fast
  • frame distortion due to rough roads: is not communicated to the single unit of the engine, multiple-disc clutch mechanism and gearbox
  • gearbox: gear changes were easy and quiet at all speeds but the gears themselves were noisy on all but top gear
  • clutch: free of chatter or jar it worked easily and sweetly
  • worm-driven rear axle: makes the transmission when in top gear "as noiseless as in the largest and most luxurious vehicles"
  • brakes: both hand and foot brakes applied directly to the rear wheels. The car pulled up swiftly, completely free of harshness
  • accelerator pedal: controls the engine speed. An ingenious device allows the setting of slow running by screwing the head of the pedal on its stem
  • comfort: well sprung it leaves little to be desired by driver or passenger when compared to others of its class despite the short wheelbase
  • steering: is easy
  • body: seats two people comfortably, the makers have "realised the importance of an eyeable and practical neatness"
  • windscreen: single folding. Windscreen brackets support the side lamps and anchor the hood straps
  • equipment: 2 acetylene head lights, 3 oil lamps (side and tail), horn, pump, jack, tools and a spare detachable wheel.
  • wheels: Sankey steel[5]

"In general the Morris-Oxford car showed itself to be a speedy and sweet running little car with good hill-climbing powers and an unusual quality of engine flexibility. It is free from any trickiness in handling and is characterised by a general robustness of construction which is very commendable"[5]


The American engined Continental Cowley, with most other significant components US sourced, shown to the press in April 1915, was a 50 percent larger engined (1495 cc against 1018 cc), longer, wider and better equipped version of this Morris Oxford with the same "Bullnose" radiator.[2]

The Cowley's stronger and larger construction could carry a four-passenger body.[2]

Oxford bullnose 1919–26[edit]

Oxford bullnose
1925 Morris Oxford 'bullnose' Tourer at Felbrigg Hall.jpg
Four-seater tourer on new long wheelbase chassis 1925
Production 1919–26
Body and chassis
Body style 4-seat tourer
Engine 69.5 x 102mm CA & CB or
75 x 102mm CE
1548 cc 11.9 hp side-valve Straight-4
1802 cc 13.9 hp side-valve Straight-4 14/28[6]
Wheelbase 102 in (2,600 mm) [7]
108 in (2,700 mm) from 1925[7]
Length 156 in (4,000 mm) Oxford Six[7]
Hotchkiss / Morris 11.9
(CA and CB)
Morris 14/28 (CE)
Manufacturer Hotchkiss & Cie. Gosford Street Coventry until May 1923, works thereafter under the ownership of Morris Engines Limited[1]

(for Morris Oxford)

  • 11.9: 1919 to 1926
  • 14/28: 1923 to 1930
Combustion chamber
Configuration straight-4 cast en bloc with upper crankcase[1]
  • 1.548 L (94.5 cu in)[1]
  • 1.802 L (110.0 cu in) (14/28)[1]
Cylinder bore
  • 75 mm (3.0 in) (14/28)[1]
  • 69.5 mm (2.74 in)[1]
Piston stroke 102 mm (4.0 in)[1]
Cylinder block alloy cast-iron
3-bearing crankshaft
pistons: cast-iron
crankshaft: steel stamping, bronze backed white metal bearings, sump cast aluminium[1]
Cylinder head alloy cast-iron detachable
copper asbestos sandwich gasket[1]
Valvetrain side valve L-head, helical timing gears, camshaft in two plain bearings operating valves by mushroom head tappets, single valve springs[1]
Fuel system


  • 1919-1921 Zenith
  • 1922 S.U.
  • 1923-1926 Smith (various)

exhaust: 3-port

  • 4-port from February 1922

magneto: helical bevel drive

  • 1919 Thomson-Bennett G4*
  • 1920 B T-H
  • 1921-23 Lucas E4
  • 1924-26 Lucas GA4[1]
Fuel type petrol
Oil system main bearings and camshaft gear: pressure lubricated by plunger pump from camshaft
big ends: splash[1]
Cooling system water thermosyphon,
fan assisted
radiator 1919 by Randle, thereafter by Osberton[1]
Power output

not published

  • tax rating 11.9hp[1]
  • tax rating 13.9hp (14/28)[1]
Predecessor White & Poppe 60 X 90 X 4

The 1919 Oxford (advertised as early as September 1918) was assembled from locally made components and now took on the rather more substantial aspect of 1915's Cowley. Longer and stronger than the old Oxford, enough to carry five passengers, the new Oxford retained the pre-war Bullnose radiator style in its larger version.[1]

From August 1919, the Cowley became the downmarket "no frills" variant with only a 2-seater body and lighter smaller tyres. The Oxford had a self-starter (an extra for the Cowley) and a better electrical system and the Oxford took and kept the Cowley's leather upholstery.[8]

The new car's 11.9 fiscal horsepower 1548 cc engine was made under licence in Coventry for Morris by a British branch of Hotchkiss the French ordnance company which was turning away from guns to the motor industry. The Hotchkiss engine used the Cowley's Detroit USA Continental Motors Company design. Hotchkiss prices well undercut White and Poppe who had made Oxford engines up to that time. Morris bought Hotchkiss's British factory in May 1923 and named it Morris Engines.[1]

When it was shown at the Scottish Motor Show in January 1920 it drew large crowds of enthusiasts all day. The chassis alone was shown and was genuinely admired for the way all transmission, everything revolving, was fully enclosed in what amounts to an oil bath, everything but the fan belt.[9] A few weeks later after a lengthy trial of the new car The Times' motoring reporter explained to his readers that the result is no undershield is needed to keep out dust and grit and went on to tell them these other salient points. The detachable cylinder head is removable in a matter of minutes. Clutch and gearbox do an excellent job, brakes are smooth and powerful. The engine is powerful and has an unusually even and sweet pull. The solidly constructed chassis has "really excellent suspension". The car holds the road at any speed, it will reach 50mph, with the same steadiness as cars of twice the weight and price.[8]

Though he did complain that it is difficult to check the level of the battery acid; that there is no hand operated throttle and that it is difficult to access the chain drive to the combined dynamo-starter to adjust its tension.[8]

Summing up he wrote that the car represents "a very decided advance in light car construction". The common sense of the designers is shown in many small details but "its greatest charm is in the engine's steam-like flexibility" and liveliness. In these respects it was the best engine the writer had ever encountered.[8]

Very high-speed engine[edit]

In July 1921 The Times reported on one of "the best makes of British light car of modern design" writing that the 11.9hp Morris Oxford could attain a speed of around 45 miles an hour on the level. Indeed the car ran up Arms Hill, a gradient of about 1 in 4, "without flinching". Though the day was hot there was no suggestion of the engine boiling. While the engine balance proved good the vibration of this very high-speed engine was not limited at all speeds and more insulation between engine and frame might have an adequate damping effect. The steering is steady and pleasingly light but, the steering box being attached to the engine, vibration is easily conveyed to the steering wheel. Yet this system does give the steering a feeling of solidity and a freedom from road shocks.[10]

The report said there should be a filter on the oil filler. The separate engine clutch and gearbox mean there are three fillers and three oil drain plugs without any telltale on the dash. Though the driver's seat has its own door — there is a central gear change and central brake control — access is not easy and the door should be widened. Feet get very hot on a hot day. The brake lever when off is too far from the driver and the change speed lever too close. The driver's sleeve was caught up by the gear control with each reach for the spark lever set just below the steering wheel.[10]

The Morris-Cowley costs £140 less. It is similar but without a starter and has cheaper lighting and simpler body finish. Either model should have strong appeal for an owner-driver. The make is popular, 100 cars are made each week, the demand considerably exceeds supply.[10]


In 1923 the engine was enlarged to 13.9 fiscal horsepower, 1802 cc.[11] This became known as the 14/28 engine. In 1925 it got a longer wheelbase chassis to move it further from the Cowley, and four-wheel brakes.[11] This model of the Oxford would be the basis of the first MG, the 14/28 Super Sports.

Reviewed by The Times in March 1924 the enlarged engine was reported to be "commendably flexible" and quiet. It seemed to enjoy being made to turn over at high speed and that happened easily, certainly it had plenty of "courage". The oil filler's lid holds a dipper rod and forms a breather but there is still no filter at this point. The main strainer can only be withdrawn after removing a plug in the bottom of the sump. The clutch was good. There is no safety stop for reverse but the gear box was pronounced the chief delight on the car, it is "simple, quiet and expeditious". The accelerator is too sensitive. As before the brake handle was too far away. The car was "easy to travel in". Difficult to avoid on an 8' 6" wheelbase but passengers' coats sweep dusty or muddy wings on entry and exit. The dynamotor (starter-dynamo) sings (gently) at speed. For the price the equipment is very full.[12]

L to R, the distant handbrake, the interfering change-speed lever and the under-wheel spark control. Before the steering column is a smokers' companion and the dash displays a fuel gauge

At the next October's Olympia Motor Show the cars were shown with front wheel brakes, to a design by Rubury, as an optional extra at £10. The brake pedal now applied all four-wheel brakes, a separate hand lever controlled brakes at the rear. The list of accessories provided as standard equipment now extended to a 12 months full insurance policy. The reporter advised the driver's entrance appeared somewhat cramped. The claimed brake horsepower was 30.[13]

At the Motor Show 1925 the 14/28 power output was reported to be 34 bhp and four-wheel brakes were standard, the same car had Barker dipping headlamps and thermostatic control of its engine's cooling water.[14]

The Times tried the 14/28 again and reported to its readers in mid January 1926 that while there may now be better designs of light car the 14/28 represented great value for money and still came with insurance for its first twelve months. A petrol gauge on the dash and an "automatic screen wiper", two horns and a proper rear windscreen. There was still no filter in the oil filler. The same complaints were made as in previous reports yet the car's general behaviour on the road was considered "praiseworthy".[15]

Red Flash 1925
Brooklands racing special
MG 14/28 Super Sports 1925
Enamelled badge on an early MG car.jpg

Production of both Cowley and Oxford bullnose vehicles[edit]

All bullnose
cars produced
Total = 154,244

1926 mid-year switch to flatnose

Oxford Six F-type bullnose[edit]

Oxford F-Type Silent Six
1921 Morris F-Type Silent Six Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon.jpg
William Morris's personal Oxford Silent Six
Production 1922-1923
Body and chassis
Body style
  • two-seater tourer
  • four-seater tourer
  • cabriolet
  • saloon[16]
Related Morris Oxford Morris Cowley
Engine 69.5 x 102mm 2322 cc 17.97 hp side-valve Straight-6[17]
Wheelbase 111 in (2,800 mm) [7]
Length 156 in (4,000 mm) [7]

A short-lived 17 hp six-cylinder variant, The F-Type Oxford Six, was displayed for the first time as a four seated cabriolet at the November 1922 Olympia Motor Show.[18]

The first open four-seater tourer was sold to Lord Redesdale. Only 50 were made and, after the initial run, they were assembled to special order. It remained available until 1926.

The 2320 cc engine, it had six pistons from the 11.9, 1548 cc engine, proved unreliable, two intense vibration periods weakened and broke crankshafts and few were sold.

Although the car was longer than the four cylinder Oxford by 9 inches (230 mm) all the extra space was given over to the engine.[11]

Oxford Six F-type bullnose
cars produced


Oxford flatnose 1926–30[edit]

Oxford flatnose
1927 Morris Oxford 1697cc Flat Nose.jpg
Oxford 4-door saloon 1927
Production 1926–30 (4-cylinder)
32,282 made.[19]
Body and chassis
Body style

4-door tourer

  • 4-door saloon
  • 4-door fabric saloon
  • 2-door coupé
  • chassis only
Engine 1802 cc side-valve Straight-4
Wheelbase 106.5 in (2,710 mm)[20]

The distinctive bullnose radiator was dropped in 1926 in an updated version of the car. The engines remained the same but a new range of bodies was offered including all-steel saloons.[11]

The frame was changed to allow half-elliptic springs to be fitted in place of the old three-quarter elliptic springs. The back end of the frame was given a deeper channel section, it now sweeps up over the rear axle. The frame also receives bracing from the running board brackets and cross hangers.[20]

The radiator cooling surface has been increased sixty per cent and the whole assembly given the flat-fronted shape which would lead to this car's popular name.[20]

A new all-steel dash or bulkhead now creates a firm location for bodywork and a solid support for the petrol tank. As part of that redesign a new instrument panel is provided with neatly grouped meters and glove boxes either side. The hand controls on the steering column have been upgraded. There is now a dash-operated ventilator.[20]

Equipment includes:[20]

  • dash-operated ventilator
  • adjustable shock absorbers
  • luggage grid
  • dipping headlamps
  • non-glare instrument illumination.
4-door tourer registered October 1927
2-seater drophead coupé registered Jun 1927

Oxford 15.9[edit]

Oxford 15.9
Morris Oxford 2-seater 8000256490.jpg
open two-seater 1928
Manufacturer Morris Motors Limited[20][21]
Production 1926-29
Body and chassis
Body style
  • 4-door tourer
  • 4-door saloon
  • chassis only
Engine 2513 cc side-valve Straight-4 mounted in unit with clutch and gearbox at three points to the chassis frame[21]
Transmission clutch: single-plate, gearbox: 4-speed, universal metal joint to propeller shaft in torque tube, final drive by overhead worm to three-quarter floating axle.[21]

114 in (2,900 mm)

  • track 56 in (1,400 mm)[21]
Length 161 in (4,089.4 mm)*
Width 48 in (1,219.2 mm)*

73 in (1,854.2 mm)*

* = "shipping dimensions"
Kerb weight 2,912 lb (1,321 kg) tourer
Predecessor none
Successor Oxford 16/40
Oxford 15.9
Manufacturer Morris Engines Limited
Combustion chamber
Configuration straight-4 cast en bloc with upper crankcase[22]
  • 2.513 L (153.4 cu in)[23]
Cylinder bore
  • 80 mm (3.1 in)[23]
Piston stroke 125 mm (4.9 in)[23]
Cylinder block alloy cast-iron
3-bearing crankshaft
pistons: aluminium alloy
crankshaft: three bearings[20] connecting rods: duralumin[22]
Cylinder head alloy cast-iron detachable[20]
Valvetrain side by side valves, camshaft (with dynamo and magneto) driven by spiral gearing from crankshaft[21]
Fuel system Smith carburettor, scuttle tank filled from rear by Autovac[22]
Fuel type petrol
Oil system forced feed throughout[21]
Cooling system water, impeller for circulation
assisted by 4-blade fan[21][22]
honeycomb radiator[22]
Power output

not published

  • tax rating 15.87hp[23]

The 2½-litre Oxford 15.9 Empire model was displayed as "a Colonial Chassis" at the Olympia Motor Show of October 1926. A complete car was on display at nearby main dealers.[20]

The standard coachwork is a four or five seater body with four doors. The driving seat, the rake of the steering, the positioning of the clutch and brake pedals are all adjustable.[21] Gears are controlled by a central flexible lever operating in a visible gate and there is a catch for reverse.[22]

Steering is carried out through a worm and complete wheel in a box screwed to the frame. New gear positions are available at a low price.[22] The brake pedal operates internally expanding brakes on all four wheels, the handbrake operates at the back using separate shoes. The brake drums are enclosed.[22] Standard fittings include a spare (steel artillery) wheel and tyre. Shock absorbers are provided.[21] There are semi-elliptic springs all round, flat set at the front. The rear springs are underhung. Cross-braced by three direct members the chassis channel-section side members are narrowed at the front and and rise over the back axle[22]

The car can be driven safely through 20 inches, 510 mm, of water. The ground clearance is 10¼ inches, 260 mm. A full 11 inches, 278 mm, is allowed at the forward running board bracket cross stay. This clearance is now greater than on many American cars. This "falsifies hostile propaganda to the contrary".[21]

Equipment includes dipping headlamps for use during fog and to prevent dazzle of other motorists controlled by a lever on the right of the driver.[22]

The motoring correspondent of The Times reported as follows. The car is well finished for £375. For export the finish might be cheaper with less nickel inside. There were draughts at the bottom of the rear doors. The brakes were effective but might respond more quickly. The change-speed was delightful to handle and there could be no complaints about the clutch action. The comfortable maximum is about 55 mph.[22]

The chassis alone costs £245, the five-seated tourer £325.[22]

The following summer this price was dropped £20. No change was made to Morris's catalogue of the 15.9 for the October 1927 Motor Show[24] Morris's 17.7 hp Light Six was first shown at this 1927 Show.[25]

This Oxford 15.9 was replaced by another four cylinder Oxford, Oxford 16/40.[23]

15.9 and 16/40
cars produced


The website of the International Alliance of Morris owners explains that this car was designed by Morris-Commercial, the part of Morris's empire that made commercial vehicles and their engines and Morris gearboxes and back axles. This 15.9 hp Morris-Commercial engine was intended for a truck.

Morris Commercial 1 ton van of 1928

Oxford 16/40[edit]

Oxford 16/40
Also called Oxford 15.9 all details above
Predecessor Oxford four 15.9
Successor Oxford Six
Oxford 16/40
Also called Oxford 15.9 all details above

A new version was announced in September 1928 given a new name before the announcement of the 15.9 horsepower Oxford Six. There were minor improvements of appearance but this was no more than a 15.9 with a new name.[23]

This 16/40 was replaced by Oxford Six 15.9 hp. [23]

Oxford Six 1929-1934[edit]

Oxford Six
Morris Oxford Six saloon 1930.jpg
Oxford Six six-light saloon 1930
Production 1929–32 [19]
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
4-door fabric saloon
Related Morris Fifteen Six
Engine 1938 cc side-valve Straight-6
2062 cc

A 1938 cc six-cylinder version, the LA series Oxford Six, was made between 1929 and 1933. It was much more successful than the 1920 version. Alongside the tourer and the new all-steel saloon, a fabric-bodied car was offered until 1932, when it and the tourer were dropped and a coupé introduced.[19]

The all-steel body was made over the road at Cowley by W R Morris's joint venture with American Edward G Budd, Pressed Steel Company. It had striking similarities to a recent Dodge body. By 1930 supply problems were such that it was replaced by a similar but coachbuilt (wood framed) body.

Road Test[edit]

The Times tested the fabric bodied version of the new car. The driver has been given an electrical petrol gauge. Standard fitments include: bumpers, a stoplight and dipping headlights pneumatically controlled from the steering wheel. The four-wheel brakes are Lockheed hydraulic. The rear brakes by hand were found to be "useful" and the pedal brakes "admirable". Tools are supplied in a locker under the near side running board. The battery can be got at through a trap under the driver's seat. At the rear there is a fair-sized lockable luggage compartment. "The minimum brake horsepower is stated to be 45 at 3,200 rpm." Frame members are straight and at bumper height so that any shock is better withstood.[26]

The Times went on to describe the new car as well-proportioned with seating front and back "thoroughly comfortable". The highest rate of speed was about 60 miles an hour in top gear. Clutch action was satisfactory.[26]

Chassis alone £215, this fabric saloon £285,[26] tourer £275, coupé £295, coach built saloon £299.[27]

In August 1930 a shorter chassis more expensive version was announced and named Morris Major Six, "A new light six-cylinder 15 hp model with a sparkling road performance". The Isis Six matched the Oxford SIx but was given "luxurious bodywork" and a larger 2½-litre engine.[28]


Oxford Six 6-light saloon Q-series registered December 1932 direction indicator on bracket above spare

In September 1932, the gearbox gained a fourth speed and the engine grew to 2062 cc with the Q-series unit. All Morris cars were given anti-splash side-shields to their front wings.[29]

Direction indicators, a set of three coloured lights on each side of the car visible from front and rear were fitted. Controlled from a switch on the dashboard they permitted accurate indications of planned movements while the car's windows remain shut.[29]

In its road test The Times commented favourably on the direction indicators though it noted the lack of ashtrays. Further comments of interest: starter access, should the starter lock, was considered difficult. The car moved with a mechanical smoothness and quietness "not always found with a car of this price". The saloon cornered unusually well. The pedal brakes were excellent but for a slight pull to the offside. [30]


Oxford Six six-light saloon
registered April 1934

All Morris cars for 1934, this was announced in August 1933, were to have 4-speed synchromesh gearboxes, dipping headlights, hydraulic shock absorbers, hydraulic brakes, rear petrol tank, direction indicators, safety glass and automatic ignition.[31]

The Oxford, Isis and Twenty-five were singled out and given "automatic clutch control" described by The Times as automatism. The Oxford also received a governable free-wheel, bigger seats, a spare wheel cover and concealed ashtrays for back seat passengers.[31]

The chassis frame was quite new and now also contained a cruciform shape. It was longer as well as stronger with flexible mounting for the (continued) 2062 cc engine. New shaped coachwork incorporated improved running boards, a new pattern of brake lever, draught excluders over the slots for the pedals and gear lever and interior sun visors, twin rear and reversing lights, fog light, occasional table folded behind the front seats, new pattern armrests are place front and rear and a folding footrest provided for rear seat passengers.[31]

Reporting again in March 1934 The Times drew attention to the gearbox's free-wheel, quiet-third and synchromesh on the three top speeds. "Automatic clutch control" eliminated use of the clutch even for starting or stopping. Automatic engine restarting was fitted. The steering wheel was too large though distracting rather than obstructive. The handbrake lever was awkwardly shaped and positioned. The car remained smooth and quiet.[32]

Tax relief[edit]

This Oxford Six was renamed Oxford Sixteen in September 1934 and placed within the new 16 to 25 horsepower range of Morris Big Sixes expanded in view of the 25 per cent reduction in Horse Power tax expected in 1935.[33]

Oxford Sixteen and Oxford Twenty 1934–35[edit]

Sixteen and Twenty
1935 Morris Oxford Sixteen 4343081473.jpg
Oxford Sixteen six-light saloon 1935
registered January 1935
with freewheel and Bendix automatic clutch
Production 1934–35
6308 made[19]
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon, coupé
Related Isis, Cowley
Engine 2062 cc side-valve Straight-6
2561 cc side-valve Straight-6
Wheelbase 114 in (2,900 mm) [7]

The Six name was changed to Sixteen, from the car's 16 hp tax horsepower category, in September 1934 when its 2062 cc engine was joined by the 2561 cc Twenty sold for the same price, the size of engine being the only difference. There was an intermediate eighteen horsepower Isis. Outwards appearance was further improved, the free-wheel and automatic clutch by Bendix remained in the specification. The hydraulic shock absorbers were now made by Luvax and double-acting. Wheels continued to be by Magna.[33]

The engine's cooling system now had thermostatic control, mixture control was now thermostatic, direction indicators self-cancelling, the electric windscreen wiper was fitted with a blade for each side of the screen, Triplex safety glass fitted throughout.[33]

Two styles of coachwork were available, the saloon and a Special coupé both fitted with a Pytchley sliding head (sunroof) and the sliding head is wired for radio. The interior woodwork is burr walnut, matt-finished in the saloon.[33]

Oxford Twenty six-light saloon 1935

Barely nine months later these cars were superseded by members of the Morris Big Six series II range: Sixteen or Eighteen and Twenty-one or Twenty Five announced 2 July 1935.

The Oxford name disappeared from new Morris cars until 1948.

Oxford Taxi[edit]

Main article: Nuffield Oxford Taxi
Nuffield Oxford Series I

Nuffield's Oxford Taxi was produced from 1947 to 1953

Oxford MO 1948–54[edit]

Oxford MO
Morris Oxford MO 1952.jpg
Oxford four-door saloon 1952
Also called Hindustan Fourteen (India)
Production 1948–54
159,960 produced.[34]
Assembly United Kingdom
Australia [35]
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
2-door estate
Related Wolseley 4/50 / 6/80
Engine 1476 cc side-valve Straight-4
Wheelbase 97 in (2,500 mm) [7]
Length 165.5 in (4,200 mm) [7]
Width 65 in (1,700 mm) [7]
Height 64 in (1,600 mm) [36]
Predecessor Morris Ten series M
Morris Twelve
Morris Fourteen
Successor Oxford II

After the Second World War the 13.5 fiscal horsepower Oxford MO had to replace the Ten horsepower series M, Morris's Twelve and Morris's Fourteen. It was announced along with the new 918cc Minor and the 2.2-litre Six on 26 October 1948 and was produced until 1954. The design was shared with Nuffield Organisation stable-mate Wolseley 4/50 which used a traditional grille and better finishes.

Designed by Alec Issigonis, the Oxford, along with the Morris Minor, introduced unit construction techniques,[clarification needed] although it is not widely recognized as a true unibody car.[clarification needed] Torsion bar front suspension was another novelty, and hydraulically operated 8-inch (200 mm) drum brakes were fitted all around. Under the bonnet, the MO was a step back in technology from the pre-war Ten. It used a side-valve straight-4 rather than the older overhead-valve unit. The single SU-carburetted engine displaced 1.5 L (1476 cc/90 in3) and with its output of 40.5 bhp (30.2 kW) at 4200 rpm could propel the car to 72 mph (116 km/h). The four-speed gearbox had a column gearchange and steering was by rack and pinion.

Interior fittings were reasonably comprehensive by the standards of the time, with a full width shelf under the dashboard and "useful pivoting ventilator panels" (hinged quarterlights) at the front edge of each of the front doors and a rear window blind included in the price.[37] Instrumentation included an oil pressure gauge, an ammeter and an electric clock.[37] Also available, albeit at extra cost, was a heater.[37]

The MO was sold as a 4-door saloon and 2-door Traveller estate with an exposed wooden frame at the rear. Both were four-seaters.

Just 3½ inches longer than the saloon which its dimensions otherwise matched the Traveller was given bench seats front and back, the front backrest split for access to the back. Six could be seated in reasonable comfort, though the back squab was narrowed by the rear wheel arches, and furthermore there was a large platform behind for luggage or freight. Folding forward the rear seat made an area nearly five feet square and three feet high. The front part of the car remained the same as the saloon and no comfort was sacrificed by front seat passengers. Normal winding windows were retained in front but the side windows at the rear (which provided excellent vision for the driver) could slide horizontally, the first for more than two feet and the second only a short distance to give ventilation. The vague steering column gear change lever still showed no improvement over previous Oxfords[38]

The Motor magazine tested a Traveller in 1952 but only attained a top speed of 64 mph (103 km/h) and acceleration from 0–50 mph (80 km/h) in 26.2 seconds. A fuel consumption of 26.4 miles per imperial gallon (10.7 L/100 km; 22.0 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £825 including taxes.[36] The final drive ratio had been lowered from 4.55 to 1 to 4.875 to 1 in 1949 "in the interests of top gear acceleration, which still keeping top gear reasonably high, as is ...Morris policy", according to a statement attributed to the manufacture.[37]

A six-cylinder version was sold as the Morris Six MS.

It was replaced by the Oxford series II announced Tuesday 18 May 1954.[39]

Hindustan Motors of India produced the Oxford MO as the Hindustan Fourteen.

Oxford series II 1954–56[edit]

Oxford II
Morris Oxford Series II front.jpg
Oxford saloon series II 1954
Production 1954–56
87,341 produced [40]
Assembly United Kingdom
Australia [41]
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
2-door estate
Related Morris Cowley
Engine 1489 cc B-Series Straight-4
Wheelbase 97 in (2,500 mm) [7]
Length 171 in (4,300 mm) [7]
Width 65 in (1,700 mm) [7]
Height 63 in (1,600 mm) [42]

The fully redesigned Oxford announced in May 1954[39] was given a new shape directly foreshadowing the BMC ADO17 and, following the formation of BMC, notably getting the Austin-designed B-Series OHV straight-4. This modern 1.5 L (1489 cc/90 in3) engine produced a respectable 50 hp (37 kW)[42] and allowed the Oxford to reach 74 mph (119 km/h). Hydraulic drum brakes all round were still used but increased to 9-inch (230 mm) diameter. Steering was still of the beautifully light and precise[38] rack and pinion type.[43]

Styling was entirely new though the rounded body maintained a family resemblance to the Morris Minor. Again, a pair of four-seat configurations, 4-door saloon and 2-door Traveller, were offered. The column gear change and front bench seat allowed the saloon to be advertised as a full six-seater. The handbrake lever was located between the side of the seat and the driver's side door. Unusually for a British car of its class at the time, the heater was a standard fitting but the radio remained an extra.[42] Sales remained strong when the Series III arrived in 1956.

The British Motor magazine tested a Series II saloon in 1954 recording a top speed of 74.2 mph (119.4 km/h) and acceleration from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 28.9 seconds and a fuel consumption of 28.2 miles per imperial gallon (10.0 L/100 km; 23.5 mpg-US). The test car cost £744 including taxes.[42]

A 2.6-litre six-cylinder 7-inches longer Morris Isis version was announced 12 July 1955 with a saloon or Traveller estate body: the rear half of the Traveller body used the same timber-frame ("half-timbered") construction as that used for the better remembered Morris Minor Traveller.

Hindustan Motors of India produced the four-cylinder version of this car (except the air-vent situated upon the bonnet) naming it Hindustan Landmaster.

Oxford series III 1956–59[edit]

Oxford III
Morris Oxford Series III side.jpg
Oxford series III
Production 1956–59
58,117 produced inc. Series IV;[40] still made in India as Hindustan Ambassador
Assembly United Kingdom
Australia [44]
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
2-door estate
Related Hindustan Ambassador
Engine 1489 cc BMC B-Series engine Straight-4
Transmission 4-speed manual[45]
Wheelbase 97 in (2,500 mm) [7]
Length 178 in (4,500 mm)[45]
Width 65 in (1,700 mm) [7]
Height 64 in (1,600 mm)[45]

The Oxford was updated for 1957 with a new fluted bonnet and small rear fins and an optional two-tone paint scheme all announced on 18 October 1956.[46] Inside the bench seats trimmed in leather remained but the instrument cluster was revised and a new dished steering wheel fitted. The engine now produced 55 hp (41 kW) following an increase in compression ratio though the top speed and acceleration remained the same. A semi-automatic, two pedal, "Manumatic" transmission with centrifugal clutch with vacuum operation coupled to gear changes was optional.

Independent front-suspension with forward torsion bars continued to promise "above average comfort" for the car's occupants.[45]

The woody Series III Traveller was replaced by the Series IV in 1957, though the saloon remained in production until the Pininfarina-styled Series V was introduced in 1959. 58,117 Series III and Series IV Oxfords were built.

Motor magazine tested a Series III manumatic equipped saloon in 1957 recording a top speed of 74.4 mph (119.7 km/h), virtually unchanged from the Series II and acceleration from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 30.5 seconds, adversely affected by the Manumatic option. Fuel consumption of 27.0 miles per imperial gallon (10.5 L/100 km; 22.5 mpg-US) was found. The test car cost £898 including taxes of £300.[47]

This car was the basis for the Hindustan Ambassador, since 1957 which was built in India for some 50 years after the Oxford III's demise, though with a few notable styling updates but keeping the original look, albeit with modern powertrains. Hindustan Motors have stopped production of the Ambassador cars as at May 2014.[48] With the 'Amby' sales declining rapidly from a high of 24,000 units a year in the mid-1980s to under 12,000 a decade later and less than 6,000 in the mid-2000s, the HM management struggled to position the car

Oxford Traveller all-steel series IV 1957–60[edit]

Oxford Traveller
all-steel series IV
Oxford Series IV front.jpg
Oxford Traveller all-steel estate
Production 1957–60
58,117 produced inc Series III
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door estate
Engine 1489 cc BMC B-Series engine Straight-4
Wheelbase 97 in (2,500 mm) [7]
Length 171 in (4,300 mm) [7]
Width 65 in (1,700 mm) [7]

The Oxford IV was only made in the Traveller estate version. A steel-bodied replacement for the "woody" Series III Traveller, it was similar to the Series III saloon in most respects. The IV was introduced in 1957, announced by BMC with the Riley Two-Point-Six on 23 August 1957[49] and produced alongside the Series V until 1960. An interesting feature was having fillers on both sides of the car, for the single fuel tank.

A Traveller estate car version of the series V Farina body was announced 28 September 1960. The new body now provided a double bed size sleeping compartment about 6 ft long and 4 ft wide. The back of the car had a tail-board hinged at the bottom and an upper panel hinged at the top. The Morris version had a single bench front seat and cost £10 more than the equivalent Austin Countryman.[50]

Oxford series V 1959–61[edit]

Oxford series V
Morris Oxford Series V front.jpg
Oxford series V
Production 1959–61
87,432 produced[40]
Assembly United Kingdom
Australia [51]
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
4-door estate
Related Austin A55 Cambridge
Riley 4/68
MG Magnette III
Wolseley 15/60
Engine 1489 cc BMC B-Series engine Straight-4
Wheelbase 99 in (2,500 mm) [7]
Length 175.5 in (4,460 mm) [7]
Width 63.5 in (1,610 mm) [7]

For 1959, the Oxford, announced on Lady Day 25 March 1959,[52] was merged into the mid-sized Pininfarina-designed BMC Farina range along with a half-dozen other previously announced models, including the 1958 Wolseley 15/60 and 1959 Riley 4/68, Austin A55 Cambridge Mark II, and MG Magnette Mark III. The Austin and Morris cars were nearly identical but were produced in separate factories. Differences in the Morris included some of the chrome and interior trim, and the rear lights. Inside, a front bench seat and special dashboard fitted with speedometer, oil pressure gauge, coolant temperature gauge, fuel gauge and clock (optional) were used. A choice of floor or column gear change was available. The handbrake was floor-mounted to the side of the seat. The 1.5 L B-Series engine continued. Drum brakes of 9 in (230 mm) diameter were fitted front and rear and the steering used a cam and peg system. The suspension was independent at the front using coil springs and had a live axle and semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear.

The Series IV Traveller was still sold for the first year after which a Series V Traveller was made.

When tested by The Motor magazine the car had a top speed of 78 mph (126 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 25.4 seconds. A "touring" fuel consumption of 29.8 miles per imperial gallon (9.5 L/100 km; 24.8 mpg-US) was recorded.[53]

Both standard and de-luxe versions were offered. The de-luxe package included a heater, manual screen washer, twin sun visors, twin horns, bumper over-riders, a clock and leather-covered seat. A two-tone paint scheme and a radio were available as options.[53]

On the home market the Standard version cost £815 and the de-luxe £844 including taxes.[53]

In all, 87,432 Series V Oxfords were built.

Oxford series VI 1961–71[edit]

Oxford series VI
Morris Oxford 1964 1.JPG
Oxford series VI 1965
Production 1961–71
208,823 produced[40]
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
4-door estate
Related Austin A60 Cambridge
Riley 4/72
Engine 1622 cc BMC B-Series engine Straight-4
Wheelbase 100 in (2,500 mm) [7]
Length 174 in (4,400 mm) [7]
Width 63.5 in (1,610 mm) [7]
Successor Morris 1800 (ADO17 "Landcrab")
Morris Marina

All five Farina cars were updated in October 1961[54] with a new 1.6 L (1622 cc/98 in3) version of the B-Series engine, longer wheelbase and a new revised look. The tail fins had been trimmed and there were still detail changes between the marques. The Morris retained the series V dash, while the Austin had an all-new fake woodgrain design.

The Morris Oxford Traveller (estate) series V was replaced by a series VI, although little changed apart from the front grille.

A diesel-engined Oxford series VI, introduced shortly after the 1961 update, was popular as a taxi. Variants of the same diesel engine enjoyed a long life in marine applications.

The Oxford VI remained in production until 1971 with 208,823 produced. The Oxford range was to have been replaced by the 1967 Morris 1800 (a badge-engineered 1964 ADO17 Austin 1800), but in the event both were built in parallel until 1971 because in terms both of pricing and of interior space the 1800 fell into the market segment of a slightly larger car. The ADO17 1800 continued until 1975, when it was succeeded by the ADO71 Morris 1800. The car which took the Oxford's place at the smaller end of the market segment was the Morris Marina, which also succeeded the yet smaller Minor.



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  • Davis, Pedr (1986). The Macquarie Dictionary of Motoring.