Classic Cars / Lea Francis

Lea Francis Cars History


This is the history of the brand Lea Francis since the establishment of the company and up to the most modern of vehicles produced under this brand.

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Lea Francis

In the 1895m , Richard Henry Lee left his job in a bicycle firm Singer & Co, where he worked for worked for 7 years. Lee decides to take up the production of bicycles in conjunction with Graeme Inglesbi Francis , who also previously worked as a bicycle area , the company Auto Machinery Co, has released the details for them.

In May 1896 they founded the firm Lea & Francis Ltd. Lord build roads that are built to order bikes , which are sold under the brand name "Lea", c 1899 , it was decided to sell their products as "Lea-Francis".

At 1903m , the companions decided to enter into the developing automobile market , for this they founded a new company, Lea and Francis Motor Syndicate Ltd. To work on a new project hired Craig Alexander , whose first job was to build 3- cylinder car for the firm Maudslay, it is not surprising that the first-born " Lee Francis ," which was presented in the 1904m , at Crystal Palace Show, so was technically similar to ' Maudsley . " The machine had an interesting feature - 3.7L 15ti strong motor located under the floor of the body as close as possible to the rear wheels , so it is not required for long-chain drive wheels. Camshaft engine had top position and a mechanical valve train , which was very innovatively for the beginning of the century .

There were built three such machines under its own brand name , then these cars were built under the name "Singer" for a former employer Lee, who bought the license for it.
At 1906m , the contract ended and the company ceased production of cars , focusing on the bikes , but in 1911 began producing motorcycles with engines from the company JAP. Motorcycles firms as well and the bikes were a luxury that only expensive units used , by the way on the motorcycle company came under pressure from the sons of the founders - Norman Lee and Don Francis .

After the First World War, in the 1919m , the firm continued to produce motorcycles that ceased to produce in the 1916m year by switching to military production. At the same time, the board of directors decided to start producing cars again . This time the car has developed Arthur Alderson , a former engineer for "Singer" ( that's such a close connection with Lee Francis with Singer ) . 2x liter engine has a tax capacity of 11.9l / s, and was equipped with 4- speed transmission , but because No advertising company was not able to realize that only 6 of these cars , plus one with a body pickup worked as a warehouse in the firm , " Lee Francis ' almost mid- 30s , and as the machines were offered to its customers in the 2 local version , though the body were designed by Richard Lee, but supplied by Avon.

After the implementation of 6ti cars in the 1919m , the company not series- built vehicles up to 1922 , but it was designed three prototypes : the first was designed by Richard Lee and had a 2x -cylinder air-cooled engine , the body was borrowed from the car brand Vulcan, this prototype and a half years by another son Richard Lee - Alan , the second car was built Alderson , the engine was also 2x cylinder , but this time the liquid cooling firm Bradshaw, the volume of 700 cubic meters , he was the smallest car in the world with a 4- speed transmission , and the third prototype was also built Alderson , but already had a 1.1L 4- cylinder Coventry-Simplex engine and 3- speed transmission , the last prototype was presented at the auto show in 1922m year as a C Type, during a show booked even 4 cars, but none have been delivered to customers .

In December 1922, work on hiring an engineer Charles Van Euegena , a Dutchman by birth, who has worked at firms Simplex, Daimler and Swift. In the job he is given to improve With Type . He reworks the front axle and suspension, ready prototypes also remade and eventually sold 90 cars . As Attachments to this machine offers a starter, which cost £ 15 , which was 1/15 of the total price of the base car .

In the 1923m London distributor of - mr . Wardman , which in addition to products Lea-Francis represents the interests of the Company and Vulcan Motors Ltd., Brings his two partners together. And while they are negotiating , Van Eugen C model upgrades and create on its base D Tour 9.8HP. The new model was 1.25l 19ti strong motor company Meadows, 3- speed transmission was also on the Meadows, the machine chassis also underwent revision . Body is not limited to 2x local options , as well increased the number of their suppliers, body build : Robinson, Avon and Motor Bodies. These machines are equipped with a base starter, alternator, electric light, in contrast to their predecessors.

At 1924m , the directories are added to the model E Type, which is equipped with the same engine 1.25l , but has an extended wheel base , some to strengthen the chassis , radiator machines increases to 5 cm in width. Closed bodies come new partner - by Vulcan, for which they receive in return a new 4- speed transmission and steering system developed by Van Eugen . 4- speed transmission are now put to order and D Type. Together with the E model appears F, which is different from the previous 3- speed transmission and a 2 or 4 open bodies of local firms Avon and Robinson, ie in fact it is cost-reduced version of the model E.

At 1924m , the Royal Automobile Club holds 6ti day tests of small cars in Wales , including test and D Type. During the tests, measurements are made in fuel consumption , oil , records all forced to stop , the reliability of the brakes in this hilly terrain. Machine from the " Lee Francis " shows his best side , for which one of the panelists wrote his finger on the body: Witch Mountain with Bwlch-y-Groes, who knows the Welsh can write us a transcription of the name :)

In the same year, Lea-Francis releasing only 1,500 motorcycles for the past 13 years, decides to stop production and make all efforts to the car business. In December 1924, appears the most expensive model - N Type, which was built on the E Type. Motor from Meadows had now amount to 38 1.5L developing strength, with this engine , this car could have dispersed to 100 km / h compared to 80 km / h , which were available 1.25l model. As an option, this machine can be ordered and front brakes, but if other machines released in amounts from 100 to 400 copies , the model H found only 25 customers.

In the 1925m , at the shortened chassis of the F begin to collect G Type, car had to be the most affordable in the production program of the company . This series had only 2 local firms Body Robinson and Cross & Ellis. By analogy with Ford this car was painted in only one color, but not black like the Fords , and blue interior was decorated with blue skin .

At 1925m , the Eugen prepare a whole bunch of models that are essentially different from each other size chassis and engines , resulting in Lego sculpt the fact that there is something that we want to get , so there were models I, J, K, L, M and other Taipa :) By the way L Type became the first sports car of this brand, 1.5L engine power was increased to 52l / s, and the car is equipped with brakes on all wheels with power Devandre systems , shock absorbers on all wheels and sports body could develop is acceptable for the time 115km / h
In the 1926m , in cooperation with the firm Vulcan built and sold such cars as the Lea-Francis Kirkstone. This machine , which is being built in "Volcano" is equipped with a 1.5L engine company Anzani, which were completed among other brands such as : AC, Frazer-Nash and Morgan . It was a tough machine that is not equipped with a badly because she had serially : baggage top box , electric lights, electric signals , and the second stekloochestiteli windshield for the rear passengers.

In August 1926 the firm builds on the chassis L Type sportier version of the Lea-Francis Special, though the car later entrenched different name - " Lobster " . 52 1.5L engine was strong, but the body of the Cross & Ellis was a single , the radiator was tilted at 15 degrees , the gearbox was located in the center of the body, which was not typical for cars of this brand. However, a month later exhibited at Brooklands car with a technical stuffing, instead Meadows Motor Company was established 1.5L engine equipped with a mechanical compressor Anzani firm Berk, but unfortunately after going half way car surrendered due to a compressor failure . At the end of the year on the chassis of the machine installed Meadows 1.5L engine equipped with a compressor company Cozette.

Another product of badge - engineering has become a model 1LFS 14/40NR which produced partner company Vulcan Engineering. This machine is equipped with a 1.7l 6ti cylinder engine capacity of 45l / s , the main feature was the presence of two camshafts , ie System DOHC. However, motor vehicles , which could develop 100 km / h was a significant problem , the oil pump does not do its job , so that the failed engine was not uncommon in the 1927m , the firm Vulcan Engineering finalized the motor and simultaneously increased its volume up to 2 liters that allowed him to remove from 60 forces , this machine called 2LFS 16/50 HP.

In the 1927m Van Eugen new chassis designs , they have become increasingly (and can track wheels widened ) and the length at which it sets 1.5L engines Meadows. Model called the P Type is equipped with a carburetor 38 and develops strength, and a more powerful 52 powerful version dubbed O Type is equipped with two "Zenith" , this car was much more expensive monokarbyuratornoy , which affected its popularity since it was first released nearly 1,100 copies, while only 55 Oshek .

Then , after experimenting with "lobster " appears in the civil serial compressor model , which was destined to become the first British production car equipped with a compressor. S Type or as it is called by the people Hyper, was built on the chassis of the new models of the P / O , which set the 1.5L engine with a compressor Cozette, motor gave him 61l / s in the civilian version , and almost 80 in the sport . The difference Mezhuyev S & P was the same in the presence of a vacuum brake booster , which did not have air vehicles. Just this car looks different from the atmospheric sloping grille , the idea of which was borrowed from the " Lobster " . In the embodiment of the sports body this machine could develop up to 180 km / h , while the sedan can travel at speeds to 135 km / h , which was also not enough for the time. Of course this machine is used by amateurs to drive on the road, so to 1928m , the car came first in the Ards Touring Trophy in Ireland, just as victory was won in Ulster , and get hold of other prizes in other activities.

In the late 20s model of the P / O has been upgraded , these machines have a tilted radiator , like a compressor models , they became known as the V and W Type.

At 1929m , the company is involved in 24 hour races of Le Mans , Kenneth Peacock and Sammy Newsome 8- come in the overall standings after 4 Bentley, which are the " Bentley Boys " , a Stutz Birket with 5.3l engine and 2 Chrysler models 75 and 77, the same with engines over 4 liters , thus came first in their class , and the crew , who finished second in their class behind at 800km from them.

At 1930m , the " Lee Francis " prepare its own version 6ti cylinder model . Engine of its own design of 2.2l develops 60 forces. For the construction of the first models used lengthened chassis of the model P, but later began to offer , and based on a shortened this model , which has received the name of Ace of Spades, which translates as " Ace of Spades " .

In the same year, the crew of a sports team to repeat his success at Le Mans, having come this time 6mi in the overall standings , behind only the more powerful rivals such as Bentley, Talbot and Alfa Romeo , and surpassing in its class such as the famous brand Bugatti in this way race " died " once two compressor Bentley : Birkin and Bendzhafilt trying to squeeze everything out of their cars to fight Karachiolloy who was driving the compressor Mercy , by the way , Rodolfo also descended from a line due to a fault , though not the compressor.

But 1930y year was critical to the firm, the current crisis and the huge cost of developing a new model put the company on the brink of bankruptcy in November of that year he was appointed to manage the company , Charles Turner, who was trying to keep the company afloat , but the 4- cylinder model series S, V and W were removed from production in 1932, and the only machine in the production program remained " Ace of Spades ", which lasted until 1935 . At 1935m , the company was forced to close its production.

In July 1937, George Leake company buys and reorganizes it into Lea-Francis Engineering Limited, he also buys former manufacturing facilities of the company Triumph in Coventry and moves production facilities there. As a partner is Hugh Rose , who previously worked for the firm of Victor Riley Riley, and that he developed a two-shaft engines for this company .

In the 1938m , Rose hands over the project to a series DOHC'nye cars have engines of 1.5L and 1.6L , first developed 48 forces , the second 53, these engines were very similar to those that he designed for " Riley " , but had a more acute cams and short rods . The new machines were called Twelve and Fourteen , on the tax power .

Body supplied by Carlton Carriage Co - drophedy and Avon Motor Bodies Ltd - sedans (saloon), and sedans can be ordered in two versions , called Four-light Saloon or Six-light Saloon, these differed only in the body of the side windows , interestingly the price was on them is the same .
Manufacture of machinery continued until 1940 , though at that time were able to produce only 68 cars. At 1940m the year like most British firms Lea-Francis moved on to a military program .

To resume car production firm could , in March 1946 , it was the pre-war models, but if 12ya model remained unchanged, at 14th lavishing up to 1.8l engine , which allowed him to shoot 65 forces with him car developed 120 km / h Just 14ya model was in its range of new body type wagon, which was called Utility.

Open body fell out of the proposed scales, and body type sedan , which are now produced only in the 4- windowed version , available from AP Aircraft Ltd, a body built for estate Yapton Caravan Company. Machines with such bodies in high demand not only because of their versatility, but also tax breaks , as belonged to freight transport .
At 1947m , the base 1.5L model was removed from production , although sports teams can buy this engine , built for their sports cars. Jack Turner built sports car brand Turner, who played in Formula 2 , engine power was adjusted to 89 forces in one of the cars drove and Ken Rose , the son of Hugh Rose, then Hugh install injection taken from an aircraft engine , a little over pokolduyu motor ( increasing eg valve ) and remove from all 145 1.5L forces. The second company that used the 1.5L engines " Lee Francis " was the company Midget. Specialists of the company have established for 1.5L engine carburetor Amals four and 118 received forces.

But in the fall debut outdoor sports version 12NR Sport, which was built at the factory Lea-Francis, the machine was equipped with a 64x powerful 1.5L engine , the chassis was shortened compared to the base models to 30cm , the body had faired fenders with integrated headlights. However, by the end of the year, this body is only offered with 1.8L engine capacity of 77 forces that developed the car with him 140km / h

At 1948m , the company Connaught Engineering, based in Surrey, began to build the sports car on the chassis of 14HP. True 1.8L engine capacity has been improved and it is initially issued 102 forces closer to 50m , with the shot he has 122 mares, these machines are involved in Formula 2 , but without much success.

And in October 1948, in the catalogs " Lee Francis " you can now see the new machines 14/70 Six-Light Saloon and 14NR Westland. The first car had independent front suspension, hydraulic-mechanical actuator brakes and a modern streamlined body with 6tyu side windows . This is a solid sedan with a capacity of 70sil developed 125km / h, and was the most expensive production car in the production program .

The second car had a car and a coupe body style was diametrically opposite to the body, which was built by the way the aviation firm
Westland Aero Company ( the company was doing a body and firm Healey). It was a luxury model , right on the old platform , was built only 29 such cars.

In October 1949, ceased production of the 14NR Sport, it is replaced by a machine with the same body, but under the hood which has been 2.5L engine with 100 power , this machine is called 2 ½ Litre Sports. The front suspension was independent machines , as well as hydro-mechanical brakes appeared to have been borrowed from the model 14/70 . Exterior and interior was richly previous model , but it is seen by the eye can only ardent fan :) Unfortunately machine, which was done by hand is getting too expensive and was not able to compete with more affordable and widespread Jaguar XK120, which are also had more high-speed , " Lee Francis " could develop a total of 160 km / h , while the "Jaguar" all of 190km / h

Among other things, independent front suspension and hydro-mechanical brakes have other models of the company , which were issued : 14hp Four-Light Saloon and 14hp Westland, but the suspension wagon remained intact until 1950.

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