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1923 Morris Oxford 2-Seater
Registration No. XO 3871
Chassis No. 27373
Engine No. 34778
Hammer price:£ 10000
'We are indebted to the late Eric Longworth's son-in-law, Michael Sumpster who knows this car well, for his affectionate notes concerning the Oxford'
The Bullnose Morris was the best-selling British car of the post-WW1 period. Introduced originally before the War, the Cowley was the basic model. The Oxford was similar, but better equipped. Later Oxford cars had larger engines, but the example offered here has the same 11.9 hp engine as the Cowley.
The car offered here is arguably the most original and best preserved early Morris Oxford, and has unique provenance. Its first owner was a lady farmer in Cove, near Farnborough, Hampshire, and she later removed the dickey seat in order to carry straw bales. The car was, inevitably, eventually consigned to storage in a barn, where it was discovered by the late Eric Longworth, and purchased by him in 1959, as his first vintage restoration. Although a pharmacist by profession, Eric was an engineer by inclination, and carried out a meticulous and sensitive restoration, teaching himself the skills necessary, such as lathe work and welding.
Over the next 50 years the car was lovingly maintained and improved, without ever departing from its total originality. Some errors in the original restoration were later corrected: fading had caused both the hood and the body to change colour, leading Eric to have the new hood made in khaki duck, and the body painted in a sort of Air Force blue. The body was later repainted in the correct shade of Oxford blue, and a new black hood, sidescreens and hood bag made, which have had very little use since. The dickey seat is fitted with a rare and original folding Auster screen. A new battery and re-wound magneto were fitted recently.
The car is also unique in having been nominated for an Oscar! It starred in the BP promotional film "The Home-Made Car" which was directed by James Hill, who went on to direct Born Free. It tells the story of a young man who discovers a derelict Bullnose in a scrapyard, and records his adventures in getting it back on the road. The film was nominated in 1963 for an Oscar in the Short Films category, and went on to win two other European awards. The car comes with an extensive collection of documentation, including two photograph albums recording its discovery, restoration and later use, and a unique set of material relating to the film, including the display board which was with the car when it was exhibited in Shell-Mex House in London for the premiere of the film. With the car are also16mm film, VHS video and DVD copies of the film.
The original 1923 buff logbook is also included, together with several technical manuals and copies of virtually every book published on the Bullnose Morris. A number of spares and an Accumate charger are included. The Morris, known in the family as "Bertha", is available after 52 years with only its second owner, since Eric Longworth died, at the age of 91, in 2011. It is to be hoped that its new owner will care for it as well, and derive as much pleasure from it, as Eric and his family did.