World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Calthorpe cars

The Calthorpe Motor Company based in Bordesley Green, Birmingham, England made a range of cars, motorcycles and bicycles from 1904 to 1932.


  • Formation 1
  • Car production 2
  • Car models 3
  • Calthorpe motorcycles 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6


The company started out in the 1890s as a Birmingham bicycle maker called Hands and Cake run by George W. Hands. This was renamed the Bard Cycle Manufacturing Company in 1897 changing to the Minstrel Cycle Company in 1901.[1]

Car production

In 1904, the first motor car, a 10 hp four-cylinder model, was announced. They briefly made some larger types, but it was in the light car field that they specialised, using proprietary White and Poppe engines. The cars were successfully raced in France in the Coupe de l'Auto series. A small car was announced in 1913 for the 1914 season with the 10 hp Minor, which proved to be a real large car in miniature, with a 3-speed gearbox and shaft drive.

After the war the large cars were dropped, but the Minor re-appeared with a slightly larger engine of 1261 cc. In 1920 a Mr J Mathews was in charge of production, and a target of making 50 cars a week was set. The cars continued to have excellent coachwork made by the Calthorpe subsidiary company of Dorman engines.

The days of the high-quality light car were coming to an end by the late 1920s, and sales of the fairly expensive Calthorpe were declining. A receiver had to be appointed in 1924, and the Bordesley Green factory closed, but very limited production kept going for a while. A final fling with the 1925 15/45 six-cylinder 2-litre car was really too late, and sales of the remaining stocks of cars had virtually ceased by 1928.

About 5,000 cars were made in the post-war period; pre-war production is uncertain. Fewer than ten cars are thought to have survived.[1]

Car models

Type Engine Year Notes
Calthorpe 10 hp 1530 cc side-valve two-cylinder water-cooled 1904 87-inch (2,200 mm) wheelbase. Shaft drive.
Calthorpe 16 hp 2383 cc side-valve four-cylinder water-cooled 1905 102-inch (2,600 mm) wheelbase
Calthorpe 12/14 1810 cc side-valve four-cylinder water-cooled 1906-08 102-inch (2,600 mm) wheelbase. Updated 10 hp model
Calthorpe 28/40 4562 cc side-valve four-cylinder water-cooled 1907 117-inch (3,000 mm) wheelbase
Calthorpe 25 4250 cc side-valve four-cylinder water-cooled 1908-10 86-inch (2,200 mm) wheelbase
Calthorpe 12/14 2297 cc side-valve four-cylinder water-cooled 1909-11 98-inch (2,500 mm) or 102-inch (2,600 mm) wheelbase
Calthorpe 16/20 3261 cc side-valve four-cylinder water coole 1909-16 102-inch (2,600 mm) wheelbase
Calthorpe 15 3012 cc side-valve four-cylinder water-cooled 1911-13 114-inch (2,900 mm) wheelbase
Calthorpe 20 3817 cc side-valve four-cylinder water-cooled 1911-13 114-inch (2,900 mm) wheelbase
Calthorpe 12/15 1868 or 1924 cc side-valve four-cylinder water-cooled 1912-15 102-inch (2,600 mm) wheelbase
Calthorpe 15 3016 cc side-valve four-cylinder water-cooled 1912-15 114-inch (2,900 mm) wheelbase
Calthorpe 10/12 Minor 1087 cc side-valve four-cylinder water-cooled 1914-15 87-inch (2,200 mm) wheelbase
Calthorpe 10.4 1261 cc side-valve four-cylinder water-cooled 1919 99-inch (2,500 mm) wheelbase
Calthorpe 10/15 1261 cc side-valve four-cylinder water-cooled 1922-26 102-inch (2,600 mm) wheelbase. Three-speed gearbox. two-seater £240 in 1924.
Calthorpe 12/20 I and II 1496 cc side-valve four-cylinder water-cooled 1922-32 86-inch (2,200 mm) wheelbase. Four-speed gearbox. Engine quoted as 30 bhp (22 kW) at 3000 rpm. Detachable cylinder head from 1924. Two-seater £285 in 1924, £295 in 1926. Saloon £425 in 1924, £395 in 1926.
Calthorpe 12/20 III 1991 cc overhead-cam six-cylinder water-cooled 86-inch (2,200 mm) wheelbase. Very few made.
Calthorpe 10/20 1327 cc side-valve four-cylinder water-cooled 1924-31 Updated 10/15. 103-inch (2,600 mm) or 106-inch (2,700 mm) wheelbase. Two- or four-seater £235 in 1924, £215 in 1926. Pressure lubricated engine from 1925.
Calthorpe 15/45 1991 cc overhead-valve six-cylinder water-cooled 1925-28 112-inch (2,800 mm) wheelbase. Four-wheel brakes. Three-speed gearbox. Very few made.
Calthorpe 12/25 1720 cc side-valve four-cylinder water-cooled 1926 86-inch (2,200 mm) wheelbase. Updated 12/20. Pressure lubricated engine.

Calthorpe motorcycles

Calthorpe 500 cc M4 Ivory 1936

The Minstrel Cycle Company became the Minstrel & Rea Cycle Company in 1905 and started making motorcycles in 1909. The company name changed again to the Calthorpe Motor Cycle Company, and production continued until 1938.[1]

In the late 1920s, the company launched a new range under the sub-brand of Ivory Calthorpe. Using a self-produced single-cylinder sloper-design engine, the engine was similar in proportions and output to contemporary BSA units.[3] The ohv twin-port 348cc launch unit was fitted into a full-cradle duplex frame, and used a 3-speed Burman gearbox, with a tank mounted change.[3] The engine breathed through an AMAL carb, and used a BTH magneto mounted to the rear of the cylinder. By 1935 there was a 498cc option, but top speeds were similar at around 70 miles per hour (110 km/h).[1] The design was sit-in as opposed to traditional bicycle sit-on design, later described by one tester as a "sack-of-potatoes slump!"[3] With a marketing unit by no sales team, the motorcycles were exclusively sold by London-based dealer Pride & Clark in Stockwell Road, Brixton.[3] P&C stated that the units should be sold at £52 and £54 respectively - a relatively high pricing for the time, but one which left a slim margin for Calthorpe MCC.[3]

When the receiver sold the works in 1939, Bruce Douglas, the nephew of the founder of Douglas, bought the Calthorpe equipment and moved it to Bristol.[4] He built new models powered by 347cc and 497cc Matchless engines, but only a few were built before production was stopped by the outbreak of World War II.[4] Production did not recommence after the end of the war, and the equipment was sold to DMW.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d  
  2. ^ Baldwin, N. (1994). A-Z of Cars of the 1920s. Devon, UK: Bay View Books.  
  3. ^ a b c d e CJ Ayton (1985). Guide to Pre-War British Motorcycles. Temple Press.  
  4. ^ a b c Tragatsch, Erwin (2000). The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Motorcycles. London: Quantum Publishing. p. 560.  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.