Dieselpunks

Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

If we're in forgotten car makes already, what about another one?

1930 Lea Francis Special_1.3

Richard Lea and Graham Francis entered into partnership in August 1895 to make advanced and relatively expensive cycles of quality in Lower Ford Street, Coventry, which soon gained a high reputation*. Less successful was their first experiment with cars in 1903, which had a strange three-cylinder underfloor engine, and did not sell.

251 Lea Francis Badge

Lea-Francis Badge by robertknight16, on Flickr

They did much better with motorcycles, which were built from 1912 to 1924, by which time the first successful light cars with Meadows engines were in production. These enjoyed some success in competition, but higher power necessitated a stronger chassis and transmission, which came in 1927 and was used both for the popular 12/40 and the exciting Hyper, the first supercharged production car. This did well in racing, winning the 1928 TT, but the effects of the depression, exacerbated by an unsuccessful attempt to move upmarket with a twin ohc six-cylinder car, resulted in receivership in the early 30s.

453 Lea Francis Lobster replica (1926)

1926 Lea-Francis Lobster replica by robertknight16, on Flickr

451 Lea Francis Hyper (Mod) (1927)

1927 Lea-Francis Hyper by robertknight16, on Flickr

267 Lea Francis Hyper TT (1928-31)

1928 Lea Francis Hyper TT by robertknight16, on Flickr

252 Lea Francis P Type (1928)

1928 Lea Francis P Type by robertknight16, on Flickr

458 Lea Francis 12/40 (1929)

1929 Lea-Francis 12/40 by robertknight16, on Flickr

459 Lea Francis 12/40 Tourer (1929)

1929 Lea-Francis 12/40 Tourer by robertknight16, on Flickr

454 Lea Francis 12/40 Saloon (1930)

1930 Lea-Francis 12/40 Saloon by robertknight16, on Flickr

446 Lea Francis Hyper (Mod) (1930)

1930 Lea-Francis Hyper by robertknight16, on Flickr

452 Lea Francis S Type Hyper TT Replica (1930)

1930 Lea-Francis Hyper S-type TT Replica by robertknight16, on Flickr

264 Lea Francis Hyper TT S Type (1928-31)

1928-31 Lea-Francis Hyper S-type TT by robertknight16, on Flickr

449 Lea Francis Hyper Sports S-Type (1930)

1930 Lea-Francis Hyper S-type by robertknight16, on Flickr

1930 Lea Francis Special_1.1

1930 Lea Francis Special 1.1 by Austin7nut, on Flickr

Lea-Francis 2-seater sports (1930)

1930 Lea-Francis 2-seater sports by Albert S. Bite, on Flickr

1930 Lea Francis P Type 2 seater Tourer (1)

1930 Lea-Francis P Type 2-seater Tourer by Austin7nut, on Flickr

1930 Lea Francis P Type 2 seater Tourer (2)

1931 Lea Francis 12/40 P-Type Tourer

1931 Lea-Francis 12/40 P-Type Tourer by Albert S. Bite, on Flickr

455 Lea Francis 12/40 (1932)

1932 Lea-Francis 12/40 by robertknight16, on Flickr

Lea-Francis was revived under new management in 1937 to produce a new car designed by ex-Riley man Hugh Rose in a factory in Much Park Street. The engine was similar in layout to the Riley, but with the two camshafts mounted high in the block and very short pushrods. Few of these cars were produced prewar, but after 1945 their successors with 14hp and (from 1949) 2½ litre power proved popular, both in the form of saloons and attractive sports cars.

37 Lea Francis 14 hp Special (1946-53)

1946-53 Lea Francis 14 hp Special by robertknight16, on Flickr

523 XUW - Lea Francis 14hp Shooting Break "Woody" estate

1948-51 Lea-Francis 14hp Shooting Break estate by homer----simpson, on Flickr

Lea Francis 14HP Sports (1948)

1948 Lea Francis 14hp Sports by Albert S. Bite, on Flickr

Lea-Francis, Austin A90

1949 Lea-Francis/Austin ad by paul.malon, on Flickr

1950 Lea Francis Sports

1950 Lea-Francis Sports by Albert S. Bite, on Flickr

1950 Lea-Francis ad by paul.malon, on Flickr

1951 Lea Francis 12_14hp 4 light Saloon_1.1

1951 Lea-Francis 12/14hp Light Saloon by Austin7nut, on Flickr

1951 Lea Francis 12_14hp 4 light Saloon_1.2

1951 Lea Francis Woody 1

1948-51 Lea-Francis 14hp Shooting Break estate by Austin7nut, on Flickr

1951 Lea Francis Woody 2

Highly tuned versions of the engine were fitted to a number of racing and sports cars, notably the first Connaughts. In the early 50s sales declined and the company concentrated on general engineering, making an ill-fated attempt at a comeback with the Ford Zephyr-engined Lynx in 1960 before the assets were finally sold in 1962.

344 Lea Francis 30/230 (1996)

1996 Lea Francis 30/230 by robertknight16, on Flickr

Recently, after many years when the name was kept alive through the valiant efforts of Barrie Price with an excellent spares and restoration service and the occasional car, the distinctive Lea-Francis badge again graced a fine new prototype sports car, brilliantly designed by Jim Randle for low-volume manufacture, but unfortunately it has not gone into production.

456 Lea Francis Hippocampus

Lea-Francis Hippocampus by robertknight16, on Flickr

All models

* Source: Lea-Francis Owners' Club

Headline photo: 1930 Lea-Francis Special 1.3 hood ornament by Austin7nut, on Flickr

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Comment by Blake "Blakesby" Canham-Bennett on April 5, 2013 at 9:09pm

Beautiful.

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