The Big Car Database

Calthorpe

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

Formation

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.

Car production

 
Pierre Garcet in his Calthorpe at the 1912 French Grand Prix in Dieppe

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 Mulliners (acquired in 1917), who had an adjacent factory. Sporting activity continued with Woolf Barnato, amongst others, racing at Brooklands. George Hands briefly left the company in 1922 to set up his own Hands make of cars in the Calthorpe motorcycle factory in Barn Street, Birmingham but returned in 1924. Whilst away he developed the six-cylinder overhead-camshaft engine that was fitted for a short time to the 12/20. The Hands cars seem to have used 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.

TimeLine

1894 The company started out as a Birmingham bicycle maker run by George W. Hands and Arthur Cake which traded as Hands and Cake

1897 The company became the Bard Cycle Manufacturing Co

1901 The Bard company was in difficulties and was wound up the following year. The business was carried on by the Minstrel Cycle Co initially in Bishop Street.

1904 Hands made his first motor cars, a 10 hp four cylinder model.

1906 The company became the Minstrel and Rea Cycle Co, which introduced the Calthorpe motorcar.

At some point the car-making activity was moved to Cherrywood Road, leaving the cycle business at Barn Street.

They briefly made some larger cars 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.

1909 The Calthorpe Motor Co Ltd advertised itself as makers of the "Victorious Calthorpe Cars"; works in Cherrywood Road; premises in John Bright Street, Birmingham[1]

1909 Introduced motorcycles, also made in Barn Street

1912 Calthorpe Motor Co (1912) Ltd incorporated. Company prospectus. Directors are Lord Teynham, Chairman; Wilfrid Hill; Daniel Taylor; George William Hands; and Harry Joyce.[2]

1913 G. A. A. Bennett is MD.[3]

1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of motorcycles see the 1917 Red Book

1914 The Calthorpe Motor Co Ltd was wound up voluntarily. George William Hands, of Temple Lodge, Trafalgar-road, Moseley, Birmingham (who was chairman) and Harry Joyce, of 1, Park-road. Moseley were appointed Liquidators of the Company.[4]

WWI The factory was turned over to making hand grenades

1919 After the war, the large cars were dropped but the Minor re-appeared with a slightly larger engine of 1,261cc.

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 Mulliners (acquired in 1917) who had an adjacent factory. Sporting activity continued with Woolf Barnatto, amongst others, racing at Brooklands. Hands briefly left the company in 1922 to set up his own Hands make of cars in the Calthorpe motorcycle factory in Barn Street, Birmingham, but returned in 1924. Whilst away he developed the six cylinder overhead camshaft engine that was fitted for a short time to the 12/20. The Hands cars seem to have used 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[5] but he kept production going for a while.

1925 The range consisted of 11 different models; the company exhibited at the Olympia Show[6]

1925 A final fling with the 1925 15/45 six cylinder 2 litre car was really too late and production of the cars had virtually ceased by 1928. About 5,000 cars were made in the post-war period, pre-war production is uncertain. Very few cars have survived.

There was also a range of Calthorpe Motorcycles (see below) and these carried on being made after car production had ended.

1925 The company was wound up[7]

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.
 

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