Willys-Overland, Crossley GmbH

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Berlin, Adlershop, Rudower Chaussee 31 – 41

The Willys-Overland, Crossley company was founded in the early 1930s by Sir William Letts and Crossley Motors of Manchester. The factory was located at the Crossley Aircraft factory at Heaton Chapel, Stockport. Along with Willys-Overland, Crossley designs, the company assembled under license models from well known names such as Bugatti, AJS (motor cars only) and Austin. One aim of the company was to market and distribute British War Office products in Germany. In the case of Austin, apparently the Austin Motor Company in 1932 formed a gentleman’s agreement with Willys-Overland, Crossley to assemble and market left-hand drive Austins in Germany. Known Austin models produced include RL Saloons, RP Saloons as well as Type 65, Nippy (and possible Speedy) Sports models. It is understood that Lord Austin agreed to provide advertising of the product and a number of motor racing events in Germany as part of a 2% commission based on the German retail price of the Austin. As with many industrialists of the day, Lord Austin admired the growing German economy of the early 1930s. Hilter and Lord Austin met on at least one occasion and it is understood that Hilter’s first car was a Dixi. It is believed that at this stage little Willys-Overland, Crossley content was provided apart from manufacturing and assembling the left-hand drive components on the Type RL Saloon models.

Willys-Overland, Crossley experienced financial problems in 1933 and stopped production in the UK in 1934. R.H. Collier and company of Birmingham continued to support vehicles produced by the company in the UK. It is not known how long the German connection continued to operate and under what circumstances.

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The Willys-Overland, Crossley Limousine

As shown in 'The Austin Seven Source Book' by Bryan Purves (photo Ken Cooke)

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The Willys-Overland, Crossley engine bay

As shown in 'The Austin Seven Source Book' by Bryan Purves (photo Ken Cooke)

A number of left hand drive Austins featuring Willys-Overland, Crossley name plates have shown up over the last few years that suggest manufacturing of the left hand components (at least) continued as late as 1938. Cars featuring the LHD conversion and Willys-Overland, Crossley nameplates now include a 1936 Nippy and a late model Ruby.

The Austin Seven Motoring Pages