Crossley 20.9


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Originally the property of Maharajah Judda Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana
1929/30 Crossley 20.9hp Type IL Canberra Landaulette
Registration no. DS 8082
Chassis no. 41504

Crossley Brothers of Manchester built their first motor car in 1904. A favourite of British and foreign royalty, Crossley went on to produce well-engineered cars of high quality throughout the early part of the 20th Century. In 1926, 17 of Crossley's new 18/50hp cars were shipped to the Antipodes for the Royal Tour of the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth). These included limousine and landaulette models, and the latter's style of coachwork became known as the 'Canberra'.

In 1927 the engine was stretched to 3.2 litres for the broadly similar 20.9hp model, as seen here. This car is believed to be the only surviving 20.9hp Canberra landaulette, and has a remarkable history. It first owner was Maharajah Judda Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, whose family styled themselves as 'hereditary Prime Ministers of Nepal'. In those days there were no roads into Nepal and, after shipment to Calcutta and transport by rail, this car was carried by porters to Katmandu, (presumably partly disassembled), over several hundred miles of hilly terrain. At Katmandu there were only two-or-so miles of road on which it could be driven. It was used by successive Rana family rulers, who pursued an isolationist policy and allowed no foreigners into Nepal. This car remained in Nepal until 1968 when it was found by a visiting American, Norman Bramble, at which time the mileage was a little over 2,000. It was taken to Salt Lake City and used only very occasionally in local parades.

Crossley enthusiast, the late Richard de la Rue, acquired the car in 1988 and shipped it to England, its mileage then being 2,259. Shortly after its arrival the car featured in The Automobile magazine's May 1989 issue. The Crossley was sympathetically restored to the highest possible standards over the next couple of years, and was then put on display in the Manchester Museum of Science and Technology.

The present owner purchased the car at Bonhams' sale at the RAF Museum, Hendon in April 2001 (Lot 439). Little used either before or since restoration (the current odometer reading is only 2,829 miles), it is superbly presented in its original burgundy over black livery. The interior is especially worthy of note, with its folding and swivelling occasional seats to the rear, superb original maroon upholstery, chauffeur's speaking tube, magazine nets, and interior lighting. A rare and stately Crossley with a remarkable a history, the car comes with sundry restoration invoices and a V5C Registration Certificate. The original tyres and Nepalese number plates are included in the sale.