1950 Lea-Francis Eighteen
The LeaFrancis Company was established in 1895. They marketed a three-cylinder, 15 horsepower vehicle, noted for its three-foot long pushrods. Next, they manufactured motorcycles in the teens, returning to automobile manufacturing in 1920. During their lifespan, the company produced over 10,000 vehicles.
This example is a 1950 Lea France 2.5-liter Sports Model. There were 77 manufactured with an estimated 40 examples remaining in existence. During its era, one of its principal competitors was the Jaguar XK120.
The 2.5-Liter Lea Francis features a torsion bar suspension, and a twin-cam, four-cylinder engine with hemispherical combustion chambers fed by twin SU carburetors. The brakes are a mix of hydraulic fronts and mechanical rears. It has aluminum coachwork, ostrich trimmed upholstery and weighs a mere 1,775 pounds.
The factory slogan stated that a Lea Francis was, 'A fast car that is fascinating to handle.'
The Lea-Francis Eighteen was added to the company's lineup - which at the time included the 1.8-liter Fourteen - in 1950. The Eighteen had a four-cylinder engine that displaced 2.5-liters and was offered in both a four-door saloon and Sports Roadster body. Roadsters had separate fenders and cut-down doors, and a grille design which it shared with the saloon. There were built-in headlamps that were mounted low on the front fenders. The overhead valve engine had three main bearings and offered 95 horsepower. The Sports models had an additional SU horizontal carburetor which added an additional 100 horsepower. They had a four-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel Girling hydro-mechanical drum brakes.
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2011
In 1895, the Lea-Francis Company was founded by Richard Lea and Graham Francis to build technically advanced, high quality bicycles. They gained a reputation and in 1903, they built their first car. The car was not particularly successful, but a line of motorcycles introduced in 1912 were much better received. Car production continued through 1962 with a total of 10,000 produced.
The 2.5 Litre Sports series was introduced in 1949 in roadster and saloon configurations. They rode on a 99 inch wheelbase chassis with independent front suspension and were powered by a 4-cylidner engine with two SU carburetors offering 120 horsepower. It was capable of 100 mph. The body was built of hand-rolled aluminum and only 77 were produced.
This example is the first of only six sent to the United States market. Until acquired by the current owner, it had remained in the same family for 57 years. The restoration was completed with parts supplied by the 81 year old Englishman who acquired the company's assets when it went out of business in 1963.