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British Industrial History

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Rodley Automobile Co

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of Aireldale Mills, Rodley, Leeds

The Rodley was a British microcar designed by Henry Brown and built by the Rodley Automobile Company in Leeds between 1954 and 1955.

The body was of steel construction, rather than the more usual glass fibre, and was mounted on a steel chassis. The engine was a rear mounted air cooled 750 cc twin cylinder unit made by JAP driving the rear wheels through a three speed gearbox and chain to the axle which had a friction differential. The suspension was by independent coil springs at the front and under slung semi elliptic at the rear. Steering was by a chain system.

Although the car was advertised as a four seater and fitted with four seats, those in the back were very small and cramped. The roof was fabric and could be rolled forwards to give an opening roof.

Although the production target was 50 cars a week only 65 were ever built and only one is believed to survive. It was at the time the cheapest four wheel car available on the British market but rapidly acquired a very poor reputation especially for over heating to the extent of catching fire.

1954 January. Company registered. '...Research work and the production a prototype has been done at the canal-side works of the Castra Electric Washing Machine Co, of which Mr. Brown is a partner. The prototype has been seen tested around the Rodley district, but since three experimental bodies have been tried on it the final look the production model remains secret....'[1]

1955 July. 'An ex-RAF man who had hopes of building a People’s car the rate of 50 a week in his factory at Rodley, near Leeds, going out of business. As reported in The Yorkshire Post yesterday, negotiations for a Southern company to take over the Rodley Automobile Co. Ltd., makers of the Rodley car, have fallen through. Mr. Henry Brown, the Horsforth engineer who pioneered the Rodley, was making what he claimed to be the cheapest car on the market. It weighed 9 cwt., cost a basic £210, and had a four-seater saloon body. Mr. Brown was aiming a car that was comfortable and weatherproof, would cruise at 40 m.p.h., and would achieve petrol consumption of 60 miles per gallon. His car was powered by 6 h.p. Jap engine and had independent front suspension.'[2]

1955 August. Company in liquidation.[3]

Model 750 1954-55

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Yorkshire Evening Post - Thursday 28 January 1954
  2. Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 09 July 1955
  3. The London Gazette Publication date:9 August 1955 Issue:40557 Page:4577