We do not know the exact specification of the Crossleys in this Snapshot –but since they were being used for the prestigious occasion of the visit of Crown Prince Hirohito of Japan to the Crossley factory in Gorton, east Manchester, it is likely that they were examples of the very latest models produced by the Crossley factory: the 19.6 3.8-litre car introduced in 1920. A clue may be the louvres on the top of the bonnet near the scuttle, which are seen in an example supplied in 1922 to the Prince of Wales.
The Crossley company had come out of the Great War with sound finances. Deliveries of the 25/30, introduced towards the end of war, began to be made to private buyers from February 1919. The 25/30 had royal patronage, with examples supplied to King George V, the Prince of Wales, and the Kings of Spain and Siam. The Crown Prince is also reported to have bought a Crossley, either a 25/30 or a 19.6, probably as a result of his visit to Manchester.
The 19.6, marketed as “a high grade touring car”, was designed by T.D. Wishart who had taken over from previous designers Reeves and Wood and was to remain with Crossley until the end of car production in 1937. The 19.6 was, like its 20/25 and 25/30 predecessors, a 4-cylinder car, but a new feature was a detachable cylinder head. The Motor in 1921 was very complimentary about its hill-climbing abilities, light steering, easy gear-changing and comfortable seating. Production of the 19.6 continued until 1926 during which time approximately 1150 were made.
Prince Hirohito’s visit to Manchester was but a small part of a mammoth six-month trip. He was the first member of the Imperial family to leave Japanese soil. He would remember the experience as the happiest time in his life.
Hirohito stayed mainly in England and France, but he also made visits, of about one week each, to Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy. The trip was a life-changing experience for the young prince, who turned 20 while on the voyage to Europe, and it was his visit to England that made the deepest impression on him. He was attracted by the freedom and informality of the British royal family; on his first day at Buckingham Palace, King George V paid him an unexpected breakfast visit in carpet slippers, and Edward, Prince of Wales, played golf with him and accompanied him on a round of official gatherings.
On November 25, 1921, shortly after his return to Japan, Hirohito was appointed to serve as regent for his father, who had begun to show increasing signs of decline. Hirohito became emperor in 1926 and reigned until 1989.
Image courtesy of The Richard Roberts Archive: www.richardrobertsarchive.org.uk