Over the years, Ireland has had its fair share of car manufacturers, with the UK’s oldest surviving specialist racing car creator being located in Holywood. The Crossle Car Company was founded in 1957 by John Crossle. What started out as a personal racing project for Crossle developed into a full time business, supplying automobiles all over the world. Despite Crossle passing away in 2014, the company has continued to go from strength to strength, and we’re looking into its history.
Crossle, a former champion motorcyclist, decided to build a racing car based on an old Ford 10 van. The Crossle MK I featured a 1172 cc engine that helped lead it to victory in numerous races. The success was repeated with the Crossle MK II and MK III, which secured Crossle’s reputation as a talented and reliable designer. People started to come to him for specialist commissions, helping the business to grow.
In the 1960s, the Crossle Car Company started to take off. A range of racing vehicles were produced, including European Formula Junior, American Formula B and Formula Cs. 1968 and 1969 were important years for the company, with a Crossle 12F winning the Sports Car Club of America National Formula B Championship, and the 16F Formula Ford being created.
The 16F was a beast of a car, helping British racer Gerry Birrell win the European Formula Ford Championship.
The 1970s proved to be another good decade, kicking off with a Crossle 19F setting the first 100 mph lap record at the Aintree circuit. The following year saw a Crossle 25F set a new lap record at the Formula Ford World Cup at Brands Hatch. Victory continued in 1975 when a Crossle 31F won the first British Formula Ford 2000 Championship.
The Crossle Car Company continued to expand, with production increasing to the point that over 100 cars a year were being shipped out by the late 1970s. Export sales were a key area of success for the business, forming 81% of the profits.
By the 1990s, changes were occurring within the company. Crossle developed the innovative 80T, which went on to become a popular motor for future races. In 1997, Crossle stepped down, selling the company to racer Arnie Black.
Black led the design of the 9S sports racing car, inspired by a previous model that was first created in 1966. Modifications ensured the car could use a modern Ford Zetec 2-litre engine.
The company changed hands again in 2012, when former oil industry executive Paul McMorran took over. Crossle may no longer be around to be involved with the business, but he’d be proud to know that it has continued to thrive
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