Crossley Motors, based in Manchester, England, produced approximately 19,000 high quality cars from 1904 until 1938, 5,500 buses from 1926 until 1958 and 21,000 goods and military vehicles from 1914 to 1945.
In 1920 Crossley Motors bought 34283 (68.5%) of the 50000 issued shares of the nearby A V Roe and Company better known as Avro. Crossley took over Avro's car manufacturing business but Avro continued its aircraft manufacturing operations independently. Crossley had to sell their shares in Avro to Armstrong Siddeley in 1928 to pay for the losses incurred in Willys-Overland-Crossley.
After World War II the directors decided that the company was not large enough to prosper and looked for a partner. This resulted in a take over by AEC. Production continued at the Stockport plant of the Crossley range of vehicles until 1952. After that date the production was of badge engineered AEC designs until the factory closed in 1958. Although no longer trading the company was never formally wound up and in 1969 AEC's new owner, British Leyland, restarted the company with a new name, Leyland National, and production of single decker buses recommenced.
With the steady increase in vehicle production, the limits of the Gorton site were again soon reached, and in 1914 a further 48 acre (194,000 m²) site was bought in Heaton Chapel, Stockport which became the Errwood Park Works. Construction of the new factory started in 1915, and although intended to relieve congestion on the old site, it was rapidly given over to war work. The western half the site, built in 1917, but only managed by the Crossley Motors, became National Aircraft Factory No. 2. In 1919, this factory was bought from the government and became the Willys Overland Crossley plant, but was eventually sold to Fairey Aviation in 1934. In 1938, the eastern side became another aircraft factory, this time managed by Fairey, and after World War II became the final home of Crossley Motors. Re-armament work caused the search for more space and in 1938 a factory was opened in Greencroft Mill, Hyde about east of Errwood Park.
Production of the first cars was on a small scale but from 1909 when a new range was introduced it rapidly built up. In that year the 20hp was introduced (later called the 20/25) and this was taken up by the British War Office and from 1913 it was ordered for the new Royal Flying Corps (RFC). With the outbreak of World War I came a rapid expansion of the RFC and by 1918 they had over 6000 of the vehicles with staff car, tender (light truck) and ambulance bodies.
Crossley 25/30 hp Tenders were utilised by the British Army in Ireland from 1919 until their withdrawal in 1922. The Irish Army continued to use them for troop transport throughout the Civil War period, but they were worked hard and appeared to have received little care: of 454 originally supplied, only 57 were in service by 1926 with a further 66 being overhauled or repaired.
Car production resumed after the war and a new model, the 19.6, was launched but by the late 1920s the market for hand made cars began to disappear and the company moved into the bus market and launched its first model, the Eagle in 1928. The last cars were made in 1937. In addition to cars and buses the company also made military vehicles starting with the BGT1 in 1923. From 1936 production was rapidly ramped up with British re-armament at first with the IGL models but from 1940 with the FWD four wheel drive chassis in both tractor unit and truck form. By 1945 over 10,000 FWDs had been made.
After World War II there was a boom in the bus industry as war time losses needed to be replaced. Crossley won what was then the largest ever British export order for buses with a contract with the Dutch government. By the late 1940s bus orders were decreasing and it became clear that the company was too small to continue as an independent manufacturer and in 1948 they were sold to AEC. The last Crossley chassis was made in 1952, but body production continued at Erwood Park until 1958.