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Conserving a car: Humber 16/50 Tourer

25 October 2019

Our volunteers and workshop team have been given a new challenge recently, to conserve our Humber 16/50 tourer.

The Humber was acquired by the museum in a part complete state, it would need time and care put into conserving it.

This 16/50 is very rare as it has a tourer body when most were saloons. The car reflects the rationalisation of the Humber production and their emphasis on larger cars for which they became well known during the 1950s and 1960s, with Royalty and prominent politicians using their vehicles.


The Humber Company was founded in Beeston, Nottingham as a cycle makers. In 1887 the Company opened a factory in Coventry, which at that time was the centre of cycle making in Britain. In 1897 the company made its first motorcar based on a French design by Leon Bolle.

At the turn of  twentieth century motorcars, motorcycles and cycles were produced in various factories located in different areas of  Coventry. In 1908 a purpose built factory was completed in the Stoke area of the city in ‘Folly Lane’. The large factory meant Humber became one of Coventry’s largest car producers and Folly Lane was renamed Humber Road.

Humber produced a range of cars in the first half of the century but by the end of the 1920s they had rationalised their range to produce larger more luxurious cars. The 16/50 model, introduced in 1929, along with the ‘Snipe’ range became the mainstay of Humber’s production throughout the 1930s.

In 1930 Humber was taken over by the Rootes Group. This company became one of Coventry’s largest producers of cars producing vehicles from the Humber/Hillman factory in Humber Road and after WW2 from the Ryton factory on the outskirts of the city. In 2006 it was announced the Ryton factory was to close, ending over 70 years of vehicle mass production in the city.


Museum Collection

The Museum collection contains a number of Humbers reflecting their production, from the early Leon Bolle car until the last car to carry the Humber name, the Sceptre, made in the 1960s. We also have cycles and motorcycles made by the company. The Tourer was very popular at this time and Humber reflected this with the production of the 16/50 Tourer. The car represents a period when the company produced a chassis and engine and then very different style bodies were placed on the chassis.

Ongoing Work

Our workshop volunteers led by Rob our Workshop Technician, have been painstakingly and lovingly conserving the Humber to better reflect its original condition.

Here's a list of some of the work our team have undertaken already:

  • Conditioned the canvas hood, which was hard and brittle, so that it is now supple and able to be used without fear it will rip. Completed by Rob the technician and volunteer Harry.
  • Adjust the timing as the leads were incorrectly attached meaning it wouldn’t fire up in the right sequence. Completed by Rob the technician, volunteer Alan, plus other volunteers.
  • Replaced the chrome fixtures which had been stored in a box in the car. Completed by whole team.
  • Refitted the door using a correct hinge found in our parts store. Completed by Rob the technician.
  • Replaced a section of the wooden floor which was too rotten to use. The new wood has been measured and cut using the original piece as a pattern. Its been stained to look in-keeping but also clearly marked. Done to ensure it's clear to future generations that it’s a replacement part, in-line with best practice. Completed by volunteer Roger B.
  • Checked the wiring loom and electrics, replaced with original pattern bulbs if needed. Completed by volunteer Brian.
  • Checked and cleaned the braking and fuel systems. Completed by volunteers Gary and Roger W.

Our team still have more work to complete before the Humber is fully conserved, but so far they have been doing an excellent job. Here's some of the tasks left before the work is finished.

To do;

  • Finish reattaching the internal upholstery. This is a painstaking task, but it is already half way there, being undertaken by volunteer Pete.
  • Rebraiding the wiring loom. Being undertaken by volunteer Brian
  • Replacing the exhaust with a correct original version. Being undertaken by volunteers Alan and Pete.
  • Continue sourcing sympathetic engineering companies to help us with parts. Continuing to be done by volunteer Pete.
  • Write up conservation work into vehicle's history file. Will be completed by all team.

Follow us on Social Media to see the continued progress that our workshop team and volunteers are making. 

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