British Anzani - a company history
(page 4)

1954 English advert

US Minor Ad
1953 US ad for the Minor

Outboard motor production became Anzani’s biggest selling (and perhaps best known) item over the years and numerous models were produced: the Minor (1955-79) a small ½hp general purpose dinghy motor, Super Single (1942-79 158cc, 5hp) the engine that was produced for the longest time and arguably the best known - another general workhorse. Jet (Single, 60cc, 3hp) a fibre glass cowled engine with ‘guarded drive’ protection for swimmers etc, Sports Twin (1950-51) 316cc 14hp, speedy but short lived, Unitwin (1951-67 Twin, 242cc 10hp, and 322cc 15hp, plus full race versions of both) the most advanced engine of it’s day, powerful and reliable, Pilot (Single, 60cc, 2.5hp) another general purpose engine with the distinguishing bar around the cowl, Seamaid (Single, 60cc 3hp) fibre glass cowled general purpose engine, Startwin (1960 Twin, 344cc, 18hp) renamed Magnatwin, powerful twin featuring ‘Contrastart’ electric start with instant forward or reverse, Supertwin 15 (Twin, 322cc, 15hp) streamlined fibre glass cowled Unitwin, Fleetwin 20 (Twin, 344cc, 20hp), Triton (1960 3 cylinder 30hp, 492cc), Magnatwin (1958-1960 Twin, 344cc, 18hp) a large electric start model which could be remotely controlled, Model 65 (1964-67 6.5hp), Model 180 (1964-67 18hp), Model 400 (1964-67 40hp) which were the Oliver/Perkins engines. There was also an inboard version of the 4hp Super Single called the ‘Dinghy Motor’ (1952).

From 1957 to 1963 the Unitwin was imported to the US by legendary racer Bill Tenney of the Aeromarine Co. of Crystal Bay, Minnesota and they soon started winning races. Tenney added his considerable expertise to their development by communicating regularly with the factory making suggestions for improvements many of which Harrison incorporated. You could buy a full race Anzani Unitwin for $595 or $495 for the standard engine. Later the Anzani marque was sold by Millie and Kay Harrison of Birmingham Metal Products of Birmingham, Ohio who also added their modifications to the imported engines. When the British factory ceased production (c1967) they bought the remaining parts from England and assembled the engines themselves - making any missing parts in their factory - and sold the hybrid motors as ‘Harrisons’.

Charles Harrison's Unitwin race engine was a project he had direct input in the design and development of. The basic engine specs were: 60mm bore × 55mm stroke (322cc) or 52mm bore × 55mm stroke (242cc), light alloy head allowing adjustment of the compression ratio for racing, Amal carb, rotary inlet valves and twin spark flywheel magneto. The underwater unit, called the Silver Arrow, was streamlined and efficient and carried a 10" three blade propellor. Anzani also sold a complete kit of race parts that could be bought seperately and added to the standard engine. It consisted of high compression head, carb kit, plugs, drive shaft and prop.

1954 Super Single

1954 Pilot

1954 Unitwin
The production of outboard motors was given a fillip in 1964 when the Company bought the remnant of the Chris-Craft/Oliver marque which they acquired from the car makers Rootes Group.

In 1959 Perkins had come to an arrangement with the US company Oliver to manufacture their range of outboards in the UK. The American designs were technically more advanced than their British counterparts and at the time US supplied engines carried a heavy UK import duty so the British-made versions could be sold up to 40% cheaper than the American-made originals. Mechanical reliability problems soon meant Perkins had sold the rights to the Rootes car making group of companies (Sunbeam/ Humber/Hillman) who sold them through their car dealerships with the Rootes nameplate.
Anzani 180
Anzani 180
However marketing confusion with car salesmen unfamiliar with outboards and service engineers likewise brought about another short tenure. British Anzani bought the parts, jigs and tools in 1964 but despite some design changes failed to cure the unreliability problems and production ceased in 1967. The engines were marketed as the Anzani 65, 180 and 400 models.

1959 Easimow

Anzani went into lawnmower production in the late 50’s with a range of equipment of mostly larger scale 14”, 16” and 24” mowers for professional purposes. Production went on until the late 1960’s from their new factory in Aylesford in Kent. The range included the Lawnrider (a 150cc 4 stroke sit-on mower in 18” and 24” widths), the Ridamow (another sit-on mower with a detachable seat for self propelled operation, 150cc 4 stroke 24” width), the Powermow (a self propelled 24” width mower) and for smaller areas the Easimow, (a 14” self propelled 4-stroke 48cc machine). All the petrol driven mowers included the Heli-Strand flexible drive power take-off system which provided a range of additional tools that could be driven directly from the mower. These included a chain saw, hedge cutter, log saw, pruning saw and rotary grass cutter. The range also saw the Company’s first electric mower the Whispamow, a 14” two-speed battery driven machine with built-in charger. They produced add-ons too for a descendant of the Iron Horse: the Honda F30 tractor. The Heli-Swift 30 was a 20” grasscutting attachment belt driven from the tractor costing £35 15s 0d. The Foldakart was a heavy duty wheelbarrow designed to compliment the mower range.

In 1961 British Anzani had bought a company called the Maidstone Sack & Metal Company which was owned by the entrepreneurial Faull Bros. (Gerald and Stanley) who then completed a take-over in reverse by buying out British Anzani and turning themselves into the British Anzani Group. The new company expanded into not only scrap metal but paper conversion, quarrying, civil engineering, contracting and fatally, property development and warehousing. For a time they were very successful and employed over 200 people but the high interest rates and depressed property market of the late 1970’s brought the property rich company down. By 1973 (around which time it is believed Charles Harrison died) the remaining British Anzani outboard production had been taken over by Boxley Engineering of Maidstone in Kent who continued to manufacture the Pilot 3hp ‘30’ model and the 5hp Super Single ‘50’. By 1979 however production of these last remaining Anzani engines had ceased completely.

The British Anzani Group finally went into liquidation in 1980.

Anzani House, part of their port development in Felixstowe, is still in existence and is an office block.
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