Cotton was a motorcycle firm that produced mainly modest roadsters with Villiers two stroke engines. The firm raced some, and its "coTTon" based was inspired by Stanley Woods' Isle of Man win in 1923.
When the Great Depression hit, Cotton responded by offering a wider range of engines in its patented frame, usually with Burman gearboxes.
During the 1960's a number of the smaller, specialist, British motorcycle manufacturers benefited from the option of being able to sell their products in "kit" form, which enabled their customers to avoid paying purchase tax on the machine.
The well known Gloucestershire based Cotton concern was one of the manufacturers that benefited from the concession. The company offered an extensive range of Villiers powered machines throughout the sixties, ranging from 197cc lightweight "commuters", to, in the latter half of the decade, "Starmaker" powered competition models in trials, road racing and scrambles form, together with trials and scrambles models powered by slightly less "exotic" Villiers units.. Unfortunately for Cotton the beneficial rule concerning purchase tax ended during 1968 and was compounded by Villiers decision to cease engine production, the two events conspiring to halt production for the remainder of the decade.
In 1930, engine choices were:
- 247 cc Villiers two stroke engine
- 295 cc, 348cc, and 495cc side-valve Blackburne engines
- 348 cc and 495cc ohv Blackburne engines
- 292 cc, 348cc, and 495cc ohv JAP engines
Four strokes were available with the exhaust in “single port” or “twin port”.
- In 1931 the Blackburne side valve engines disappeared, replaced by the 348cc and 499cc Rudge-Python, and a Sturmey-Archer motor entered the range.
- In 1932 all models had saddle tanks and side valve JAP engines were added. There were two 150 cc models, a side valve JAP and a Villiers two-stroke. The biggest capacity model used a 596cc ohv Blackburne engine. There was a choice of three OHV engine makes, a side valve, and a two stroke.
- For 1933 the range included 250s, in two-stroke Villiers, side-valve JAP, ohv JAP, and ohv Python. There were now 17 Cotton models.
- For 1934 150 and 250 cc ohv Blackburne engines were added, and ohv JAP engines of 245cc and 596cc. This increased the range to 19 models.
- In 1935 the Python and side valve JAP engines disappeared, but with a new choice of coil or magneto ignition, Cotton could still claim 16 models.
- In 1936 a “super sports” with a 500 cc JAP engine, and a “super sports” with a Blackburne 25B engine appeared.
- In 1937 the only Blackburne engine available was a 250 cc ohv. There were three new high-camshaft design 250, 350 and 500 cc JAP engined models, with four-speed, foot change gearboxes.
- In 1938 the 150cc model changed from JAP to unused old stock Blackburne engines. Blackburne itself was now out of production.
- By 1939 there was no 150cc model.