Hoover Model 105 – c.1919-23

‘The Hoover frees you and your servants forever from the tyranny of the broom; ends that wasteful, unavailing expenditure of human energy; and to you it means a home which is always scrupulously clean – because it can be thoroughly cleaned so easily and so rapidly.’

Manufactured: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Motor: Single-speed Robbins and Myers (final examples used first Hoover-made motors). Brass sleeve bearings requiring regular manual oiling.

Bag: Chemically treated white sateen.

Chassis: Unpolished sand-cast aluminium.

Handle: Wooden broom-type.

Brush-roll: Boar-hair bristle.

Sold Alongside: N/A

Manufactured at Hoover’s plant in Hamilton, Ontario, the machines were shipped to Hoover’s London Depot. They were sold door-to-door, and through upmarket department stores Harrods and Selfridges.

The sateen bag was chemically-treated with a dust-proof film. Hoover recommended that the bag never be washed, brushed, or even turned inside-out, because this caused damage to the chemical coating. The thin sateen material tended to wear out relatively quickly, and Hoover’s Research and Development department was continually engaged in developing bag materials which provided better filteration, and were more durable.

Despite advertising claims, at £25, a Hoover cleaner was a luxury item far too expensive for most people. The average Hoover customer purchased the cleaner to be used by their servants! However, even in their first year selling in the UK, Hoover managed to find 2,250 customers.

Hoover was already by far the largest and best-selling manufacturer of vacuum cleaners worldwide, but in Britain, they were largely unheard of. Part of Hoover’s challenge in introducing their product to Britain was to create a market for it. They had to explain to prospective customers why they should part with so much money for an unfamiliar appliance. Their sales pitch was as follows:

Why own a vacuum cleaner?

  • Cleans much more effectively than manually beating or sweeping a carpet.
  • Traps the dust in a bag, rather than stirring it up into the air; less messy and more hygienic.
  • Cleaning can be done with the rugs in place; no need to remove the rug, or the furniture.
  • More cost-effective than sending rugs away to be professionally cleaned.

Why own The Hoover?

  • Uses Hoover’s unique motor-driven brush, which sweeps and vibrates the carpet on a cushion of air, removing dirt much more effectively than suction-only cleaners. Hoover’s patent on this device prevents rival brands using a motor-driven brush until 1925.
  • No need to scrape the nozzle rapidly across the rug as with some rival machines – just guide The Hoover slowly back and forth.
  • Much gentler and less wearing on rugs than sweeping manually with a broom, or smashing with a carpet-beater.
  • Efficiency of design ensures cleaning takes less time.
  • Reduces labour – replaces a servant in the household.
  • Costs very little to run, and needs minimal maintenance.

A full set of dusting tools were available Special Model 105. These fitted to the front of the machine using a pan-type converter. Hoover suggested that the user disconnect the drive-belt when using tools – this freed the motor of the extra load of turning the brush-roll, and increased suction by one-third.

Hoover Model 541 – c.1923-26

Hoover Model 531

‘Lighter, handsomer, better – the finest electric cleaner for the home ever devised by the industry’s oldest and largest maker…’

Manufactured: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Motor: Single-speed, Hoover-built unit. Brass sleeve bearings requiring regular oiling.

Bag: Spreader-top, chemically-treated white sateen.

Chassis: Unpolished die-cast aluminium.

Handle: Wooden with fibre handgrip and metal cap.

Brush-roll: Boar hair bristle.

Sold Alongside: Model 961.

Model 541 replaced Model 105, and featured a number of improvements:

  • A more durable bag: double-lined at the bottom for greater durability.
  • Lighter in weight to previous models: first Hoover to be made of die-cast aluminium.
  • Lower in height to previous models: easier access under low furniture.
  • New dusting attachments: more efficient and easier to fit.
  • Non-marring handgrip: won’t mark or scuff walls.
  • Ball-bearing brush-roll: more efficient for a longer lifespan.
  • Belt-life doubled: lower maintenance and less expenditure on consumables.

Model 541 was less expensive than the machine it replaced, due to Hoover’s pioneering use of die-casting. Although still out of most people’s reach, the price reduction made it more attainable. In America, Hoover sold nearly 650,000 Model 541s during the 3-year production run, nearly 250,000 units more than they sold of Model 105.

In 1923, Hoover sold their 1,000,000th cleaner.

Hoover Model 700 ‘The Greater Hoover’ – c.1926-29

‘The most marvellous electric cleaner the world has ever seen. A cleaner which required years of painstaking effort to produce! A cleaner that astounded even its makers by its spectacular performance!’

Manufactured: Canada, Hamilton, Ontario.

Motor: 190w, single-speed. Fully sealed with upper and lower self-lubricating ball bearings.

Bag: Spreader-top, black Ronac material.

Chassis: Highly polished die-cast aluminium.

Handle: Metal with ebony pistol handgrip.

Brush-roll: Patented Hoover ‘Agitator’.

Price: £17.17.0, plus £3.3.0 for dusting tools

Sold Alongside: Models 543, 961/972.

Hoover Model 700 has a significant place in vacuum cleaner history as the first Hoover to introduce the famous ‘Agitator’ brush-roll.

The beneficial use of vibration in extracting dirt from rugs had become apparent to Hoover’s engineers soon after the initiation of their Research and Development Program in 1909. They spent the next 17 years experimenting and testing numerous iterations of the design, enhancing the agitation of the carpet.

By 1926, they had perfected the concept: a rotating metal cylinder with two rows of boar-hair brush strips, and 4 polished metal beater-bars. The rug was lifted off the ground by the powerful suction and held against the rug plate, while beater-bars tapped gently at the rug. This created gentle waves of vibration, shaking loose grit particles buried deep in the carpet pile. Hoover called this effect ‘Positive Agitation’, and claimed it lead to a 101% increase in cleaning efficiency.

The introduction of the ‘Agitator’, protected by Hoover’s patents until 1950, gave Model 700 a distinct selling point; a feature which made it demonstrably better to all other electric cleaners.

Innovations introduced with Model 700:

  • First domestic Hoover model with a motor equipped with upper and lower ball-bearings. These were permanently lubricated, and as they didn’t require oiling by the user, this reduced the regular maintenance needed. Suction was 50% more powerful than Hoover’s previous model.
  • First model to use a rubber power cord: this was more durable and resistant to damage than previous power cords, which were cloth-coated, and tended to fray with use.
  • First model to use a finger-tip on/off switch: the wiring ran down the inside of the hollow metal handle, where it was protected from damage and wear.
  • First model to use the new ‘Ronac’ bag material: this was stronger, longer-lasting and provided a higher level of filtration than the sateen material used previously. It required no chemical or pressure treatment, and could be used straight off the loom, simplifying the manufacturing process.
  • First model with a highly-polished chassis and motor: made the cleaner look much more like an expensive, luxury object than former, utilitarian models.
  • First model to introduce Hoover’s signature orange and black colour scheme.

Hoover Model 725 – c.1929-32

Hoover Model 725

‘Model 725 is the finest electric cleaner ever built. 25% more efficient than any previous Hoover. A new type cloth bag with an opening on the top for simplified removal of the dirt. A more powerful, smooth-running ball-bearing motor. An improved fan. An automatic friction-stop handle control. Non-rusting, Nitralloy beater bars. It is also newly beautiful in line and finish.’

Manufactured: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Motor: 290w, 2-speed.

Bag: Slide-top, black Ronac material.

Chassis: Highly-polished die-cast aluminium.

Handle: Metal with rubber grip.

Brush-roll: Patented Hoover ‘Agitator’.

Sold Alongside: Models 575, 972, Dustette 100, Minor 200.

When designing Model 725, Hoover engineers studied previous Model 700 and identified areas to improve on to enhance performance, efficiency and ease of use. They looked at several key features:

  • The motor gained an extra 100w of power, and an internal cooling fan for improved thermal management.
  • The impeller gained additional blades to move more airflow. Together with the extra motor power, this made Model 725 25% more efficient than Model 700.
  • For the first time, the bag could be opened at the top by removing a metal slider. This meant bulky fluff and debris could be emptied more easily. 
  • The bag’s ‘spreader-top’ design was replaced by a new canvas strap attached to a spring mechanism inside the handle. It provided exactly the right amount of tension: not so much that the bag was under unnecessary stress, but enough to ensure the bag never dragged on the ground, even with the handle fully reclined.
  • The foot-operated handle release pedal was replaced by a new sprung ‘friction stop’ mechanism. This kept the handle securely upright for storage, but reclined effortlessly for use.
  • The motor was decorated with an orange band. In another first, the bag was decorated with an attractive Art Deco motif, also in orange, in addition to the Hoover brand name.

Hoover Model 750 – c.1932-33

‘The new 2-speed Hoover.’

Manufactured: Perivale, Greenford, Middlesex, London.

Motor: 275/290w, 2-speed.

Chassis: Highly-polished aluminium.

Handle: Metal with rubber grip.

Brush-roll: Patented Hoover ‘Agitator’.

Sold alongside: Models 425, 900, Dustette 100, Minor 200.

Aesthetically and mechanically similar to Model 725, Model 750 was part of the first range of Hoover vacuums to be manufactured at Hoover’s newly-completed factory in Perivale, Greenford, Middlesex, West London.

Although some final production examples of Model 725 had included a 2-speed motor, Model 750 was the first to include it from the start of production. High power was for thicker rugs, and the new lower power option was ideal for light rugs and delicate furnishings, and for limiting noise. The 3-position fingertip switch on the handle didn’t prove particularly reliable over time, with contact points which jammed. When stock of replacement parts eventually ran out in later years, Hoover service engineers often installed a single-speed switch set to run at high power.

In America, Model 750 also introduced another significant ‘first’; it was the first vacuum cleaner fitted with a headlight. Prompted by a suggestion they received from a customer, Hoover engineers set about trying to incorporate a headlight onto the front of their machine. A 120v bulb would burn out too quickly, but the engineers soon realised they could use the field coils of the motor as a step-down transformer for a 25w bulb. The ‘Hoover Hedlite’ was useful when cleaning under furniture, and along dark corridors. It inspired the tag line, ‘It shows you the dirt you never knew you had!

Hoover Model 800 ‘The Jubilee Cleaner’ – c.1933-36


‘These new lightweight Hoovers are the finest and most beautiful cleaners to have ever come from the oldest and largest maker of electric cleaners. Designed by famous stylists, they are smartly streamlined, with new colour schemes, new decorations and smart new bags…’

Manufactured: Perivale, Greenford, Middlesex, West London.

Styling: Henry Dreyfuss.

Motor: 360w, 2-speed.

Chassis: Highly-polished, die-cast aluminium.

Handle: Metal with rubber grip.

Brush-roll: Patented Hoover ‘Agitator’.

Sold Alongside: Models 370, 450, 925, Dustette 100, Minor 200B.

The exquisitely-styled Hoover Model 800 was introduced in 1934. It was part of Hoover’s ‘Jubilee’ range, which celebrated the 25th year of King George IV’s reign with the words ‘Jubilee Cleaner’ printed on the bag for 1935 only.

Model 800 introduced a more powerful 360w motor, and as with Model 750, it offered both regular and low power modes. It was the first British Hoover vacuum to include a headlight, known as ‘The Dirt Finder’, which was styled by Henry Dreyfuss. Taking Hoover’s American ‘Hedlite’ as a starting point, Dreyfuss did away with the clumsy, awkward protrusion on the front of the motor cap, relocating the bulb underneath the cap itself. The cap was then adorned with a streamlined Art Deco motif suggesting aerodynamic speed and efficiency.

Hoover Model 825 – c.1936-38

‘When redesigning the Hoover, we have endeavoured to produce a series of machines that are a sheer joy to behold while at the same time their efficiency has been considerably increased…’

‘Every part of our existing machines was reviewed so that Model 825 should have beauty in every detail…’

Manufactured: Perivale, Greenford, Middlesex, West London.

Styling: Henry Dreyfuss.

Motor: 360w, 2-speed.

Chassis: Highly-polished, die-cast aluminium.

Handle: Metal with rubber grip.

Brush-roll: Patented Hoover ‘Agitator’.

Price: £19.19.0 plus £3.3.0 for dusting tools.

Sold Alongside: Models 375, 475, 925, Dustette 100.

Hoover Model 825 differs from the preceding Model 800 only in styling. Henry Dreyfuss, previously employed to restyle Model 800’s headlamp motor cap with a beautiful art deco flourish, worked his magic again with Model 825. He created a clean, simple ‘black stripe’ style which runs from the badge at the front of the machine, along the motor cap and dust bag.

Unique to Model 825 was a feature common to luxury motor cars of the time – a light-up brand logo atop the motor cap, which lit up in red while the machine was running:

The red theme was continued on the new dust bag design:

Hoover Model 150 Cleaning Ensemble – c.1935-39 (US only)

1926-1936. The first basically new cleaner in ten years.’

Manufactured: Hoover Company, North Canton, Ohio.

Styling: Henry Dreyfuss.

Motor: 360w, 2-speed.

Chassis: Lightweight magnesium, painted ‘stratosphere grey’ finish. Black Bakelite motor hood.

Brush-roll: Patented Hoover ‘Agitator’.

Sold Alongside: Models 300, 26, Dustette 100.

The 1935 US Model 150 was the basis for the UK Model 160. Model 150 has a significant place in Hoover’s history, introducing a number of important design refinements.

  • A chassis made of magnesium, ‘the new airplane metal’. One third lighter than aluminium, but stronger.
  • A Bakelite motor hood, further reducing weight.
  • Dusting tools which could be connected to the machine with the motor running, by slotting an adaptor into the side of the chassis. The tools themselves were also new, made of lightweight Bakelite and Duralumin.
  • ‘Time to Empty Signal’, an air-pressure activated bag-full indicator which showed a red dot through a small window in the chassis when the bag needed emptying. This was a first on any vacuum cleaner.
  • An automatic rug adjuster mechanism to ensure the machine was correctly adjusted for optimum cleaning efficiency. By touching the handle-release pedal as they changed from one floor covering to another, the user could quickly and conveniently alter the height of the suction opening to the required level.
  • A clip-on plug to ensure tidy cord storage.
  • A spring-mounted chassis to absorb the shock of passing over door sills

The wrap-around motor band was also slightly different to the British version – there was no royal crest on the 150, so the wording ‘The Hoover Cleaner’ was uninterrupted across the front of the band.

Henry Dreyfuss was paid $25,000 for his design work – a vast sum by 1935 standards. Buyers purchasing the cleaner by instalment paid a $1.50 down payment.

Nearly 170,000 machines were built in total during Model 150’s production run.

Hoover Model 160 Cleaning Ensemble – c.1938-39/1945-49

‘A totally new idea in electric cleaners…’

Manufactured: Perivale, Greenford, Middlesex, West London.

Styling: Henry Dreyfuss.

Motor: 360w, 2-speed.

Motor rpm: 9,000

Chassis: Die-cast magnesium, dark grey painted finish. Black Bakelite motor hood.

Agitator rpm: 3,000

Sold Alongside: Models 375, 262, 960, Dustette 100.

Hoover Model 160 Cleaning Ensemble, introduced in Britain in 1938, represented the first major redesign of the vacuum cleaner since it’s initial launch in the UK. The streamlined form was the work of famed industrial engineer Henry Dreyfuss. Previous cleaners such as Models 450, 800, 475 and 825 had included styling touches, again by Dreyfuss, aimed at updating the appearance of the cleaner, but Model 160 was unique in that the cleaner’s appearance was an equally important consideration as the performance during the design process.

Dreyfuss’ design ethos centred around concealing the workings of the machine under a streamlined ‘skin’ of metal and plastic. The hood took on the teardrop form of aerodynamic automobiles and locomotives, its smooth simplicity suggesting both cleanliness and speed. The dirtfinder headlamp shone out through a rectangular opening at the front of the structure.

Another refinement introduced with this model was a handgrip halfway up the handle for carrying the cleaner. A toolkit was included as standard with this cleaner, and due to a newly designed insertion system, they could be attached to the cleaner while the motor was running, an improvement on the older system which involved a fiddly process to fit and remove the tools, and had to be performed with the motor switched off.

Hoover Model 612 – c.1949-55

Manufactured: Perivale, Greenford, Middlesex, West London.

Styling: Henry Dreyfuss.

Weight: 8.85kg.

Motor: 330w, single-speed.

Motor rpm (on carpet): 8,000

Chassis: Die-cast aluminium, ‘bronze’ painted finish. Dark brown or tortoise shell Bakelite motor hood.

Agitator rpm(on carpet): 2,900

Price: £22.5.0

Hoover Model 612 traces its form back to 1939’s US Model 60 – it took a decade to reach Britain, largely due to World War II. Simple, robust and technically very similar to preceding Model 160, it introduced a new, low profile motor and hood, allowing easier cleaning under low furniture. The headlight was shielded by a wrap-around lens of clear perspex, echoing the ‘sun trap’ window design of contemporary buildings.

Earlier Model 612 examples include a hood made of tortoise shell bakelite: 

Hoover 612 Headlight

Hoover Model 638 – c.1955-59

Hoover Model 638

Manufactured: Perivale, Greenford, Middlesex, West London.

Styling: Henry Dreyfuss.

Weight: 8.85kg.

Motor: 330w, single-speed Hoover-built unit.

Motor rpm (on carpet): 8,000

Chassis: Die-cast aluminium, ‘pale grey’ painted finish. Blue trim.

Agitator rpm (on carpet): 2,900

Hoover Model 638 differs from preceding Model 612 in styling, and one other key innovation: it was the first Hoover model in the UK to introduce a disposable paper dust bag. All preceding Hoover vacuums had included a permanent cloth bag which needed to be emptied after each use.

The headlamp bulb socket was repositioned to allow for the new hood design. It also ushered in a new, more modern colour palette of blue and pale grey

Hoover De Luxe Model 652 – c.1959-62

Manufactured: Perivale, Greenford, Middlesex, West London.

Styling: Henry Dreyfuss.

Weight: 8.85kg.

Motor: 385w, single-speed.

Motor rpm (on carpet): 8,900.

Chassis: Die-cast aluminium, white painted finish. ‘Rose’ plastic motor hood and trim.

Agitator rpm (on carpet): 2,700.

Moving away from the angular lines of Models 612 and 638, Henry Dreyfuss clad the De Luxe Model 652 in smooth, curved aerodynamic casing that echoed 1935’s Model 150. A bright and modern colourway of white and rose lifted and lightened the design.

Hoover Model 652A – c.1965

Hoover Model 652A

Manufactured: Perivale, Middlesex, West London.

Styling: Henry Dreyfuss.

Weight: 8.16kg.

Motor: 420-650w, two-speed.

Motor rpm (on carpet): 8,900.

Chassis: Die-cast aluminium.

Agitator rpm (on carpet): 2,700

On the face of it, Model 652A is just a recoloured version of De Luxe Model 652. However, it did feature a number of minor changes to design and trim, simplifying the machine and reducing manufacturing costs.

The on/off switch now sat on top of the chassis where it was less likely to gouge furniture legs!

Hoover Convertible Model 1128 – c.

‘The finest cleaner money can buy – two cleaners in one brilliant design!’

Manufactured: SA Hoover, France.

Styling: Hoover

Weight: 8.39kg

Motor: 840w, single speed.

By the mid-1960’s, Hoover’s uprights had undergone a few essential improvements: they were lower in profile, lighter in weight, easier to use, and more efficient. But they relied on exactly the same ‘direct-air’ technology as James Murray Spangler’s first ‘Electric Suction Sweeper’, designed over 50 years before.

Direct-air vacuum cleaners did have some useful qualities: their large, deep-bladed impellers generated powerful airflow, which made them excellent carpet cleaners. They also achieved a high level of carpet-cleaning efficiency whilst consuming a low level of electricity.

But the direct-air principle had two serious drawbacks: although the airflow generated was high, suction pressure was relatively low. This meant that their pick-up power was greatly diminished when a length of hose was attached, and the usefulness of the dusting tools was severely limited. This meant it was often necessary to supplement the upright with a cylinder or hand-held vacuum for above-floor cleaning tasks.

The fact that the debris-laden air passed directly through the impeller also left the blades vulnerable to damage resulting from users accidentally vacuuming up coins, small stones, and similar objects. Since an impeller spinning at high speed has to be very precisely balanced, any chipped or broken blades could create noise, vibration, and premature bearing wear, requiring expensive and time-consuming repairs.

Hoover’s engineers set out to completely re-think the traditional upright format, and eventually developed and patented a better solution. In 1967 came the UK launch of the revolutionary Hoover Convertible. Known in America as the ‘Dial-A-Matic’, and in Australia as the ‘Dynamatic’, this innovative vacuum represented the single largest leap forward in the design of the upright cleaner in over half a century. It still provides the basic template for almost all upright vacuums today.

Whereas direct-air vacuums allowed dirt and debris to pass through the impeller, then blew it into a bag, the new ‘clean-air’ Convertible worked like a cylinder vacuum, placing the bag first, in front of a highly-efficient fan. As the air was filtered before it reached the fan, the fan and motor were protected from damage. The clean-air motor also generated a much greater level of suction than direct-air motors, so the Convertible still provided a high level of pick-up power when fitted with a hose.

The Convertible represented the first time the clean-air principle had been used in an upright vacuum cleaner, and as such it was the first upright which could accurately claim to be equally adept at above-floor and carpet cleaning.

The name ‘Convertible’ conjures images of sports cars, but Hoover were referring to the cleaner’s ‘convertible’ nature – it took just seconds to switch between carpet cleaning and dusting tool modes. There was no adapter to fit, and the user didn’t even need to turn the machine off; just plug the hose into the port on the back of the cleaner, and rotate the dial.

A remarkably clean, modern, slimline design, the Convertible immediately showed how outdated Hoover’s previous uprights had become. Standing back to back with a Hoover Senior 652A of the same era, it’s easy to see what a huge step forward the design of the Convertible represented.

The rear aspect was equally understated. From every angle, the Convertible looked sleek, efficient and purposeful. It was finished in a ‘pumpkin and seal greige’ colour scheme, reflecting the popular tastes of the time.

At just 9.84cm high, the new low-profile head could glide under furniture without a bulky motor-hood in the way. Constructed of die-cast aluminium, it was stong enough to withstand even the harshest blows into doorframes and table-legs.

Traditional cloth outer bags aren’t very durable: they tear, snag, and offer poor protection to the disposable paper bag inside. This means the internal paper bag has to be constructed of thicker, more durable fibres, which impede airflow and performance. The Convertible housed the bag in sturdy plastic casing – the bag walls could afford to be thinner, allowing greater airflow.

The disposable bag affixed with a cardboard collar to the inside of the hinged bag-compartment door, so replacing it was quick and easy. A simple mesh pre-filter helped protect the motor if the bag happened to split, and a bag-check indicator alerted the user if the airflow dropped sufficiently to negatively effect performance.

The hose-port is located on the rear of the cleaner. Situated low down in relation to the machine’s centre of gravity, the vacuum will follow the user if pulled by the hose, rather than toppling over. The dial operates a simple valve which allows the user to switch between ‘carpet suction’ and ‘tool suction’, and to regulate the strength of the suction power for different cleaning tasks. The dial also serves as a lower cord hook, the bag-compartment door latch serving as the upper hook.

The Convertible still used the famous Hoover Agitator, reconfigured so the drive-belt could rotate it from one end, rather than centrally. This protected the belt from incoming sharp debris by placing it out of the airstream, prolonging its working lifespan. A flat drive-belt was used for the first time since 1932’s Model 425.

The soleplate still proudly bore the words ‘THE HOOVER CLEANER MAKES RUGS LAST LONGER’, as it had done since 1926!

Hoover Concept One – c.