By Rod Ward
Frederick Wolseley, Herbert Austin and William Morris all feature in this story, among many other famous figures in British automotive history. Wolseley was a pioneering maker of cars in Britain, but as a subsidiary of Vickers they also built aircraft, aero engines, railcars, boat engines, armoured cars, trucks, buses, munitions and even a gyrocar. There was a lot of activity for the first three decades, then Wolseley was allowed to go bankrupt by Vickers and the firm was bought by William Morris. Wolseley aero engines were named after Vipers and other creatures with a sting. The cars were often given similar names, Beetle, Wasp or Hornet. Nowadays the six cylinder Wolseley Hornet is recalled with affection, but in the 1930s fans of classic vintage cars saw the rebodied ‘sports’ Hornets as vulgar and pretentious. It has been said that it was due to the Woolly Whore’s Nest that a group of enthusiasts for ‘proper sports cars’ founded the Vintage Sports Car Club. Wolseley was incorporated into the Nuffield organisation to be upmarket of Morris cars, then into the British Motor Corporation and British Leyland. At each stage Wolseley lost a little more of its individuality, with Wolseley-badged Farina saloons, Minis, 1100s, Landcrabs and Wedges. The name faded away in the 1970s, and today few enthusiasts realise what an important role Wolseley played in the history of the automobile. This is the third edition of the Wolseley Album, with some minor revisions to the text, and more new illustrations.