TWO B.M.C. PRODUCTS THE WOLSELEY 61110 and the M.G. MAGNETTE Mk. IV
AGREAT many Continental cars are tested by MOTOR SPORT because our readers are interested in individual cars but we have no desire to ignore British products and I was glad when two improved B.M.C. cars came along for appraisal. These were the Wolseley 6/no with manual gear-change and the M.G. Magnette Mk. IV.
The big Wolseley, akin to the 20-h.p., 21-60-h.p. and 25-11.p. models of this make in former decades, is a leather-upholstered, polished walnut-trimmed car at a very competitive price—just the vehicle for the homburg-hatted. I last reported on a big Wolseley, the 6/99, in November 1960, and this has been developed into the 6/no by giving it a new camshaft, stronger (double) valve springs, new bearing material, a larger inlet tract, a twin exhaust system and minor changes, elevating power to no b.h.p. at 4,750 r.p.m., and making improvements to the suspension in a car of slightly longer wheelbase, including a near-horizontal shockabsorber mounted on the centre of the back-axle to kill sway.
This big Wolseley is an impressive-looking car, capable of 105 m.p.h., and having all the acceleration to be expected from its Austin-Healey type 3-litre 6-cylinder power unit. It is unusual in having a 3-speed gearbox, the tall central lever of which is cranked towards the driver. However, the transmission is far from convenient, for although overdrive is provided, this is selected by pushing in a toggle protruding from under the facia instead of from a flick-switch, and the car has to be on drive at under 32 m.p.h. before direct top can be regained. Consequently, the widely-spaced ratios of the 3-speed gearbox are insufficiently complemented and overdrive largely wasted, especially as a freewheel operates in overdrive on the overrun at below 22 m.p.h., which is disconcerting in traffic. Engagement of overdrive takes some time to engage but operates in all forward gears, with the usual kick-down engagement from the accelerator; if the latter is used at high speeds in 1st and and gears, serious damage can result.
It is disappointing, too, to find that practically all the shortcomings of the 6/99 are repeated in the 6/i so. The close juxtaposition of half horn-ring and direction-flashers’ control (with dazzling indicator light in the switch itself) still make it highly probably that the Wolseley driver will lose one or both of his forefingers. The old-fashioned door handles move forward to open the doors. Although this is a luxury car there is courtesyaction of the interior lighting only from the front doors. The steering wheel is so large that it obstructs forward vision, yet still requires more than four turns, lock-to-lock, without any lostmotion, for steering that is not really light.
The simple instrumentation can be excused by the competitive price, a no-m.p.h. speedometer inscribed M.P.H. in big letters being matched by a combined-services dial. An under-facia shelf is supplemented by front-door pockets; the apparently big, walnut-lidded cubby-hole, lockable with its own key, is disappointingly shallow when opened. There are, however, pockets on the back of the separate front scats, for back-compartment passengers. Each front seat has its own centre arm-rest. The twin rotary
heater/demister controls are simple but would benefit from arrows indicating direction of rotation. The heater was virtually non-existent because the engine ran extraordinarily cold, its temperature gauge needle close on ” C ” throughout the test.
Steering the Wolseley 6/no has something in common with anticipating the movements of a large liner, its cornering is rather like persuading jelly into a baby’s mouth with an egg-spoon, but its Lockheed brakes, disc at the front, servo applied, are extremely powerful, a fine feature of the car, although rather too insensitive in towns and emitting an undignified squeal. The suspension tends towards liveliness; understeer is pronounced but the handling improves as speed increases—which is not to say that high speed feels safe off the Motorway, for the low-geared steering does not facilitate quick changes of direction.
The test-car had a neat Radiomobile radio. The flick-switches on the deep facia are unidentified but that for the 2-speed wipers is convenient, with screen-wash button above it. The r.h. brakelever is splendidly located. Noise was confined mainly to occasional very faint gear-lever rattle, mild transmission hum on the overrun, some engine noise and a mysterious ” something ” that came in momentarily when accelerating. Indeed, when cruising at moderate speeds the clock can be heard, although I suspect that some humorist has specified a suitably loud tick in order that this Rolls-Royce feature can be enjoyed by Wolseley owners The long gear-lever sometimes bilked at selecting ist gear; at other times it went in but felt as if it hadn’t.
This Pininfarina-styled Wolseley 6/r so is a useful car for moderate drivers and business executives to whom bigness spells impressiveness. It is probably better in automatic form than as tested. In 3-speed form with radio and front safety-belts it costs £1,390 16s. 5d. inclusive of p.t. There is much that should be revised about it but you get plenty of car for your money. Fuel consumption, tested without employing overdrive, and inclusive of driving in London and many cold starts necessitating brief but rather more than average use of the choke, came out at 20.7 m.p.g.; even under these unfavourable circumstances the absolute range was excellent-295 miles; but a pessimistic gauge registered ” empty ” some 5o miles too soon.
The M.G. Magnette Mk. IV is one of five basic Pininfarinastyled models that use the B-series B.M.C. 4-cylinder engine, in single-carburetter form for the Austin A6o, Morris Oxford Series VI and Wolseley r6/6o, and in twin-carburetter form for this M.G. and the Riley 4/72. To recap, the engine in all cases is now of 1,622 c.c., the capacity increase favouring the BorgWarner Model 35 torque converter, with a 4-speed gearbox as the alternative. The engine has been made more durable than ever and the wheelbase and track have been increased to provide more interior accommodation. Road-holding has been improved by adding stabiliser bars front and back in conjunction with softer springing and lower-geared cam-and-lever steering is used. The M.G. has twin HS2 S.U. carburetters and develops 68 b.h.p. at 5,000 r.p.m., an increase of some 8 h.p. over the single