Road Impressions of a Six-Cylinder Disc-Braked Luxury Car with a Famous Name
The Wolseley 6/99 has a famous name illuminated on the radiator grille after dark, extending back to the birth pangs of the British Motor Industry. This 3-litre 112-b.h.p. saloon is a combination of modernity and a gentleman’s motor carriage in the old style. It is capable of exceeding 100 mph under favourable conditions, of covering a s.s. 1/4-mile in less than 20 1/2 sec., and reaching 5O m.p.h. from rest with the rapidity of a pre-war sports car, such is the power of its twin-carburetter six-cylinder engine. It has Farina styling, whereby visibility even when reversing is good and the external appearance pugnaciously attractive, if a little obese. And it has Lockheed disc brakes on its front wheels. But, within, it is akin to a travelling clubroom, for the driver sits upright in a chair with his legs falling directly onto the pedals instead of as though he is stretched out on the floor, and he is surrounded by discreet woodwork, soft leather and good carpets—the kind of car you climb up into before relaxing in old-world comfort, It is good that such motor cars are still manufactured.
The Wolseley 6/99 is a simplified version of the true luxury car, which enables it to be bought for the modest outlay of less than £1,255 while sacrificing few of the essential qualities that constitute dignified motoring for the elderly.
For example. in lieu of the traditional right-hand gear-lever there is rather harsh, but decisive, selection of only three forward speeds by means of’ a rigid steering-column lever controlled by the left hand. The three-speed gearbox is supplemented by Borg Warner overdrive operating on all three ratios, so no-one can complain of meanness in the quantity of forward speeds provided ! They may, however, like the writer, prefer selection of these overdrives by flick-switch instead of by a toggle under the centre of the dashboard, supplemented by semi-automatic selection contrived by kicking down heavily on the accelerator beyond full. throttle position.
The Wolseley also discloses its competitive price in a number of not-too-well contrived details. For instance, the five good tumbler switches spaced about the expanse of woodden facia are unlabelled— they select a quiet heater fan, instrument lighting, spotlamps, main lamps and the two-speed wipers. In fairness, it must be said that the two last-named are conveniently placed to the driver’s right hand. But the spotlamps, contrived to come on singly or together, are in-built and thus not easily adjustable for fog, while they do not go out automatically when the headlamps are dipped, making them inconvenient, even illegal. The direction flashers are selected easily by a control on the steering-wheel centre but a finger-tip projecting too far on this control would be neatly chopped off by the half-hornring as the steering wheel is turned ! Instrumentation consists of a 120-m.p.h. speedometer with big figures crowded onto its dial (it also contains total and trip with decimal milometers) and a matching dial of the cheaper kind, incorporating water thermometer, ammeter, petrol gauge and oil pressure, but very effective nevertheless. The right-hand hand-brake lies well clear of the driver’s door and does not snag your trousers turn-tips, like that on a certain other ” Big Five ” product.
Two other disappointments confront the purchaser of the big Wolseley—although a cubby-hole with big lockable wooden lid is provided, it is far too shallow, and although there is a divided under-facia shelf, this, also, is too shallow and is lined with what looks suspiciously like underseal. Another, but minor, point on the debit side is that the door handles push forward to open the doors, which could be dangerous and contrasts oddly with generous trash-padding above and below the facia. The screen pillars obstruct vision.
On the credit side, there is heating/demisting controlled by two clearly-marked knobs on the facia—although as the engine never got really warm little heat was produced—and inconspicuous drawer-type ash-trays, a cigar-lighter, map-pockets in the back of the bench front seat, openable quarter-windows front and back, folding centre arm-rests for both seats of this truly spacious car, side arm-rests at the rear, and two good interior lamps, although these have courtesy action front the front doors only
The Wolseley has somewhat spongy, heavy steering (over four turns, lock-to-lock) and one feels no desire to drive it fast on wet roads. Better to roll restfully along, the engine idling at a mere 2,000 r.p.m. at 55 m.p.h. in overdrive top. It is fairly quiet, the disc front and pressure controlled rear brakes give great confidenee when stopping this 1 1/2-ton car in emergencies, at the expense of initial squeal, and there is a splendid reserve of effortless acceleration available. Petrol consumption varies front 16 to 19 m.p.g. and a tankful lasts some 270 miles. This luxury car at a low price goes well with bowler hats and rolled umbrellas.—W. B.