IN their choice of the Wolseley Hornet as the basis of the sports model which we have just had an opportunity of trying out, Messrs. Boyd-Carpenter have once more shown their good knowledge of the requirements of this type of vehicle. Since its introduction the standard edition of this car has been noted for great snappiness, the reason being chiefly the high power weight ratio, and the use of a six cylinder engine which gives a degree of flexibility hardly associated with a small sports car.
Having a wheelbase of only 7 feet 6½ inches and a track of only 3 feet 6 inches, it has been possible to keep the weight down to the figure of 10½ cwt. for the bare chassis, which means that when fitted with the very sturdy but lightly constructed sports body, its weight is still nothing to cause any overloading of the engine. The latter follows modern practice in having the six cylinders cast integral with the upper half of the crank case, an arrangement which does much to ensure the absolute rigidity for the main bearings, so essential in a high speed engine. The overhead valves are operated by an overhead camshaft which is driven by spiral bevel gears from the front end of the crankshaft. An unusual feature of the design is the fact that the dynamo is mounted vertically, and its armature forms part of the vertical shaft which drives the camshaft. This arrangement, although unusual, appears to give excellent results in practice.
The sports models produced by Messrs. Boyd-Carpenter have been modified in engine details, in just those points which the amateur cannot expet to deal with successfully. The ports have been opened up, streamlined, and polished, and in conjunction with the improved carburetter setting made possible by improvements in the induction system, give a very evident increase of power. The bore and stroke is 57 mm. and 83 mm. respectively, giving a total capacity of 1,271 c.c. and an annual tax of £12.
As the greatest charm of a sports car lies less in its actual speed than in its handling qualities at that speed, it would have been of little value to work on the engine alone. Chassis modifications include modified and slightly stiffened springing, and an increased rake on the steering, while actual experience on the road shows that the body has been designed with a sharp eye on the question of correct weight distribution.
Previous experience of "specials" by this firm has shown us that they realise the great importance, in even the smallest sports car, of ample luggage accommodation. In this body the tail incorporates a very neat single seater dickey, which has the additional advantage of not preventing the carrying of long or bulky articles if the extra passenger room is not required.
The driving position gives ample room for even the tallest owner, and the pneumatic upholstery ensures comfort on a long run. The controls are well placed, and the hand brake is in a particularly convenient position, a thing which we are afraid cannot be said of all modern cars.
When we come to the performance of the B.-C. Hornet on the road the points which stand out are the acceleration and hill-climbing. From 10-30 m.p.h. on second gear takes 5 seconds, a figure which can always be repeated without any wangling of pedals, while 45 m.p.h. is soon reached on the same gear. Naturally the performance would be even better with a four-speed gearbox, but such an addition would be hardly in the sphere of practical politics when the remarkably low price of the car is considered. Comparison with cars of similar capacity goes to show that such is not actually necessary in this case.
The brakes, operated by the Lockheed hydraulic system, give the truly remarkable stopping distance of 46 feet from a speed of 40 m.p.h.
The steering is, of course, apart from the rake of the column, similar in behaviour to the standard Hornet. We would have preferred a slightly larger wheel, preferably one of Bluemel spring wheels which are now fitted to so many sports cars, but this is a matter to be adjusted to the taste of any particular owner.
The maximum speed is approximately 75 m.p.h., but the most useful characteristic is the ability to attain 70 m.p.h. quickly, speeds above this being reserved for more favourable circumstances. Therefore, in speaking of this model as a 70 m.p.h. car it must not be thought that this is its utmost performance. Rather it is the performance that can be easily produced at any time under none too favourable conditions, and this is a very different matter from the speed which a falling gradient and following wind may produce on rare and unrepeatable occasions.
From this account of its performance it may be gathered that here is a modern sports car, in which great liveliness, easy and steady handling, economy of price and upkeep, have combined to make it eminently suitable for modern conditions of traffic, and—what is equally important to many of us—for present conditions of our pocket.
Motor Sport, February 1931
Wolseley Hornet six-cylinder 7 ft 6 ½ in wheelbase chassis with Swallow two-seater coachwork.
Wolseley Hornet by Swallow.
Hornet by Patrick Motors.
Wolseley 21/60 cars are available with six-cylinder 2677-cc (75 x 101 mm) or eight-cylinder 2700-cc (65 x 101 mm) engine, both with overhead camshaft and rated at 20.93 and 21.01 HP respectively. Model F7D 21/60 County Saloon has 9 ft 6 in wheelbase and 5.50-18 tyres. The price is £445 (Chassis £295).