THE Wolseley " Hornet " cannot, of course, be placed in the sports car category. It was never intended to be, but although it is a de luxe touring vehicle in miniature, priced at a popular figure, nevertheless it has certain characteristics which appeal to the hundred-per-cent sporting motorist. Soon after it was placed on the market it became known that the "Hornet" was a little car with a performance sufficiently striking to confound those critics who, for have maintained that the small six-cylinder engine was not a sound proposition.
Recently we had the loan of one of these cars, and while we did not put it through our usual road test, we had plenty of opportunity, during the time it was in our hands, to try its capabilities, and weigh up its worth.
First, let us deal with the engine. This is rated at 12.08 h.p. and has a bore and stroke of 57 m.m. x 83 m.m. The valves are operated by an overhead camshaft, the carburetter is an S.U., and the ignition system is of the coil-and-battery type.
What strikes one most about this unit is its combination of smoothness and snappiness although, at low r.p.m. it is sweet and free from any "lumpiness," there is no wooliness about it. It is possible to rip open the throttle and get an instant response right away. Moreover, this quality is noticeable throughout its speed range, and whatever rate one may be travelling at—whether it be 30, 40, 50 or its maximum of about 65 m.p.h.—the engine's smooth power output is constant. In other words, there is no period. The clutch and gearbox are built integral with the engine, the former being of the single-plate fabric-lined type. This we found slightly harsh in engagement; possibly this was merely due to the fact that the car was very nearly new, and the withdrawal mechanism somewhat stiff.
The three-speed gear-box has a central ball change, and was quite easy to operate, both up and down.
Steering is of the worm and wheel type, and possesses just the right degree of lightness to make the car pleasant to handle, and comfortable to control at all speeds.
The four-wheel brakes are on the Lockheed hydraulic principle, and we found them exceptionally powerful, yet smooth in action. As to riding ease, we were genuinely surprised that so small a vehicle could be so comfortable. Yet at high speeds, over none too good a road surface, there was no disconcerting bouncing, and wandering. The springs all round are semi-elliptic, and hydraulic shock-absorbers are fitted as standard.
The price of the "Hornet "with a fabric saloon body is £175, and with a coachbuilt saloon body £185. The equipment includes Triplex glass throughout, thermostatic radiator shutters, calormeter on the radiator, bumpers, driving mirror, screen wiper, speedometer and chromium finish.
With this, its good performance, its comfort, and economical running, it is definitely a remarkable car.
Motor Sport, September 1930