Classic Car Catalogue

Wolseley 1931

16/60 Viper – new model
21/60 Six  
21/60 Straight Eight – discontinued

Great Britain

October '31 advert.


    6 cyl. ohc
1271 cc
45 bhp


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 1931 Swallow Special
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 Hornet 1931 Mc Evoy Special
Motor Sport July 1931

WHEN the Wolseley "Hornet" was first introduced it was not anticipated that it would enter the sports car category. The fact, however, that its little six-cylinder engine has an abundance of "pep" as well as smoothness and flexibility of running, makes the chassis quite suitable for adaptation for sporting purposes, and consequently several firms are now producing specially altered and prepared "Hornets" which both in appearance and performance are very attractive to the sporting motorist.
One of these is the McEvoy Special which is here illustrated. As can be seen, it has very neat and pleasing lines, the designer having been careful to keep the whole car in good proportion; there is no ugly, excessive overhang at the tail, while the sweep of the wings blends well with the general lines found elsewhere in the body. At the same time, attention has been given to the seating and leg-room so as to provide ample comfort for both driver and passenger. Neither has accessibility been sacrificed for good looks.
The performance. according to the maker's statement, is in keeping with the car's sporting looks, for it is claimed that the maximum speed on top is 75-80 m.p.h., while 55 m.p.h. in second is obtainable without difficulty. These speeds are made possible by special tuning and alterations to the power unit, which include the fitting of an Amal downdraught racing carburettor, raised compression and heavy valve springs. Other alterations from standard include oversize tyres, 8-gallon petrol tank, outside handbrake, adjustable steering column, 100 m.p.h. speedometer and revolution counter. The price of the McEvoy Special is £240, and the maker's address is :-M. A. McEvoy, Leaper Street, Derby.
Motor Sport August 1931
Motor Sport August 1931
Some Wolseley "Hornet" Specials

WHEN the now ubiquitous Wolseley "Hornet" was introduced to the public, it was a sober touring vehicle with a closed body, and it seems that little thought of a sports performance entered the minds of its makers. However, performance tells, whatever the guise of the vehicle, and it soon became evident that the new model had a very remarkable turn of speed, and especially good acceleration.
It is, in fact, yet another proof that the lessons learnt in racing apply themselves to ordinary motoring, and the very specification of the " Hornet " savours of speed.
The six-cylinder overhead camshaft engine has a bore and stroke of 57 mm. by 83 mm., giving a total capacity of 1261 c.c. The camshaft is driven by bevel gears, and the crankshaft supported in four bearings. The gearbox has three forward ratios, and is operated by a central lever.
Hydraulic brakes on the Lockheed principle operate on all wheels.
The E.W. International Sports "Hornet."
The engine, although roughly classed as a "small six," is by no means small for the very compact and light chassis in which it is installed, and it only needs a short run in one of these cars to see that the old secret of a high power-to-weight ratio has scored another success, and that here, in spite of its purpose and calling, was an embryo sports car.
Various firms have taken advantage of the latent possibilities of this chassis from the sporting motorist's standpoint, and the result has been a most attractive range of special sports Wolseley "Hornets".
These have been produced to fulfil a variety of requirements in the way of accommodation and appearance.
* * *
Eustace Watkins, Ltd., of 12, Berkeley Street, W.1, who are the London distributors for Wolseley cars, produce a useful range of models to satisfy both the open car enthusiast and also the man who wants a closed model with sporting lines. Probably the most popular of these is the E. W. International Sports type, " Hornet " de luxe, which is fitted with a very luxurious and useful body with ample luggage space in the rear seats, which are also perfectly comfortable when used for the comparatvely unusual purpose—for a sports car—of carrying extra passengers. This model, with Magna wheels and oversize tyres, sells for £245, while the closed car man is catered for by the E.W. Occasional 4-seater Sports Coupe, which sells at £225.
The Patrick Special which is priced at £225.
* * *
The model produced by Patrick Motors Ltd., of 479-481, Bristol Road, Boumbrook, Birmingham, is another example of the short four-seater, constructed on an ash frame. The panelling is in 18 gauge aluminium, and the shell is complete without mouldings. Special doors, giving ample room, are hung on strong chromium plated hinges. The front seats are of the separate bucket type, and real hide is used for all upholstery. The rear seat is unusually roomy, and two extra passengers can be carried in comfort on long runs when required.
A smart fourstick hood is provided and a tonneau cover is also included. The spare wheel is carried on a bracket at the rear of the body. Ample tool accommodation and accessibility of batteries and other chassis features are good points which show that details have been carefully studied. Other points are the aprons over the front dumb irons, special exhaust system and Bluemel spring-spoke steering wheel. This firm also make a speciality of tuning and overhaul jobs for competition enthusiasts, and have a very well equipped workshop to attend to the mechanical as well as the bodywork department. The price is £225.
* * *
The Swallow Coach-building Co., of Poleshill, Coventry, have long been noted for the elegance of their productions, and their version of the Wolseley Hornet is one of the prettiest models they have produced.
It is a very neat streamlined 2-seater with a disappearing whipcord hood, which is easily erected and gives full protection. Although the lines of the body might appear to give little room for luggage, there is actually a very capacious locker in the tail which will easily take a large suitcase. Equipment includes a radiator stone guard and bumpers. The price is £220.
* * *
The Arrow 2-seater Coupé "Hornet."
The Arrow coachwork, manufactured by A. P. Compton & Co., Ltd., Boston Road, Hanwell, London, W.7, is already well known among sports car drivers on various makes, and they have supplied many international racing bodies for the big events of recent seasons. Their Wolseley Hornet range consists of a four-seater sports and a very pretty sports coupe.
The four-seater is a development of Mr. Compton's design of some seven years ago, when he introduced one of the forerunners of this now very popular type. Being used to supplying racing bodies, this firm is well aware of the strength required in sports car body, and the latest design embodies the result of their great experience.
Adjustable bucket seats with a 9" travel are fitted with pneumatic cushions, and the equipment includes competition type folding windscreen, lengthened steering column with Bluemel spring spoked steering wheel, leather upholstery, etc.
The price is £210.
The coupe has very nice lines, and ample locker accommodation for luggage, also a 3ft. wide tray above the squab which is very useful for smaller articles. It costs £225.
* * *
An attractive range of models is produced by the Hoyal Body Corporation, whose bodies have achieved great popularity on many other makes. There is a very neat semi-streamlined 2-seater, the chief characteristic of which is the generous width of body which will accommodate 3 people in the front seat if required. An unusual feature for a 2-seater of this type is the fact that the seat is adjustable both as to position and also to the angle of the back. A very roomy locker is fitted in the boot, which can if necessary be supplied as a dickey seat. This model sells at £195.
A neat 4-seater produced by the Hogal Body Corporation.
Another model is a sports 4-seater with folding screen, adjustable seats, etc., which has good leg room in the rear seats and sound all-weather equipment. A 4-door saloon is also included in the range at £245 with Pytchley sliding roof, the open 4-seater being £215.
* * *
The special model Hornet produced by M. A. McEvoy, of Leaper St.,. Derby, is a more completely special affair than the majority of such productions, as in this case the chassis is definitely modified to give a performance suitable for the more hotly contested competitions, as the engine is hotted up to approach racing performance.
The chassis are dealt with in the way any enthusiast would employ in preparing for a race, and are taken down and reassembled with the greatest care to ensure perfect mechanical freedom.
The engine has a raised compression and special valve rockers and other details. A special exhaust and inlet manifold is employed enabling the use of a down-draught Amal carburettor. Twin exhaust pipes are taken from the manifold.
The result is a very definite increase in power and speed, and on a short run we had recently on one of these cars, 6,000 r.p.m. was easily reached in second gear, giving a speed of over 50 m.p.h. The maximum on top is a genuine 75 m.p.h. on the level, and more under favourable circumstances.
A special clutch spring is fitted to cope with the increased power, and remove possibility of slip under arduous driving conditions. A seven gallon scuttle tank is fitted, and the feed is positively arranged by means of an electrically operated Petrolift pump.
The body is a strongly built and neat 2-seater, with the spare wheel mounted in the tail. Other details include a disappearing hood and an outside handbrake. The price of this model is £240.
The Swallow 2-seater.
* * *
A very attractive model of the popular short four-seater type is that produced by the well known firm of Abbey Coachworks Ltd. This has very attractive lines, and various interesting features of construction. The body is built on a strong but very light ash frame, and the panelling consists of a single welded aluminium shell, finished in any colour cellulose to choice. The result is a very rigid body which remains unaffected by rough usage. Pneumatic upholstery covered in hide and very wide doors make for comfort and convenience.
The steering is raked more than standard, the column is lengthened, and a spring wheel is fitted.
The windscreen is the racing type and folds flat on the scuttle when required. A neat hood and efficient side curtains look after the occupants in wet weather. In the normal model the tools are carried in a felt lined dummy petrol tank, but if required, a rear 12-gallon petrol tank, with autopulse feed and pipe lines, and an extra large filler cap, can be fitted for an extra charge of £15. The maker's address is High Path, Morden Road, Merton, S.W.19.
In addition to the special bodies available on the Hornet chassis, there is a demand for special fittings to improve the actual performance of the engine, especially if trials or racing are being considered. This demand is very fully understood and filled by that active enthusiast, V. W. Derrington, who has a good range of special parts. One of the most successful of these is a special twin carburettor set and manifold with balanced induction pipe. The whole layout is carefully designed for maximum power, and carries a high internal polish. The unit includes two 26 ram. SAIA carburettors, manifold, flexible throttle connections, double petrol piping and unions, also set of engine studs and nuts, and costs £12 10s. Other useful fittings are a 9-gallon rear petrol tank with quickfiller and S.U. Petrolift pump, which is an indispensable fitting for the long distance driver. Special exhaust systems, Brooklands regulation silencers, and double valve spring sets are also supplied by this firm, whose address is 159, London Road, Kingston-on-Thames.

Hornet. October '31.

Wolseley Hornet Daytona

October '31
Motor Sport October 1931
Wolseley 1931 Hornet Arrow
Motor Sport October 1931
Motor Sport November 1931

FEW popular-priced cars have gained so much popularity in so short a space of time as the Wolseley "Hornet," and while its manufacturers introduced it primarily as a touring vehicle its liveliness and road-holding qualities have led a number of enterprising body-builders and firms specialising in high-efficiency tuning, to use the "Hornet" chassis as a basis in the production of special sports models.
Now, with the incorporation of a number of refinements and improvements which are to be found in the standard 1932 "Hornet" (which include a four-speed gearbox with silent third) these specials will appeal even more to the sporting motorist.
Three-quarter view of the Jensen "Hornet."
A particularly attractive "Hornet" model is that turned out by Jensen Motors of High Street, West Bromwich. Well-proportioned and clean in outline, the body is extremely well made and panelled throughout with aluminium. A road-racing single-piece windscreen, which may be folded down on the scuttle if required, and a tandem electric wiper is part of the standard equipment. The driving position is excellent, and comfort and convenience is added to by the fact that Messrs. Jensen Motors have increased the rake of the steering column and fitted a Bluemel spring-spoked steering wheel. The arangement of the exhaust system has been modified to give a pleasing but subdued note, and the whole car is a very dapper little job. Normally the Jensen "Hornet" will be marketed with a standard engine at about £220, but when required, a super-tuned power unit will be obtainable at slightly increased charge. In the latter case, the special boosting work wil be carried out by M. A. McEvoy.
Another "Hornet" Special which attracted a great deal of attention at Olympia last month was the Arrow 2-4 seater sports type which was exhibited on the stand of A. P. Compton and Co., Ltd. This firm, whose address is, Arrow Coachworks, Boston Road, Haswell, W.7., have been engaged for several years in the design and building of racing bodies, and the experience they have thus acquired has been utilised in the manufacture of their standard production jobs. In addition to their "Hornet" model (which is priced at £232 10s.), Messrs. Compton also turn out special forms of Austin Sevens, Morris Minors, and Standards.




Wolseley Viper 1931




Wolseley 1931 21/60 County Saloon
21/60 County Saloon
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).