The Motor YEAR BOOK, 1953 BRITISH CARS OF 1952 WOLSELEY FOUR FORTY-FOUR
The Wolseley Four Forty-Four made its first public appearance on the opening day of the Earl's Court Motor Show. Here it made a particular appeal to overseas buyers who were attracted by a combination of modern appearance, well-planned chassis and suspension arrangements and a well-proved engine of 1,1-litre capacity.
Developing some 46 b.h.p. the power unit is indeed a well-tried Nuffield design, with a three-bearing counter-weighted crankshaft and an S.B. ratio of 1.35: 1. Having pushrod-operated overhead valves and a single S. U. carburettor it will readily reach 5,000 r.p.m., but this notwithstanding, produces maximum torque at 2,400 r.p.m., which corresponds to a road speed of some 40 m.p.h. In the 30-60 m.p.h. band of the speed range the car should therefore have good response on top gear, and although the peak of the power curve is reached at 70 m.p.h. the wind resistance should be such as to make it possible to give an all-out maximum which is considerably faster.
Although the engine, and for that matter, gearbox, of the car contain nothing which is new, the body which also forms the main element of the chassis, is wholly novel and contains maNy interesting engineering features as well as having an obviously good appearance.
In this respect it follows existing Nuffield practice, but a number of ingenious ideas have been embodied. The low roof and floor level has made it necessary to accept a propeller shaft tunnel despite the use of hypoid bevel gear in the rear axle, but a virtue has been made of this necessity by using this tunnel as a stressed member so that the car can in some respects be thought of as having a backbone frame built into it. The analogy is not wholly complete, for whereas the deep and stressed tunnel contributes materially to the beam stiffness of the car its value in respect of torsional stiffness is reduced by the opening at the bottom which is necessary to permit angular motion of the propeller shaft. Particular thought has, however, been taken in torsional stiffness in the design of the car, which shows considerable ingenuity.
The flat floor of the car is buttressed by narrow section side-members about 5 in. deep which are welded at the front end to a scuttle which transmits loads into the roof through the screen pillars. Front-end stiffness is further increased by a rectangular box-section member approximately 3½ in. deep and 4 in. wide which runs beneath the sump approximately on the axis of No. 4 cylinder and this, placed only 7 in. ahead of the dash, not only ties together the front end of the car, but also gives direct support for the suspension levers, and a reaction point for the open coil spring and telescopic damper which lies within it.
It will be apparent from the statement made immediately above that the greater part of the power unit lies ahead of the front wheel centres so that the fan pulley is actually about 13½ in. ahead of the centre-line of the wheels. The front of the engine is supported on two tubes of about 2¼-in. diameter which run forward from the scuttle and these in effect are unstressed torsionally.
The front wing and bonnet assembly is given a three-point mounting so that it can be readily detachable. That is to say, the front wings themselves can be removed from the side panels which form the bonnet and the latter in turn can be unbolted from their point of connection to the scuttle and have only a single point attachment at the extreme nose of the car, which can be reached by removing the radiator grille. The merits of this construction from the viewpoint of maintenance and repair are instantly apparent.
The back of the frame is carried above the rear axle and during the course of assembly the screen and door pillars, and the rear quarter panels are, in conjunction with the scuttle, welded on to the floor to form a one-piece unit.
The rear springs are anchored to the narrow-section side members with the rear spring eye slightly higher than the front so as to give an inbuilt understeer characteristic which increases with roll angle.
At the front of the car the two half trackrods are placed ahead of the front wheels and connect with a transversely mounted rack-and-pinion steering gear, there being, therefore, only four ball joints in the entire steering linkage.
The wheels are mounted upon unequal-length wishbones with a long king-pin running between them and the weight of the car is taken by coil springs which, together with the direct-acting dampers are inclined inwards at about 33 deg. The upper wishbone is a conventional construction, and the arrangement of the bottom links is such that there is a single arm reinforced against braking torque by a tube running backwards at an included angle of around 50 deg. and joined to the frame through the medium of a double rubber bush. By this means a wide base is given to the bottom triangle, and the stability of the system is considerably enhanced.
All three pedals are of the pendant type so that the driver pushes down upon them rather than forwards in the now accepted manner.
Although the controls are unconventional the mechanisms to which they are linked show no departure from current practice. That is to say, the clutch is of a single dryplate type, 8 in. in diameter, and the gearbox a four-speed unit having rather widely spaced ratios of 1.5, 2.53, and 3.8 : 1, in relation to the direct top gear. It may, therefore, be assumed that the maximum speed on the indirect ratios will be of the order of 25, 40, and 55 m.p.h., but despite the modern lines of the car, and the evident attention which has been given to roadworthiness, it is not primarily intended as a high-performance model, but rather as a vehicle offering comfort, refinement, and economy in the four-seater class. These aspects are immediately apparent from an inspection of the body fittings and appointments.
The curved windscreen is swept by a pair of cable-controlled wiper blades and provision is made for the fitting of screen washers as a normal optional extra. Behind the screen are two wide slots to provide de-misting or de-frosting air received from a Smiths 3½-kW heater centrally mounted on the engine side of the scuttle. This in turn receives air from a ventilating flap placed immediately ahead of the windscreen.
The instrument panel and switch gear is centrally placed and the British motorist in particular will welcome the provision as standard of a large-diameter clock. The heater control unit is placed immediately below the panel, on each side of which are really large open cubbyholes. These are surmounted by a finely-veneered wooden fillet, similar material being provided for the window cappings. The three-spoke steering wheel has the gear lever immediately beneath it and a corresponding threespoke horn ring immediately above it.
The leading edge of the front windows is taken up by triangulated ventilating panels, and the front seat, although of the now popular bench type is, so to speak, tailored with the specific need of two separate persons upon it, although three can be carried in case of need. The rear seat gives great comfort for two people, armrests being attached to each rear door in addition to a centre rest. The seats are hide-covered Dunlopillo.
The fuel tank is placed immediately behind the bulkhead which seals the rear seat from the luggage compartment, and the latter is, therefore, given an unobstructed floor, the spare wheel being mounted vertically on the left-hand side. The luggage locker lid is hinged at the top and counterbalanced by an ingenious application of torsion bar springing, and it is necessary to open the boot to reach the release catch for the flap which normally covers the fuel pipe.
The car is particularly well equipped with an inbuilt reversing lamp and twin roof lamps as well as a fog light provided as standard equipment. In addition to clock and speedometer, the instruments comprise oil pressure gauge, water thermometer, and fuel tank indicator.