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The Wolseley was the premium vehicle that perched proudly at the top of the range, and although few people knew about it at the time of its introduction in 1975, it would be the last car to carry the illuminated logo, lasting for only six months.

The Wolseley was only available with the 2227 cc six-cylinder engine imported from the Wolseley ‘Landcrab’ Six (Austin and Morrises also had four cylinders). The iconic Wolseley grille and illuminated badge were reduced to the front due to the car’s unusual design, which left little room for anything larger. The interior was as opulent as it had always been (although velor had replaced leather), and the smoothness was exceptional.

It was very technically intriguing classic car, with transverse front-wheel drive – rare for a six-cylinder in line – and Hydragas suspension. The Austin, Morris and Wolseley models were rebranded as the unbranded Princess instead, the Wolseley being replaced by the 2200HLS, due to British Leyland’s reorganization in 1975.

Related: Forgotten Classic Cars: The Wolseley Six Was BMC’s Most Comfortable Car

A glimpse of a forgotten classic: the Wolseley Six

“Having the right course gives Wolseley elegance.” At first glance, this seems like a prime example of 1972-era automotive elitism, aimed at the type of driver who thought crazy paving was the pinnacle of architectural success. Nonetheless, the Six, the current flagship of BL’s “Landcrab” series, was a truly magnificent machine.

The first Austin 1800 was introduced in 1964, but despite being named Car of the Year in 1965, it was consistently misunderstood by the British public. In 1966, BMC presented a Morris version, and in 1967, the top of the range Wolseley 18/85. The following year a Mk. II was released, followed by a Mk. III in March 1972. The availability of a 2.2 liter E-series engine, originally used in the Austin Kimberley/Tasman built Australian 1970, was big news for the third generation Landcrab. The Wolseley was only available with a 2227cc engine, and the Six was a late replacement for the 18/85 and RWD Austin 3-litre. It was also Wolseley’s first six-cylinder since production of the 6/110 Mk.II ceased in 1968.


The “bus driver” steering wheel made it clear that the Six was Mini-related, but the overall impression was dignified enough for the manager’s parking lot. “Wolseley Six says exactly what you want it to say about your business,” Leyland said. “You would trust the man behind the wheel as much as the car itself,” adds Leyland. The enlarged engine, according to Car of April 1972, improved the “fundamental qualities of the Landcrab, although additional power could be harnessed to initiate understeer”. The Six” took me as quickly, as pleasantly and as safely on a normal non-stop long run as any car of its price I’ve come across recently, and it’s gloriously individualistic, in a world of more and more similar sedans,” according to Motorsport’s Bill Boddy.


Compared to its rivals, the Six seemed to be significantly more eccentric than the Rover 2000 or Triumph 2000 Mk II, was much less showy than a Vauxhall VX 4/90 FE and was much more discreet than a Ford Granada 2500 Mk. I. The Triumph 1500 was another BL FWD saloon, but it was much smaller than the Wolseley, so a possible buyer would have looked at the Renault 16TS or perhaps the Citroën DS Super 5 from abroad. Neither, however, provided that unique blend of Wolseley opulence and Alec Issigonis engineering.

The Six was, unsurprisingly, the top-selling model of the Mk. Range III until 1975 when it was replaced by the 18-22 “Wedge”. It’s too easy to point fingers at the British Motor Corporation after the fact, but the Landcrab had so much potential. Perhaps more buyers would have appreciated its many and varied qualities if it had been sold from the start as a Wolseley with a six-cylinder engine – and power steering. The Wolseley Six is ​​a reminder of pure automotive independence in the 1970s as it is. It was a car for the type of person who proudly admitted watching BBC2. Not to mention transport for the discerning individual who appreciates “the only car in the world with its name in lights”.


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Powertrain: A drift from the 18/85 to the engineering masterpiece Wolseley Six

The Wolseley Six, along with the Austin and Morris 2200, were introduced in 1972. The Wolseley replaced the 18/85 four-cylinder model, unlike the Austin/Morris vehicles, which continued alongside the older 1800 versions. With twin SU carburettors, the Wolseley Six used a six-cylinder version of the existing E-Series 1500cc OHC engine, first seen in the Austin Maxi, to produce 2227cc and 110 BHP.

It also had a four-speed manual or automatic transmission. The majority of changes from the 18/85 were cosmetic, such as seat materials and the removal of wooden door tops. The model was produced until 1975 when the Wolseley 18-22 ‘Wedge’ was introduced.

The cabin space and the level of decoration of the Wolseley were two important selling factors – for a car shorter than a Renault 12, the space of the Wolseley was rather astonishing. The front compartment was made even more spacious by selecting the optional automatic transmission with its dash-mounted selector lever. The Six’s showroom appeal was further enhanced by a walnut wood dashboard.

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