Classic Driver Marktplatz
|Wolseley 12/16hp Tourer|
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|This attractive Edwardian two-seater presents as a well-restored original car, and it is one that has been known to the Veteran Car Club of GB for a period in excess of 50 years. During this time, the list of the owners of this Wolseley includes several prominent veteran car enthusiasts. The history file that comes with the car records that it was supplied new by G H Dumbleton of Peldon, Colchester, to its first owner, Oliver Saunders of 105, Bromham Road, Bedford. The coachwork is said to be the work of Mitchells, also of Bedford, and is notable as being both singularly well-equipped and also typical of 1912 styling; in fact it is very similar to catalogue illustrations of Wolseley factory coachwork. Understandably said to have been laid up 'for the duration' from 1914 to 1918, it then was in regular use until its owner gave up motoring in 1927. This car's remarkable originality leads one to speculate that thereafter it lay dormant until passing into the hands of enthusiasts on the explosion of interest in elderly motor cars of this kind in the 1950s. |
In the pre-Great War era, the Wolseley Tool & Machinery Co Ltd, a subsidiary company of Vickers, the armaments giant, was one of Britain's leading motor manufacturers, the firm concentrating upon quality chassis in the medium and large ranges of size. The 12/16hp was listed for 1912 only, when a two-seater bodied like this example was priced at £440 'complete'. Many larger cars could be bought for a much lower figure at that time; for instance, an imported 20-25hp Overland touring car cost only £235 - indicative of Wolseley's standards of engineering and finish.
In most respects conventional in layout, one less common feature was the worm drive rear axle - as with the Lanchester of the day, the driving worm runs below its wheel. The separate gearbox has a right hand change lever working in a gate, and offering three forward speeds and reverse. The steering column is well-raked, and - always a feature of a quality chassis - there is a full-height cast aluminium firewall separating the engine compartment from the cockpit. The handbrake activates expanding shoes within the rear drums and the transmission brake is pedal operated. The detachable wire wheels carry 815 x 105 beaded-edge tyres, and the special spanner for removing the wheels is with the car. The spare wheel is bracketed to the offside of the body and to that running board. Screw-down grease cups lubricate the shackle pins and all other moving chassis joints.
Neat and advanced for its day, the four-cylinder 79 x 121mm (2373cc) engine is a monobloc casting, with integral cylinder head, and additionally the exhaust manifold and inlet passages are cored within this same casting. Dual ignition is provided by a Bosch ZU4 high tension magneto plus a Bosch coil, and the side-by-side valves are kept dust free and oil-mist lubricated behind two separate cast aluminium covers. Circulation of coolant is by thermosiphon. Brass compression taps permit a little extra fuel to be admitted to the cylinders, if necessary, to assist cold starting. The carburettor is as originally specified - an early version of the famous SU 'Sloper'.
Body and fittings
Front seat occupants travel in considerable luxury and enjoy protection from the elements, whilst passengers riding in the folding dickey seat at the rear, although that is more sumptuously upholstered than most of its kind, are exposed. Sprung catches automatically lock the dickey's backrest in the open position, and, when closed, budget locks keep a small amount of luggage or tools secure. The single door on the nearside (that on the offside being a dummy) is released by a 'push down' catch. Unusually, the fuel tank is located behind the driver's seat backrest, the filler, on the nearside, exposed by lifting the hood. There is a single panel windscreen. The nearside running board carries an original 2-gallon 'Shell' petrol can in its holder, and an aluminium-framed coconut mat.
The finish of the brightwork throughout is nickel plate, always calling for an extra charge when quoted in the period catalogue specifications, and, inside and out, this sets the car apart from many of its kind. The period electric headlights carry no obvious maker's name, but the paraffin-fired side- and rear-lamps are of the rare pattern which doubles up by incorporating both electric bulbs and the wick burners for oil. Both the sidelamps (Lucas 'Burbury') and the rear ones (Lucas No 631 and 632) are handed pairs - and in fine condition. Cockpit instrumentation is generous. A sight gauge reveals when engine lubrication is active, and the electrical system and lighting set is controlled by a CAV type 6C cast aluminium switchboard that includes both an ammeter and a voltmeter. An electric starter has been discreetly added. There is a Stewart 0 - 60 speedometer of the type driven by a flat belt from the propeller shaft; a clock, and a period dash lamp - all this below a full width, curved and ledged wooden shelf to accommodate gloves, maps and oddments. The floor is neatly and appropriately covered with reeded aluminium sheet.
Described as, 'such a quiet and efficient runner' in one period press report, the 12/16hp Wolseley offered refinement yet compactness, and was a sensible and notably well made chassis. This pretty example surely would amply fulfil the needs of the present-day enthusiast who seeks a correct and practical, medium-sized later Edwardian car - and one of outstanding quality.
Ref - 'The Automobile', January 1985 pages 32 -36: a feature article, 'On the Road with a Wolseley 12/16', describes this actual car.
Sold on the 31.01.2013