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Wolseley Motors Limited was a British motor vehicle manufacturer founded in early 1901 by the Vickers armaments combine.

It initially made a full range topped by large luxury cars and dominated the market in the Edwardian era. In 1921 it manufactured 12,000 cars and still continued to be the biggest motor manufacturer in Britain.

Following receivership in 1927 it was bought from Vickers by William Morris as a personal investment and years later moved into his Morris Motors empire.

After the Second World War its products were "badge-engineered" and it went with its sister businesses into BMC, BMH and British Leyland where its name lapsed in 1975.

The Wolseley Tool and Motor Car Company of Adderley Park Birmingham was incorporated in March 1901 with a capital of £40,000 by Vickers, Sons and Maxim to manufacture motor cars and machine tools.

The Managing Director was Herbert Austin.

The cars and the Wolseley name came from Austin's exploratory venture for The Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Company Limited run since the early 1890s by the now 33-year-old Austin.

Austin had been searching for other products for WSSMC because sale of sheep shearing machinery was a highly seasonal trade. About 1895–96 he became interested in engines and automobiles.

During the winter of 1895–96 working in his own time at nights and weekends he made his own version of a design by Léon Bollée that he had seen in Paris. Later he found that another British group had bought the rights and he had to come up with a design of his own having persuaded the directors of WSSMC to invest in the necessary machinery..

In 1897 Austin's second Wolseley car, the Wolseley Autocar No. 1 was revealed. It was a three-wheeled design one front, two rear featuring independent rear suspension, mid-engine and back to back seating for two adults.

It was not successful and although advertised for sale, none were sold.The third Wolseley car, the four-wheeled Wolseley "Voiturette" followed in 1899. A further four-wheeled car was made in 1900.

Thomas and Albert Vickers, directors of Vickers and Maxim Britain's largest armaments manufacturer had much earlier decided to enter the industry at the right moment and impressed by Austin's achievements at WSSMC they took on his enterprise.

When Austin's five-year contract ended in 1906 they had made more than 1,500 cars, Wolseley was the largest British motor manufacturer and Austin's reputation was made

The Wolseley range from 1901 to 1905.
Engines were horizontal which kept the centre of gravity low. Cylinders were cast individually and arranged either singly, in a pair or in two pairs which were horizontally opposed

The crankshaft lay across the car allowing a simple belt or chain-drive to the rear axle:

Vickers replaced Austin by promoting Wolseley's London sales manager, John Davenport Siddeley to general manager. Vickers had earlier built for him some of his Siddeley cars at their Crayford Kent factory. During 1905 they purchased the goodwill and patent rights of his Siddeley car. Siddeley promptly replaced Austin's horizontal engines with the now conventional upright engines.

Under Siddeley Wolseley maintained the sales lead left to him by Austin but, now run from London not Austin's base Birmingham the whole business now failed to cover overheads. The board closed the Crayford Kent works, dropping production of taxicabs and commercial vehicles and moved the whole operation back to Birmingham. After some heated discussions Siddeley resigned in the spring of 1909 and was to go on to manage the Deasy Motor Company

By 1913 Wolseley was Britain's largest car manufacturer selling 3,000 cars.

The company officially became Wolseley Motors Limited in 1914. It also began operations in Montreal and Toronto as Wolseley Motors Limited. This became British and American Motors after the First World War.

In 1918, Wolseley began a joint venture in Tokyo, with Ishikawajiama Ship Building and Engineering. The first Japanese-built Wolseley car rolled off the line in 1922. After World War II the Japan venture is reorganized, renaming itself Isuzu Motors in 1949.

Wolseley was purchased personally by William Morris, later Viscount Nuffield for £730,000 in February 1927 using his own money. Other bidders included General Motors and the Austin Motor Company.

Morris incorporated a new company, Wolseley Motors 1927 Limited, later permitted to remove the 1927, and consolidated its production at the sprawling Ward End Works in Birmingham.

Morris transferred Wolseley to his Morris Motors LImited in 1935 and Wolseley models soon became based on Morris designs. It joined Morris, MG and later Riley/Autovia in what was later promoted as the Nuffield Organisation.

Following the merger between Austin and Morris that created the British Motor Corporation (BMC), Wolseleys shared with MG and Riley common bodies and chassis, namely the 4/44 (later 15/50) and 6/90, which were closely related to the MG Magnette ZA/ZB and the Riley Pathfinder/Two-point-Six respectively.

In 1957 the Wolseley 1500 was based on the planned successor to the Morris Minor, sharing a bodyshell with the Riley One-Point-Five. The next year, the Wolseley 15/60 debuted the new mid-sized BMC saloon design penned by Pinin Farina. It was followed by similar vehicles from five marques within the year.

The Wolseley Hornet was based on the Austin and Morris Mini with a booted body style which was shared with Riley as the Elf. The 1500 was replaced with the Wolseley 1100 BMC ADO16 in 1965, which became the Wolseley 1300 two years later. Finally, a version of the Austin 1800 was launched in 1967 as the Wolseley 18/85.

After the merger of BMC and Leyland to form British Leyland in 1969 the Riley marque, long overlapping with Wolseley, was retired. Wolseley continued in diminished form with the Wolseley Six of 1972, a variant of the Austin 2200, a six-cylinder version of the Austin 1800.

It was finally killed off just three years later in favour of the Wolseley variant of the wedge-shaped 18–22 series saloon, which was never even given an individual model name, being badged just "Wolseley", and sold only for seven months until that range was renamed as the Princess. This change thus spelled the end of the Wolseley marque after 74 years.

List of 1920s and 1930s Wolseley vehicles


1920–1924 Wolseley 10
1920–1927 Wolseley 15
1934–1935 Wolseley Nine
1935–1936 Wolseley Wasp
1936–1937 Wolseley 10/40
1936–1939 Wolseley 12/48
1939-1939 Wolseley Ten
1920–1924 Wolseley 20

1930–1936 Wolseley Hornet OHC
1927–1932 Wolseley Viper (car)
1928–1930 Wolseley 12/32
1930–1935 Wolseley 21/60
1933–1935 Wolseley Sixteen
1935–1936 Wolseley Fourteen
1935-1935 Wolseley Eighteen
1936–1938 Wolseley 14/56
1937–1938 Wolseley 18/80
1935–1937 Wolseley Super Six 16HP, 21HP, 25HP
1938–1941 Wolseley 14/60
1938–1941 Wolseley 16/65
1938–1941 Wolseley 18/85 (also produced in 1944, for the military)
1937–1940 Wolseley 16HP, 21HP, 25HP

1928–1931 Wolseley 21/60 Straight Eight Overhead Cam 2700cc (536 produced)

Wolseley long used a two-number system of model names. Until 1948, the numbers reflected the vehicle's engine size in units of taxable horsepower as defined by the Royal Automobile Club. Thus, the 14/60 was rated at 14 hp (RAC) for tax purposes but actually produced 60 hp (45 kW). Later, the first number equalled the number of cylinders.

After 1956, this number was changed to reflect the engine's displacement for four-cylinder cars. Therefore, the seminal 15/60 was a 1.5-litre engine capable of producing 60 hp (45 kW). Eventually, the entire naming system was abandoned.

1939–1948 Wolseley Ten (Morris Ten)
1937–1948 Wolseley 12/48 (Post war version was the Series III)
1946–1948 Wolseley Eight (similar to Morris Eight Series E)
1947–1955 Wolseley Oxford Taxi (Morris Commercial design)
1948–1953 Wolseley 4/50 (similar to Morris Oxford MO)
1952–1956 Wolseley 4/44
1956–1958 Wolseley 15/50 (MG Magnette ZB)
1957–1965 Wolseley 1500

similar to Riley One-Point-Five, based on Morris Minor
1958–1961 Wolseley 15/60 (Austin A55 (Mark 2) Cambridge)
1961–1969 Wolseley Hornet (similar to Riley Elf, based on Mini)
1961–1971 Wolseley 16/60 (Austin A60 Cambridge)
1965–1974 Wolseley 1100/1300 (BMC ADO16)
1967–1971 Wolseley 18/85 (BMC ADO17)

1938–1948 Wolseley 14/60 (Post war version was the Series III)
1938–1948 Wolseley 18/85 (Post war version was the Series III)
1938–1948 Wolseley 25 (Post war version was the Series III)
1948–1954 Wolseley 6/80 (Morris Six)
1954–1959 Wolseley 6/90 (Riley Pathfinder/Riley Two-Point-Six)
1959–1961 Wolseley 6/99 (Austin A99 Westminster)
1961–1968 Wolseley 6/110 (Austin A110 Westminster)
1962–1965 Wolseley 24/80
Australian version of 15/60 and 16/60, but six-cylinder; similar to Austin Freeway.

1972–1975 Wolseley Six (BMC ADO17)
March–October 1975 Wolseley saloon (18–22 series)

Also produced (dates to be confirmed):
Wolseley 4/60 (Dutch version of 16/60)
Wolseley 300 (Danish version of 6/99 and 6/110)

Wolseley also produced a number of aircraft engine designs, although there were no major design wins.

Wolseley 1908 30 hp 4-cyl.
Wolseley 1909 50 hp V-8 air-cooled
Wolseley 1909 54 hp V-8 water-cooled 3.74" x 5.00"
Wolseley 1911 Type B 80 hp V-8
Wolseley 1911 Type C 60 hp V-8
Wolseley 1912 160hp V-8
Wolseley A.R.7 Aquarius I
Wolseley A.R.9 Aries III
 W.4A Python

Wolseley W.4A Viper
Wolseley W.4B Adder
Wolseley Leo
Wolseley Libra
Wolseley Scorpio

Wolseley Aero Engines Ltd was a subsidiary formed around 1931 to design aero engines. When Wolseley Motors Limited was transferred to Morris.

Motors Limited on 1 July 1935 this part of its business was set aside by W R Morris (Lord Nuffield) and put in the ownership of a newly incorporated company, Wolseley Aero Engines Ltd, and remained his personal property.

By 1942 the name of that company had become Nuffield Mechanizations Limited.












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