1932 Wolseley Hornet Special Sports Coachwork by Eustace Watkins Registration no. PO 6001 Chassis no. 4890CF3 Engine no. 4871/A/PU5
Although its image in later years became ever more difficult to distinguish from that of other makes within BMC, Wolseley in the early 1930s occupied the front rank of British sports cars alongside MG, Riley and Frazer Nash. The single model responsible was the Wolseley Hornet.
Introduced in 1930, the Hornet deployed Wolseley's overhead-camshaft, six-cylinder engine in a lengthened Morris Minor chassis equipped with hydraulic brakes. Its power-to-weight ratio was exemplary among contemporary 1.3-litre cars, the smooth and flexible six pulling from walking pace to more than 60mph. The model was revised for 1932 with a shortened, chain-driven overhead-cam engine (repositioned further forward to improve cabin space) and a four-speed 'silent third' gearbox.
Increased performance was offered by the Hornet Special chassis, which came with 12" brakes and remote-control gearshift. The Special used the shortened engine equipped with twin-carburettors and an oil cooler, in which form it produced 45bhp, good enough for a top speed, depending on coachwork, of around 75mph. The Special chassis rapidly became that of choice for the multitude of independent coachbuilders already using the Hornet as the basis for a sporting two-seater.
The Hornet Special was soon making its mark in competitions, one noteworthy achievement being the victory achieved by a team of three Eustace Watkins-entered Hornets in the 1932 relay race at Brooklands at an average speed of 77.57mph.
This Hornet Special carries Eustace Watkins bodywork, commissioned by the London Wolseley agent from Abbey Coachworks. The car has been in single family (father/son) ownership for the last 30 years and in 1997 benefited from restoration that included new ash body frame sections, a new floor, interior re-upholstery and a repaint. Further works carried out in 2005 included overhauling the cylinder head, checking pistons, fitting a new sump strainer, re-coring the radiator, overhauling the brakes and obtaining a new tonneau cover. Four new tyres were fitted and the wheel spokes re-tensioned in 2011. Finished in British racing Green with matching leatherette interior, 'PO 6001' comes complete with hood frame and side screens and is offered with its original logbook and Swansea V5 document. The car has been in storage for some time and at present is suffering from a stuck clutch, which it is expected will have been rectified by time of sale.