1932 Wolseley Hornet Special, Very Usable Example For Sale
Introduced in April 1930, the Wolseley Hornet and Hornet Special were along with Riley, MG and Frazer Nash, amongst the most sporting English cars of their era.
The Hornet had a small but very smooth 6 cylinder engine of 1271cc mounted in what was essentially a lengthened Morris Minor chassis. The models were revised for 1932 with a shortened, chain-driven overhead-cam engine repositioned slightly further forward to increase legroom and a four-speed 'silent third' gearbox.The ‘Special' produced more power (45 BHP) from its twin-carburettor set up and was usually fitted with centre-lock wire wheels as in the case of our car. Lighter bodied cars were said to be capable of 75MPH - quite a turn of speed at the time.This example has presented us with a rather a mystery. Another green Wolseley - WD 3790 is the Swallow-Bodied Hornet Special which the Jaguar Heritage Trust proudly displays as an early example of Sir William Lyons work at the Swallow Coachbuilding Company. These were the first 6-cylinder Swallows. Production began in January 1931 with an open 2-seater. Later a four-seat model was produced. In April 1932 the new Special chassis arrived which became quite popular. They were the last of the special-bodied Swallows, whose production was replaced in the summer of 1933 by the legendary SS 1 tourer - essentially the first Jaguar car.
Our Hornet Special, WD 3289 bears a very similar Warwick registration mark and some of the classic features of Swallow Coachwork from this era. Intriguingly, the history file contains reference to the car as both a ‘Eustace Watkins' and a ‘'Swallow'. We think the reason for this may be because of a small but clearly original Eustace Watkins plaque on the rear registration plate mounting. Although Eustace Watkins did indeed build bodies on many Wolseley chassis, they were in the early 1930s the largest Wolseley distributor in the world and this may simply have been a car they sold. If a Wolseley aficionado can enlighten us further we'd be grateful, but other Wolseley experts have examined the car before and reading the history file it seems that it is most probably a Swallow body.
There is a good restoration history with invoices and it seems that the then owner wanted a thoroughly reliable M.O.T worthy car with the appearance of a ‘mud plugger' and as presented it does rather look like a trials car. During the well documented restoration the entire mechanics were overhauled in the early 1990s and the car was also rewired. This is a Wolseley which could continue to be used ‘as is' or sympathetically improved cosmetically and fitted with weather equipment. A rare opportunity to pick up a sound and useable Hornet Special with scope for further improvement.
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