Our family believed the slogan of a British motor industry pioneer. Irishman Frederick York Wolseley (1837-1899) was the founder of a sheep shearing machine company in Australia. In 1889 his bright works manager in Birmingham, England, Herbert Austin (1866-1941) added bicycle bits to its range of products. In about 1897 he introduced a 3-wheeler car, with a copy Leon Bollée engine and when the founding father died, added a 4-wheeler. In 1904 the company took over a design by John Davenport Siddeley (1866-1953) and Austin departed in a huff to make cars on his own account. Wolseley flourished under Vickers and Morris-Nuffield ownership into a classic middle-class car sold under the slogan Buy Wisely, Buy Wolseley. Over the years we had several of a series that remained firmly comfortably middle-of-the road until the 1970s, languishing locked into the fatal grip of British Leyland.
Wolseley still has admirers. Its owners’ club magazine Wisely allowed me to reminisce. The 15/60 pictured above was my road test of March 21 1959 where I commended its “restful” demeanour and compliant ride, “provided it was handled in a manner expected of a Wolseley owner.” I was reluctant to suggest it was the best of a dreary badge-engineered BMC bunch, which were already failing their MG, Austin, Morris and Riley predecessors.