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Lot 320: Wolseley Hornet 14hp Special Daytona Sports

The Beaulieu Sale, Bonhams (7 September 2013)

Although its image in later years became ever more difficult to distinguish from that of other makes within the British Motor Corporation, in the early 1930s Wolseley 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 saloon 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 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 Hornets (two E W Daytonas on the Special chassis, one E W International on the standard chassis) in the 1932 relay race at Brooklands at an average speed of 77.57mph. For 1934 the Hornet Special chassis was strengthened and changed to an under-slung arrangement at the rear, while the engine was given a new block and cross-flow cylinder head. The gearbox was updated with synchromesh on 3rd/4th gears. In 1935 Wolseley installed the New Fourteen's 1.6-litre engine in a bid to counter the effects of increasingly heavy coachwork. Sadly, this would mark the end of Hornet Special development, the model being dropped at the end of 1935 when Morris rationalised its car production. This 1.6-litre Hornet Special carries Eustace Watkins bodywork, commissioned by the London Wolseley agent from Abbey Coachworks. The Wolseley has been with the current owner in Denmark for the last 13 years and was previously registered 'BYL 497' in the UK. Finished in red/black with black upholstery, it is described as in generally very good condition mechanically, with excellent bodywork, good paint and fair interior. The car is offered with roadworthiness certificate (Danish) and Danish Registration Document.

Lot Details
Auction The Beaulieu Sale
Bonhams, Hampshire, UK
Lot Number320
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£22000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£25300
Condition rating2
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