BMC’s “big Farina cars”, especially the Wolseley, were not bought by the typical Brit in the 50s or early 60s. Although sitting on a 108″ wheelbase, about the same as a Falcon or Rambler, these were up the ladder a few rungs in the rigid auto-hierarchy of the times. I’m afraid I can’t tell you exactly what kind of man the typical Wolseley 6/110 owner was, but apparently they were loved by the London Metropolitan Police as “area cars”, a step up or two from the more lowly “patrol cars”. Even police cars had a well-defined class structure.
And why did the Police like them? Among other things, they were reasonably brisk, thanks to sharing an engine with the famous Austin Healey 3000. although in a lower state of tune.
The Wolseley 6/110 was a mild update on the 6/99, that first appeared in 1959 along with the other ‘Big Farina cars”. Pininfarina had been brought in to restyle the whole range of BMC cars in the mid-fifties, and the Austin A99 (slotted in below the Wolseley) and the very top-end Vanden Plas Princess 3-Litre were its stablemates.
They have their charms, especially now as splendid period pieces, but they were hardly an expression of Pininfarina’s best. I’m not sure whether that’s the result of meddling from BMC, or whatever, but none of them came out as clean and timeless as his Peugeot 404. But then their classic clubby British interiors of leather, wool and wood put them in a whole different league. As well as the big 3 liter six under the hood.
One of the changes from the 6/99 to the 6/110 was a bump in power. to 120 hp. And in reflection of its sportier quality, the gear shift for the three speed moved from the column down to the floor. the 1964 MkII version got the same four speed as the 3000. Overdrive, an automatic, Hydrosteer variable ratio power steering and even air conditioning were optional.
Built until 1968, this was the last big Wolseley. The world was changing, even if a bit slower in some parts of it.