WOLSELEY 4/44 REVIEW

The Wolseley 4/44 appeared at the 1952 Motor Show, complete with 1250cc Nuffield XP engine (XPAW to be precise), column gearchange, rack-and-pinion steering and independent front suspension. Production, however, didn't get underway until 1953, alongside the sportier MG Magnette iant boasting a BMC B-series engine.

VITAL STATISTICS

Engine 1250cc/4-cyl/OHV

Power 46bhp@4800rpm

Torque 58lb ft@2400rpm

Top speed 72mph

0-60mph 33sec    

Gearbox 4-speed manual

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

BODYWORK

This is the most important matter to consider with one of these cars. The bodyshells were very well built, but the rustproofing was lacking. Only the front doors, bootlid and inner sill/box section are common with the MG Magnette, though some repair panels can be adapted. Secondhand Wolseley wings are to put it mildly, thin on the ground, but with some work you should be able to adapt an MG one, should you be lucky enough to discover such a thing in some farmyard where you're in danger of having a hen sink its teeth into you.

Look for corrosion at the front valances, seam across the wings, tops of the inner wing, front floorpans, rear spring hangers and bootlid. Check the area around the A-posts and look at the splash panels at the rear of each front wheelarch. If there's rot here there's almost certainly been a riot going on inside the sills, and rust can spread into the floor. The inner sills form part of a box section, the good thing being that they are the same as on the MG, and available. The outer sills are unique to the Wolseley and perform less of a strengthening function than the inners.

Less important potential rot spots are the door bottoms and area around the front sidelamps. Also around the front and rear windscreens, where rot can often result from water seepage.

ENGINE

The XPAW engine in the 4/44 is scarcer than the ubiquitous B-series in the 15/50 but you should be able to get just about naything for both. The XPAW engines are rugged but they are prone to leaking oil from the timing cover/front sump joints.

Unless the bodywork is wonderful, a 4/44 with a tired engine is probably best avoided. These engines aren't pleasant when they are worn and parts for an overhaul can be expensive.

TRANSMISSION

The gearbox tends to be long lived and should only be exhibiting wear you can live with, such as worn synchromesh on second and wear to the baulk rings. A sloppy 4/44 gearchange may be due merely to worn linkages or even just the spring at the bottom of the gearchange shaft. 

BRAKES

The 4/44 had Lockheed 9in hydraulic brakes, and you shouldn't have much difficulty getting anything for those at a reasonable price. The master cylinder is a double unit for brake and clutch, but available from several specialists, a stark contrast to the situation a few years ago.

STEERING & SUSPENSION

The 4/44 has an excellent rack-and-pinion set-up, giving surprisingly good handling. Steering racks can go for huge mileages without problems. The front suspension is a coil spring system and semi-elliptic springs at the back, with telescopic dampers all round.

Rubber bushes can perish, but you can replace them. Kingpins wear, and this will happen quickly if they're not kept well-greased. Again, specialists can supply everything you need.

INTERIOR & ELECTRICS

The cars offer a real touch of luxury for their price, with leather seat facings and polished wood. Carpet seats are available from several specialists.

OUR VERDICT

It's great looking vehicle, the interior is the same as much more expensive and temperamental Wolseleys plus the cars are lucky in that the XPAW engine shares components with the MG T series.

Rot is a problem, so think about it before you take on a major project. Otherwise, these are reliable and charismatic cars ready to provide real enjoyment.

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