With longer, slightly finned rear wings and larger boot capacity, the Wolseley Hornet was billed as a more luxurious, upmarket version of the Mini. The Hornet also has a higher quality interior trim and more external chrome than the original mini. The Riley Elf was introduced as a sporty version.
In the original Wolseley Hornet sales brochure the car was described as a small car with a big inside, big enough for family motoring, big enough for long distance touring where comfort and luggage capacity are essentials.
The exceptional economy of B.M.C mini motoring and the altogether outstanding road performance that goes with it are now so well-known as to become significant of a new and refreshing way of motoring. Lively acceleration, excellent road holding and cornering characteristics, together with compact dimensions to facilitate manoeuvring and parking are features which have never before seen so effectively combined in a four seat saloon.
Over its 8 years, it had two minor facelifts, the first of which in 1963, saw the original Mini 850 engine replaced by the Cooper's 998cc. This gave added speed and better performance. The Mark III, launched in 1966, featured wind-up windows, and integral door hinges - features not seen on the Mini until 1969.
The car was killed off, in both guises, with the axing of all Riley Models in 1969, and was indirectly replaced by the Mini Clubman Models. In total 30,912 Riley Elfs were built. During the same period 28,455 Hornets built.