‘Landcrab’ may not sound like much of a term of endearment, but there’s plenty to love about BMC’s under-rated family saloon, not least as it’s available at bargain prices
Wolseley Landcrab (1964-1975) Review
If the 1100 and 1300 took all the best bits of the Mini and added space with practicality, the 1800 and 2200 took the concept to its ultimate conclusion, with a seriously roomy cabin and comfort levels way beyond anything a Mini owner could ever imagine. But despite its great dynamics, comfort and space, the 1800 and later the 2200, together known as the Landcrab, never really captured buyers’ imaginations.
Power (bhp@rpm) 86bhp@5300rpm
Torque (lb ft@rpm) 101lb ft@3000rpm
Top speed 93mph
Gearbox 4-sp man/4-sp auto
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
BODYWORK & CHASSIS
Most Landcrabs have been welded by now. Most rust-prone is the MkIII, with its thinner steel, but all can suffer rotten sills and jacking points; cover sills are common. Rusty floorpans are likely too, so lift the carpets to check from inside and get underneath too.
The rear wheelarches are double-skinned, making repairs trickier, but they’re fairly hardy. Doors can rust because of blocked drain holes, but Maxi items are a straight swap for MkII and MkIII Landcrabs. Also check the headlamp surrounds.
The rear of the front and rear wheelarches rot badly, as can the trailing edge of the bootlid and bonnets along the front edge.
The six-cylinder engines are less stressed than the B-series units, but also less durable; you’ll get 100,000 miles out of a 2.2-litre powerplant, but 150,000 from an 1800 unit.
The B-series engine sounds tappety even when set up properly. At tickover expect 15-25psi oil pressure and 50-65psi at 3000rpm. Anything less means the crankshaft is worn – which means an engine rebuild – or the oil pump is on its way out.
Crankcase breather pipes get blocked, causing oil to be burned; the plastic oil filler cap is a consumable to be replaced every 12,000 miles.
Oil consumption can also be through worn valve guides or stem seals, so check for smoke when you apply the throttle after the over-run. Oil leaks are common too, from the front and rear crankshaft seals, and the tappet chest side covers behind the exhaust manifold.
The 1800’s carbon clutch release bearing wears quickly; feel for a vibration through the clutch pedal. Autos are rare – the Borg-Warner Type T35 differs in detail from the standard unit but it’s possible to fit an Ambassador or Princess unit, with detail modifications.
The Hydrolastic suspension is reliable if the displacers are pumped up every five years or so. The problems don’t lie with the displacers – it’s the hoses which lead into them that give up.
Also check the rubber doughnut driveshaft coupling for cracks and splits, on manual 1.8-litre cars, which wears; the coupling between the steering column and rack can suffer the same ailment.
On cars with power-assisted steering, fluid may be leaking from the hose unions, reservoir or hydraulic ram. At worst you’ll have to fit a reconditioned steering rack, with a kit of seals available from the club for around £15 or a rebuilt unit weighing in at £100 or so.
The braking system is usually trouble-free, but the brake servo is expensive to replace at £225, so make sure it’s working okay. MkII and MkIII Landcrabs use an MGC unit.
All MkIIIs suffer from poor quality carpets, but the Wolseley Six suffers especially from disintegrating brushed nylon seat trim and headlinings.
There’s good interchangeability with the electrical components, although the Wolseley had its own rear lights throughout production. MkI Austin and Morris cars had different rear lights and the MkII and MkIII cars had different units again.
The Landcrab has much to recommend it, with comfort and space especially prominent on the menu. With trim and panels hard to find you have to think twice about taking on a major restoration project, and with good examples worth relatively little you’re much better buying one that doesn’t need anything significant doing to it.