The design of the six cylinder 1271 cc over head camshaft Wolseley Hornet engine was to have serious implications for three of the Sir William Morris owned car companies. When the ailing Wolseley company was acquired personally by William Morris in 1927, sales of Wolseley products were very slow indeed. Morris set about restructuring the company along Morris Motors lines and discovered in the process that work was well underway on a new small six cylinder engine. He immediately capitalised upon this development work by ensuring that a truncated four cylinder version of just 847 cc was speedily adapted for use in his new 'baby' car, the Morris Minor, the model being launched in the late summer of 1928.
The six cylinder engine was then installed in a lengthened Morris Minor chassis and with a version of the Minor Coachbuilt Saloon body fitted (together with a Fabric skinned version), was launched amid much press fanfare in April 1930. Named the Wolseley Hornet it was a big success and almost single-handedly was resposible for the resurrection of the Wolseley marque. The two saloon 'factory' versions were quickly followeed by a sporty two-seater, the Semi-Sports, while the specialist coachbuilders clambered to obtain rolling chassis upon which to build their own sports bodies.
Competition success followed and another William Morris business, The M.G. Car Company, used the engine in their new range of six cylinder sports cars as well as fully developing the four cylinder variants which powered their first Midget model and all subsequent Midgets up to 1936.
While the early thirties motoring press much admired the Hornet, the British motoring public purchased the car in ever increasing numbers and the story of its early success is told through the images and articles to be found on the following pages.
1930 Wolseley Hornet Coachbuilt Saloon (LAT glass plate 778-40)