Wolseley the pocket

premium pioneer

Wolseley 1500

POCKET premium is by no means a modern approach to motoring.

One of the most formative periods for this trend was the late 1950s and one of the best examples of this then budding automotive genre was the Wolseley 1500.

This was a more classy take on the old Morris 1000 and it certainly worked.

It is hard to believe that nearly 65 years have elapsed since the launch of this car which caused something of a stir in the driveways of the UK when it appeared in 1957.

It hit the streets with a Riley sibling for the more performance minded and its Wolseley trappings and classic styling made it a must-have for those wanting to take a step up from the Morris marque.

Interestingly, the car stemmed from an attempt to replace the Morris 1000, but such was the outcry that this favourite was to be replaced that bosses at the BMC group decided to introduce the new design under different badges. No Morris, MG or Austin versions were offered in the badge-engineered philosophy that was then blowing through the halls of the BMC empire.

However the Moggie 1000 won out in the end outliving by a year the Wolseley which was reversed into the garage of rest in 1965.

One of the great strengths of the Wolseley was its British drawing room approach to driving with rather snooty styling, beautifully upholstered seats, chrome-spoked steering wheel and acres of wood panelling in the interior. This car just shouted class.

It featured clever use of the Morris floorpan and torsion bar suspension layout but was faster with a top speed of 78mph.

It had its little eccentricities such as a flashing green light on the indicator stalk that was so annoying that you could not possibly forget you had left the indicators on.

The 1500 saw Series II and III developments along the way and was a long-laster of a car.

One of its big styling points was the Wolseley front grille and badge treatment.

But the 1500 did not stay in the staid and steady lane for long because many were finished in very bright two-tone paint schemes which, along with well-trimmed interiors, helped give these compact saloon cars an upmarket and unusually stylish feel.

The 1,489cc BMC B-Series engine was a tough unit and gave great service with an economy score of around 32mpg.

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