header image
Homepage. This page: Smart Wolseley Six-Eighty saloon cars photographed in the late 1950s.
Original transport photographs
Old Classic Car Image Archive index >

1. Wolseley 6/80.

Another couple of gems from George's family photo album, this time showing a fine Wolseley 6/80 saloon. This photo was taken in the same year that Sputnik 1 fell back to earth, and a USAF B47 managed to drop a nuclear bomb on South Carolina, thankfully not going off! the year? 1958. The quiet English backdrop to these 2 photos couldn't be further removed from the ruptions that this accidental bomb release would cause across the Atlantic.

Anyway, back to the more genteel subject of the Wolseley (not 'Wolsley' or 'Woolsly' as is sometimes written). The 6/80, which became well known transport for the boys in blue throughout the fifties, first broke cover in 1948 at Earls Court. A first for Wolseley, it had a unitary construction, ditching the age-old approach of using a separate chassis and bodyshell. The styling however retained many of the traditional marque features, including the upright grille, to no doubt appease traditional Wolseley buyers who might otherwise be frightened off by too much change at once. The bulk of production occurred at Cowley, manufacture continuing until the 6/80 was replaced in 1954. The engine was a straight six of overhead cam design, an advanced unit for its day but, at least in its earliest days, not the most reliable due to engine valve issues.
Those used by the Police were finished in black, although Joe Public could opt for dark maroon, grey, or green - the car in George's photos is probably grey therefore. Wolseleys have a loyal band of enthusiasts at car shows now, and the 6/80, along with it's smaller brother the four cylinder 4/50, is definitely one of the rarer postwar models.
Wolseley 6/80
Wolseley Six Eighty

2. Frank's grey 6/80 saloon.

With just 45,000 miles on the clock, Frank's grey 6/80 proved to be an excellent buy, and a comfortable one too when compared to the car it replaced, a Ford-based Nickri special. Bought from a couple of elderly ladies who'd used the Wolseley for a continental road trip, it proved to be a well-made and reliable machine, albeit a little on the thirsty side. A couple of subtle modifications make this 6/80 stand out from the rest. Flashing indicators were a common upgrade on cars fitted as standard with pop-up trafficators. Much less commonly-seen are the wide (banded) steel wheels fitted to this cracking example. Thanks for the photo Frank. Of the car, he adds:
"I wish that I could afford one today as they were true luxury cars, with a fair turn of speed which is why I guess the police had them .... tuned up no doubt. I remember them having a silver bell on the front."
"My most memorable trip with the Wolseley was from West London down to Somerton, near Yeovil. We cruised at 70 to 80mph all the way ... it was a Sunday morning and the roads were virtually empty. Time wise we did the journey in just over 2 hours .... seems impossible to imagine now, but with a clear road and heavy right foot it really happened. The column change was excellent (4 speeds plus reverse of course), and it was just so comfortable....ah happy days!!"
Please click to view:
Colour photo of a 6/80 on wide wheels

3. Prototype/development Wolseley 6/80?

Now, the following two photographs turned up in a small pile of original images some years ago, all of which were either stamped "The Nuffield Organization" or "Morris Motors" on their reverse, so clearly were taken by - or for - the company, probably during the development/prototype phase of the Wolseley 6/80. Other photos of a modified Oxford, from the same batch, feature on the Morris Oxford MO photo page. Others yet to be published, show various test rigs for car components being tested, from the same era. As the 6/80 was popular with Police forces, perhaps these images relate to the modifications made to those cars?
First up is an overhead shot of the car's engine bay, revealing its six-cylinder, twin-carb, engine. Wolseley experts will no doubt be able to spot any differences between the installation shown here, with what would go on to appear under the bonnet of production cars. To my un-trained eye, I can see a cylindrical canister on the far side which doesn't show in under-bonnet photos of standard cars that I've seen. The date on the Lucas control box appears to be 3 48 (the 6/80 was launched in 1948).
Wolseley 6/80 engine
Next is a pre-production view of an early dashboard. My understanding is that the dash was re-designed during the car's life, I've written on the reverse of this picture that the version shown below is the very early type, but I cannot now find photos of such a layout in use, so if anyone can clarify what's shown here that would be useful, thanks.
Wolseley 6/80 dashboard
Return to Classic Motoring Photographs - Page 4.
Custom Search
Old Classic Car (C) R. Jones 2020. Content not to be reproduced elsewhere.
Website by ableweb.
Privacy Policy, Cookies & Disclaimers