A look back at the Wolseley Hornet (1961 – 1969) 0

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Quite early in its production run, the British Motor Corporation (BMC) made the decision to badge engineer the Mini beyond the Morris and Austin editions. In a similar manner to the Farina saloons, there would have been Austin, Morris, Riley, Wolseley and MG versions – the two more luxury orientating versions benefitting from a new three-box body. By the time 1961 came round, they’d all been released apart from the MG which by then had been surpassed by the emergent Coopers.

If it was to enjoy any sort of success and not pale into the shadow of its more run-of-the-mill compatriots, the Wolseley needed some sort of unique selling point. Towards this end, the larger boot was flanked by a couple of small fins and the front saw a new chrome grille (this lifted the bonnet and gave better access to the engine). The dashboard was tidy in appearance with three instruments and a wood veneer surround. All in all, the Wolseley Hornet was popular with the public and sold well.

1963 saw the first facelift to the Hornet and the introduction of the 998cc A-series to the Mini for the first time. Another noticeable addition was Hydrolastic suspension, replacing the rubber-cone type fitted at launch. The Hornet was further improved in 1966 with winding window and better ventilation. Following an eight year production run, the Hornet finally bit the dust in 1969 as BMW morphed into British Leyland.     

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