1906 WOLSELEY-SIDDELEY 25HP THREE-QUARTER LANDAULETTE
COACHWORK BY VICTORIA CARRIAGE WORKS, LONDON
Not UK Registered
Chassis No. 2202
Engine No. Tba
Black with yellow panels, coachlining and wheels, black interior.
Engine, four cylinder, inlet over exhaust valves, 5276cc, 25bhp; Gearbox: cone clutch, four speed and reverse, final drive by side chains; Suspension: semi-elliptic leaf spring front and rear; Brakes: footbrake to transmission, handbrake to rear wheels. Right hand drive.
In 1905 The Wolseley Tool and Motor Car Company and Herbert Austin went their separate ways. It is an oft-reported truth that Austin's departure from his old firm was due to an adherence to the use of horizontal engines, over one thousand Wolseleys so equipped of various sizes having been made in a five year period. Since, when Austin set up his own business making cars that from the very start were vertical engined, this seems somewhat implausible. It is far more likely that the two forceful personalities of Herbert Austin and John Siddeley, sales manager of the Wolseley factory at Crayford in Kent were just totally incompatible.
Whatever, Siddeley became general manager of Wolseley's motor car activities and the vertical-engined cars built under his direction in the Birmingham and Crayford works were generally listed at the time as Siddeleys. It was only in 1910 (the year after Siddeley had himself left the firm) that the cars were listed by the Company as Wolseley-Siddeleys. Retrospectively, the name has come to be applied to all the Siddeley-inspired cars made by the Wolseley Tool & Motor Car Co.
For the 1906 season Wolseley-Siddeley produced five models from 12 to 32 horsepower, it being doubtful if an additional 70hp model based on the unsuccessful 1905 Siddeley Gordon Bennett racing car, offered at a staggering £1250 ever tempted a customer and was thus built. The production cars had an interesting method of engine speed regulation whereby the inlet valve opening was altered a by variable-lift camshaft controlled from a lever on the steering wheel.
The 25 horsepower car was of substantial proportions with an engine in excess of 5 litres, which was fitted into a chassis of two possible wheelbase lengths: 10 or 11½ feet at prices of £ 625 or £ 650 respectively. 'Siddeley, vertical, Autocars', made by the Wolseley Tool & Motor Car Company, were advertised in The Autoicar magazine in November 1905, with the observation that 'a wide range of bodies can be fitted'. Wolseley had its own coachbuilding facilities, but as was common at the time, many rolling chassis were sold to customers who then had the vehicle bodied by a coachbuilder of their choice.
Leaving the works on July 23rd, 1906, factory records show that this car was supplied new to Mr J. Balfour-Brown, K.C., who probably saw the chassis in Wolseley's London Showroom in York Street Westminster. It was to his choice that the Victoria carriage works, no distance away in Long Acre, were instructed to build the handsome three-quarter Landaulette body that is still on the car today, and which the large engine is well able to power. No further information is available of the car's early history, but it is known that by the 1940's it was owned by a Nuffield Group dealer in Hampshire, who re-registered it 'KOT 1'. The basic restoration is understood to date from this period, which was necessary owing to the car having been found in a much decayed order.
The Wolseley-Siddeley subsequently became the property of a Surrey enthusiast who sold it at Christie's in 1977, passing through two further owners it was again sold by ourselves in 1982, and then changed hands privately to the current vendor. During the first of these transactions the 'KOT' registration was removed, and prior to its sale in 1982 we recorded that it had undergone recent mechanical work including a new camshaft and followers, and rebuild of the water pump within its last 500 miles. We believe that use since this time has been limited, and would strongly recommend sympathetic mechanical recommissioning prior to committing the car to the road again.
This 'Edwardian' Wolseley-Siddeley came to the attention of the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain, (the club having taken such cars into its ranks after the Second World War) and was dated as being of 1906 in May 1951. From then onwards, as supported by a huge array of rally plaques affixed to the dash and on the panel beneath the front seat, the car appears to have been used extensively for VCC, and other motor club rallies.
The only surviving 25hp Wolseley-Siddeley known to the VCC and the Wolseley register, it is seemingly complete in all major respects with a full complement of brass accessories and its restoration having now mellowed it carries a charming patina of age.
A rare and competently powered Edwardian Landaulette, it would grace any collection as an excellent example of early British manufacture.