In 1969, Austin-Morris investigated ways to increase the appeal of the slow-selling Austin 3 Litre. This Wolseley 3 Litre prototype, as photographed at the Longbridge Elephant House in 1967, was the result of that project.
Alexander Boucke, a leading authority on these cars, tells us about this important car…
Wolseley 3 Litre: another missed opportunity?
This is probably the only Wolseley version of the Austin 3 Litre produced, and it is interesting because it appears to be based on a prototype ADO61, indicating BMC was looking at badge engineering the car before it was launched. The prototype details are there to see – if you compare the press photographs of ADO61, you’ll find the very early ones show a car without side skirts and a chrome finisher along the sills. Also, the doors do not have the BMC 1800 Mk2/Austin Maxi style ‘safety latches’ but traditional door handles and locking pins. The front quarterlights are also missing. All of these details are to be found in the Wolseley pictured here.
The exterior picture (above) shows a running car, without the side skirts and featuring early 3 Litre wheels (later ones lacked vents). The front panel looks to be handmade – so, a prototype build, rather than using any production tooling. The petrol stain around the fuel filler and the oil cooler in the place of the right overrider indicate a car which was driven.
Wolseley 3 Litre interior pictures
It is unclear as to whether the interior photographs are of the same car. Being black and white pictures, it is not possible to verify the body colour in each picture. However, if you look closely, you can see there is (just) the chrome strip visible that runs along the sill on the production cars. But then, the door trims are built around the early doors that never made it into the production 3 Litre as far as we know.
Assuming that this interior predates the introduction of the 3 Litre de Luxe, not all of this effort was lost: the seats seem to be the same as on the de Luxe cars, although one cannot say if the upholstery is in Ambla (as in the later Austin and Wolseley 18/85 MkII) or in real leather. Also the larger door cappings found their way into the ‘de Luxe’ and Wolseley 18/85 Mk2. The door trims lost the nice armrests (to be replaced with items from the VP Princess 1300) and door bins on the way to the production.
Thanks to Neil Kidby.
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