REVIEW:// Back to my roots - Dads Wolseley 16|60

Sometimes life can be pretty amazing. Picture my street any early morning in the mid 70s: a four storey building in red brick surrounded by green grass field and a parking space filled with the odd greenish, yellowish, brownish and white vehicles: Citroen Ami in matte red, P5 Rover 3500 in yuk olive (I want one now), brownish Simca 1100, off white Beetle 1300, lime green 2CV, silver Hondamatic Civic, and another vote for brownish: a Datsun Cherry. And then all of a sudden a hidden treasure in our street: a BRG Wolseley 16/60. And it was my dads first car.

Wolseley 16/60

Imagine me being proud and telling mates about this exotic limo shining so bright in the early morning sun. But no . . . they laughed and thought it wan an old hat compared to the period Opels and Fords. Ah no! That creamy Merc 200 or that babyblue fastback Kadett did it for them. The local library carbook stock learned the Facel Vega HK500 had a front a bit similar to our Wolly. The London police raced villains in look-a-like Austin Cambridges but ours had the leather 'n fake walnut inside. C'mon this had to be a good car!

In 1974 dad bought the 16/60 pictured here from a college professor and friend who had to move to the States and could not bring his collection of cars: Mini Cooper, Jag Mk2 and the Wolseley. I remember a legendary fast trip in the Mk2 carying five at well over 120 mph on 70's highways. Those were the days.

Memory lane

So dad parked the car in our street but had no licence still. It took him well over a year, not only because he had a bike accident which took him some time to recover from. One particular summer’s day he felt the itch to illegally drive his car just to try. With a good few months of stand still the Wolseley decided to overheat and dad had to be towed home. Oh bugger. How happy was he when he got the papers and took us out for a spin in style. I felt like a king in the lovely leather backseat and I reckon dad must have felt like an emperor.

Wolseley 16/60 dash

The car had huge retractable arm rests, carpet all over, a wooden dash with amazing dials and switches. The radio had a huge speaker and quality sound. There was just that breeze of quality all over on this car. But there was more: one totally amazing feature, which I've never seen on any other car either before or since, was the illuminated badge on the front grille that glowed in the dark. Talk about a 'touch of class', it was guaranteed to raise a comment wherever you went!

I was instantly fond about this Farina creation. The 16/60 had the flair that almost all cars in our street lacked. They were noisy and smelly. And these cars were not as rare as you saw dozens every day. How my mates thought better of a Taunus or Diplomat was beyond me. How much the family felt for the car explained the many outings we had and we enjoyed it for two summer holidays. But for one bad day . . . dad parked and bumped into a concrete pole. A bad noise and an awful sight remained and had the car declared a total loss as the insurance would not cover for the repairs. Dad had to sell our trusted Wolseley for peanuts money and with a pain in his heart he did so.

Amazing

Back in 2005 I found my dad's first car back. Tracing the plates led to a guy living in the outback of Holland: windy Zeeland. The now owner found the car hiding in a previous owners garage. The original dark green paint was poor and he had it redone in a stylish two-tone that suits the car rather well. The front seats were worn and he had them replaced by a set of Jaguar XJ6 S1 seats. I brought my dad along for the reunion and we instantly recognized the features we adored so much. A spin along the Zeeland countryside did not disappoint. The car has a lively character and enough grunt - ah well - coming from the famous long stroked 1.6 BMC lump: 61 horse! 0-60 mph 21 sec! 30 mpg!

The Wolseley had a few look-a-likes: Austin A60 Cambridge, MG Magnette Mark IV, Morris Oxford VI and the Riley 4/72. The 16/60 was the most luxurious. Quite a bit of these cars were built during the 1961 to 1971 production so parts are not a problem. Of course tinworm is.
Good to see our Wolseley got a good home. The current owner will never sell it . . .

Words and photo's: Albert Mensinga