ur mystery No. 249 this month is an early- to mid ’50s European. It’s a lightweight two- to three-seat open car but didn’t sell that well, at under 5000 units — perhaps surprisingly. What was this little car? Send your solution to email@example.com by September 30, with ‘Mystery Car 249’ in the subject line.
Our mystery car last month was the Wolseley 1000, sold by Leykor (Leyland South Africa) in South Africa from September 1967, with a MKII version appearing in December 1968 through to August 1969. It was not a big seller, with only 450 built over that near two- year period. It was mechanically a normal Mini of the period, with a 998cc A-series engine, and Hydrolastic suspension, but it’s in the bodywork that we see some interesting differences. The front end is Wolseley Hornet, with the trad-style main radiator grille (complete with little light-up badge!) and the two smaller side grilles, but the rear end is ordinary Mini, with the standard small boot rather than the neatly styled add-on boot of the UK series production Wolseley Hornet, of which only small numbers came into New Zealand: our main luxury Mini was the very similar Riley Elf variant, a popular little car over here.
Other differences to be seen include the use of quarter lights and wind-down front windows. These were not featured on British models but had been available on Aussie-built Minis for some time — no doubt the warmer weather conditions in Australia prompted the resourceful British Motor Corporation (BMC) Australia engineers to come up with this useful design change. Somehow, the design change had reached the Leykor design or production staff, and it had been implemented on its version of the Wolseley. I have read somewhere that complete doors might actually have been exported to South Africa by the Australians — I’m not sure whether that’s a rumour or a fact, but let’s mention it in passing. Funny things certainly went on in the British Leyland world at that time! There were a few internal differences, such as a changed dashboard with extra padding, plus water-temperature and oil-pressure gauges and warning lights.
And, to add a footnote to this unusual Wolseley, guess what happened in late 1969 — to replace the car, Leykor’s next confection was another Mini variant, this time with a standard Mini front end, but a Hornet/elf-style boot on the back! One wonders whether a job lot of leftover Hornet/elf rear ends was sent over from Britain for Leykor to use up, as (coincidentally?) production of both cars ceased in Britain in late 1969.
We were surprised at how many of you remembered our mystery No. 247, the durable Standard Atlas van and its later Leyland versions. They are very rare birds these days, but one of our entrants actually has a couple of them, so some do survive. Our winner was Robert Sherman.
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Answers to last month’s crossword, No. 289 Across 1. Scamp autobahn 9. Towns 10. Atlantic 11. Astra CKD Allard 17. blower 18. AJS 21. rotor Leyland Overland 25. Midas 26. TVR Vixen Velox