THE MINI MAG. Volume 2 No.3
  March 2000

Vol.2 Home Page | Index Page

From The Production Line.
With Nairn Hindaugh.
Nairn worked for BMC in the 60’s. Here is another article from his memorabilia.


Undoubtedly, there exists today a demand for out-of-the-ordinary, well finished small cars, and the British Motor Corporation have gone some of the way to meeting it with the Cooper S and Super versions of the ADO15. They now go one step further with the introduction of the Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet.

Radiator shells which bear no relation either to the shape or location of the radiator have been with us for so long that few purists would find fault with the miniature shells which have been designed for the Elf and the Hornet. Chromium plated and bearing the respective marque names, they have plated side extensions forming surrounds for the sidelamps and flashers. At the rear the box shaped boot extension is a further distinguishing feature of the cars.

Other external decorations are a bright plated strip around the waistline and across the scuttle, and a short chrome bonnet centre strip. In addition, metal finished plastic locking strips are used in the windscreen and rear light sealing rubbers. Wrap around rear bumpers of deep fore and aft sections are common to both models, and wheel trims are standard fittings.

The requirements of buyers of small cars in this price class have been anticipated by the addition of a luggage boot extension. This provides 2.5 extra cubic feet of out of sight stowage, at the expense of only 8.4 inches in overall length, that dimension having been increased from 10ft to 10ft 8.75inchs. Internally the boot has a wooden floor, carpet covered, over the spare wheel stowage.

Equipment is comprehensive, a recirculatory heater, screen washers, roof lamps and a windtone horn being standard on both models. The starter motor is solenoid operated, controlled by a combined ignition and starter switch. There is the option of a Smiths fresh air heater at extra cost.

Internally the two cars are clearly defined by their fittings and trim. As the more expensive of the two, the Elf has a small burr walnut instrument panel, as distinct from the oval nacelle of the Hornet. However, in both cases the instruments are similar, a central combined speedometer and petrol gauge, with charge and main beam warning lights, flanked by water temperature and oil pressure gauges.

Both cars have two material trim. The seats are edged with leather, but the Riley seats facings are of heavily textured cloth, while the Wolseley has plastic material simulating a cloth texture. The seat facing material is used as door interior trim and front parcel shelf lining. Front seats are fully adjustable fore and aft and the door locks have lever handles.

A very wide range of colours will be available, and in all cars the roof will be finished in a contrasting shade. Riley cars are to be offered in light yellow, sage green, red, blue and two shades of grey. Wolseley will be in ivory, green, beige, blue and again the two shades of grey.

No concessions have been made to the sporting ancestry of the two marques in the mechanical specifications, however. Although, naturally, all the latest ADO15 engine, transmission and suspension modifications have been incorporated, the power source is the basic, single carburettor 848cc unit, developing 34bhp at 5,500rpm. The gearbox and its change mechanism are also quite standard except that the Riley gear lever is chrome plated.

It is apparent from the specification that the Wolseley Hornet and Riley Elf will satisfy those small car buyers who put a premium on finish and comprehensive equipment at the expense of some performance due to extra weight. Enthusiasts for the two marques may welcome the opportunity to add a second car to their stable, or to do their daily motoring behind a familiar radiator badge.

This article is from “The Autocar” 13 October 1961.