Registration No: JK 7776
Chassis No: 325/5525
In 1927, the automotive industry witnessed a significant turning point when Sir William Morris made a daring move by acquiring the struggling Wolseley Motors from Sir Herbert Austin, one of its original founders dating back to 1901. Under Austin's leadership, Wolseley had taken a downward trajectory in an attempt to broaden its market appeal after the First World War. However, his efforts fell short, leaving the brand in dire straits. Morris, recognizing an opportunity to revive Wolseley's former prestige, purchased the company for £730,000, initially financing the acquisition himself. His motive was to create a clear distinction between Wolseley and his more mainstream automobile brands, Morris and MG.
This bold move not only saved Wolseley's Ward End factory in Birmingham but also safeguarded the livelihoods of its employees during the tumultuous economic climate of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Lord Nuffield, as he later became known in 1934, was not only a shrewd businessman but also a generous philanthropist. His philanthropic endeavors extended beyond the automotive industry, with notable contributions such as the Nuffield Foundation, Nuffield Trust, and Oxford University's Nuffield College, all of which continue to leave lasting legacies today. In 1936, Lord Nuffield exhibited his compassion by gifting one million Morris Motors Ltd ordinary shares, valued at around £2 million, to an employee fund. These dividends were distributed as an annual bonus to Morris Motors' wage-earners, amounting to two or three weeks' worth of earnings—a practice that was not only an astute incentive for increased productivity but also a remarkable and generous benefit to factory workers of the era.
In 1937, the deep gratitude and admiration of 4,000 Wolseley staff members, representing the majority of those employed at Ward End, were on full display when they collectively contributed up to two shillings (equivalent to 10p or roughly 3% of their weekly earnings) to fund the creation of a unique and exquisitely crafted four-seat convertible coupé. This extraordinary car was conceived as a one-of-a-kind gift from the Wolseley workforce to Lord Nuffield, and it was presented to him in December 1937. Remarkably, this historic automobile still exists today and was exhibited at the National Motor Museum for over four decades. Such was the admiration for this model that it was eventually put into very limited series production, exclusively made to order. Unfortunately, the outbreak of World War II in 1939 halted production after only 154 cars were completed, and today, the Wolseley Register has records of just 18 surviving examples worldwide.
Wearing Black over Cream with Black running boards and a contrasting maroon leather interior, this particular Wolesley 25hp Drophead was first first registered to the Duke of Gloucester, third son of King George V on the 27th of June 1938. An older restoration still presenting well today, these Wolseleys provide exceptional value for money. When The Autocar took it on ‘a strenuous long-distance test... totalling almost exactly 1000 miles in three days in April 1938, the testers achieved a best top speed over a quarter-mile of 90mph, with the 0-60mph sprint taking just 19.1 secs; in other words, near-Derby Bentley levels of performance.
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Auction: 30th Anniversary Sale at The Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 20th Sep, 2023
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Tuesday 19th September 2023 from 1pm to 8pm
Wednesday 20th September 2023 from 9am
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