Tag Archives: Automobile

Halfway House – Volvo 144

Volvo 144

The Volvo 140 launched in 1966, which superseded the Volvo 120 Amazon series, was the seed design that stayed in production across two distinct series of models for thirty years until 1996. The 140 design was significantly updated in 1973 as a precursor to the 240 series launched in 1974.

Volvo 144

This 1973 140 model, a halfway house between the original 140 series and forthcoming 240 series, has many interior features familiar to early 240 owners including much of the entirely padded plastic faced dashboard, round, replacing the previous strip, instrumentation and rocker switch gear.

Volvo 144

For 1973 power for the 140 series came from a 1986 cc / 121 cc straight 4 cylinder Over Head Valve B20 motor itself the last iteration of a design born out of the Volvo V8 B36 motor used in Volvo commercial vehicles.

Volvo 144

The tail of the 1973 and ’74 140’s is also identical to that on the early 240 series the only thing missing is the much larger energy absorbing bumpers of the latter model.

The 140 series was dropped in 1975 with final production of all 140 variants since 1966 totalling over one million units which were built at plants in Torslanda Sweden, Ghent Belgium, Halifax Nova Scotia Canada, Melbourne Victoria Australia and Shah Alam Malaysia.

Thanks for joining me on this Halfway House edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil psycho on tyres’, I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Patina with well travelled history – Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Super Sport, #0312961

My thanks to every one at the Alfabb forum who made today’s post on this 1929 Alfa Romeo possible.

The 6C 1750 was in production from 1929 to 1933 with 369 examples built. The Super Sport came in normally aspirated 64 hp or supercharged 85 hp variants.

The 1929 chassis number #0312961 seen here was originally supplied as a double overhead cam normally aspirated model, after it was successfully used in competition it was returned to the Alfa Romeo factory in 1932 and upgraded with a supercharger and replacement crank case.

The body is unusual for the type having an ash frame with steel panels rather than the steel frame with aluminium panels preferred by Zagato.

After it’s initial foray in competition this vehicles adventures continued with a fire department in Ivera, Aosta near Turin. Somewhere around 1939 the vehicle turned up in Eritrea, then an Italian colony where many other vintage Alfa Romeo’s including this one are known to have been used for racing, there is a possibility that during one race #0312961 may have been in collision with a donkey while leading a handicap race in Asmara, Eritrea in 1943.

In 1947 the car was acquired by a British Captain serving with the victorious occupying forces in the former Italian African colony and he imported it to the UK in 1950.

After several more changes of ownership being painted blue, then red again and an engine rebuild the car was sold to an American in Zurich in 1959 who returned with #03122961 to Ohio in 1962. The car was sold to it’s present owner Nick Benwell in 2009 who then set about completing a rebuild that had started in Ohio in the 1960’s.

Nick is a great fan of original patina and as can be seen he has left the bodywork more or less as he found it. With the restoration complete Nick took his car on a 2,100 mile round trip to the Alfa Centenary celebrations last year where the car was waved past 400 other Alfa’s and honoured with being the first to pass through the Arese Factory gates as the oldest vehicle present.

My thanks to everyone at Alfabb.com ‘Help Identifying Vintage Alfa’s at Prescott ?’ thread who provided clues as to which car KYR 564 is including, Odin, Orouge and Duncan Macnab who kindly showed me a copy of Simon Moore’s excellent 2 part feature on this vehicle which appeared in ‘The Automobile‘ August 2010.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s journey across 5 countries on three continents and that you will join me for a look at an Alfa Romeo Giulia Super. Don’t forget to come back now !


On the Origins of Brands – Riley & Wolseley

Today I am looking at two storied brands Riley & Wolseley born out of industrial diversification which were woven into that DNA of the nationalised merger British Motor Corporation in 1952.

From 1961 – 1969 they marketed top end 3 box versions, featuring wood veneer dashboards, of the Mini known as the Elf and Hornet respectively.

In 1896 William Riley jr purchased the Bonnick Cycle Company of Coventry which was born out of the cycling craze that swept England in 1890 and renamed it Riley Cycle Company.

Williams son Percy secretly built his first car, featuring an engine with the the worlds first mechanically operated inlet valve, in 1898 aged just 16.

Percy who also patented the detachable wheel went into business with his brothers forming the Riley Engine Company in 1903 supplying motorcycle engines and in 1905 they built their first car.

During restructuring in 1918 Riley car manufacture was transferred to Riley Motor Manufacturing which went into receivership in 1938 and was absorbed into the Nuffield Organisation along with Morris and MG, which in 1952 would merge with Herbert Austin’s companies into the nationalised BMC.

By 1947 Riley had ceased manufacturing it’s own designs and became a top end brand for shared designs in the Nuffield and later BMC organisations.

The Riley brand is easily identified by its blue diamond badge originally designed by Harry Rush with the strap line ‘As old as the industry, as modern as the hour’, was discontinued in 1969 and currently belongs to BMW.

Between 1961 and 1969 30,912 Riley Elfs were built.

In 1896 Herbert Austin working for the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Company made a copy of a Leon Bollee vehicle that he had seen in Paris. By 1899 he had built a Voiturette that went into production in 1901 with Herbert Austin in charge of the Wolseley car division that had by now been spun off as an independent concern.

In 1905 Herbert Austin left to set up his own Austin Motor Company.

After several mergers and changes of ownership the Wolseley Motor Company came into existence in 1914 in the hands of Armstrong Siddeley. At this time operations were started in Toronto and Montreal which became British and American Motors after WW1.

In 1918 Wolseley started a joint venture with Ishikawajiama Ship Building and Engineering for the production of Wolseley models under license, in 1947 this venture became Isuzu.

In 1927 William Morris (Lord Nuffield) purchased Wolseley outbidding his rival Herbert Austin and General Motors using his own money.

Woseley became another top end brand for shared designs after WW2 and would become part of the merged BMC a combination of the assets of William Morris and Herbert Austin who between them had been responsible for the rise of much of the British motor industry.

The brand disappeared in 1975 the last model being a wedge shape forerunner of the Austin Princess which was in production for just 7 months.

Today the brand is owned by Nanjing Automobile Group along with the assets of the MG Rover Group. The Wolseley Sheep Shearing Company is today known as Wolseley plc.

28,455 Wolseley Hornets pictured above were built between 1961 and 1969.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s post, don’t forget to come back now !