1912 Wolsley 24/30hp 5 litre Torpedo Phaeton
Chassis Number: 17297
Registration Number: NA2280
This car is an example of Wolseley's 4,961cc, six-cylinder, sidevalve-engined 24/30hp, an up-market model produced between 1911 and 1915. It is one of a number of 'barn find' early Wolseleys unearthed in Canada in the early 1960s by Charles Neville. Their fascinating story is recounted in Neville's book, 'Wolseleys in Canada' a copy of which comes with the car.
This car is one of only two surviving in the world. It was ordered on 16 Nov 1911 from the factory in Birmingham England on order from Mr John Ross Robertson of 291 Sherbourne Street, Toronto, the founder and proprietor of the Toronto Telegram newspaper. Completed on 12 July 1912 it was shipped to Wolseley's new Toronto Depot, a fine brick building just built at 81-85 Avenue Road. The car was the first or second of a considerable number of these luxurious and very expensive Wolseleys sold until the outbreak of World War I. The depot remained in business until after the war when it changed ownership and became B and A Motors (British and American) to sell some expensive North American cars.
Mr Robertson died in 1918, and it is not known what happened to the car until about 1930 when it was purchased (probably not in running order) by Mr Henry Bowyer of Erskine Avenue, who imported and distributed movie films and later became a cinema projectionist.
Mr Bowyer had, during the late 20's and early 30's, purchased, for his own transportation,several of these pre-war Wolseleys as they occasionally showed up on "used car lots" . Some were still running, other damaged ones and parts were purchased as they became available. Though they were around twenty years old he recognized them as very well- built and reliable cars.
Mr Bowyer eventually moved to a farm north of Huntsville where he erected barns to house the cars and his other interests. He died about 1958 and the restorer acquired all the Wolseley items in 1960 from his estate, and embarked on a mammoth task of sorting everything out and starting to restore the cars, to do a huge amount of research and eventually to write a book about it all.
The Wolseley Company originated in Australia with the invention of a Sheep Shearing Machine by Frederic York Wolseley in the late 1800's. He later became involved in the production of the first Wolseley experimental car in 1895. The company name survived until 1975.
Over 5,500 hours during more then ten years have gone into a nut & bolt restoration of this car alone. New fenders and paint by Steve Beer of Bolton, canvas top, sidescreens and leather upholstery by John Smyth of Heritage Coach Trimming, Brampton. Please take time to read the resoration notes as clearly it was an exhaustive process & even notes the original coachbuilders name, one E. Andrews at Wolseley. There are a full set of photographs of the engine restoration & gear box along with chassis runniing gear & the body which used the original rotted wood for its template whilst retaining the original metal panels.
When new various modifications had been ordered in addition to the normal changes carried out at the factory for export or "Colonial" models as they were called. The Colonial models had a bevel pinion gear and crown wheel drive at the rear axle instead of the worm gear drive on the home models and this provided more ground clearance. The front axles were also different, resulting in a ground clearance under both axles of a healthy ten inches, in recognition of inferior road conditions. One of these modifications was a carburettor heater for cold starting, which is evident on this car.
The restoration of '17297' began in the late 1980s, and by the end of March 1989 most of the mechanical work had been completed, with the engine and running gear reinstalled on the chassis. The left side of the body had rotted away, but fortunately enough of the right side had survived for dimensions to be taken to assist in the body's reconstruction. Frequently interrupted, construction of the woodwork had mostly been completed by May 1992. Neville records: 'The car was started and run under its own power on 18th October 1994 – perhaps for the first time in over seventy years.' Even then, the Wolseley was far from finished, still requiring to be painted, re-upholstered, and refitted with all the accessories such as door handles, lamps, windscreen, horn, etc. Once completed, the Wolseley remained in Canada until 2008 when the previous owner purchased it from Charles Neville.
In addition to the restoration photographs there is a thick binder of hand written restoration & running notes containing scores of pages of meticulous notes detailing all that has been done to the car to bring it to the concours state we find it in today. Also well worth reading we have included a few in the photo gallery but it was far to voluminous to photograph in its entirety.
Undeniably handsome and well-proportioned, the car is finished in green with black wings, green leather interior and matching carpets - all in condcours condition. It has a beige canvas hood, black full tonneau cover, and black canvas hood bag - all very good and serviceable. Other noteworthy features include Bleriot headlamps, Rotax side lamps, electric starter, split-rim wheels, folding windscreen, and a side-mounted spare wheel.
The car starts instantly & runs beautifully. 40 to 50MPH motoring is where it is comfortable & is not disimmilar to a Silver Ghost in driving speed & operation. The engine runs quietly. The gear box is very easy to use due to the complete absence of wear or chipped teeth when is was stripped for restoration & clearly the car as a whole had not done huge miles.
Under the current ownership it has been used each of the last 5 or so years on high days & holidays & to attend assorted classic car shows. covering less then 1000 miles each year. It is however of a standard where I would not hesitate to get in it & drive it 1000 miles on a rally without stopping. It is large, imposing & magnificent.
Viewings are by appoinntment in near Harrogate & we are also able to collect & deliver world wide.

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