Memories of a Wembley Saloon

Gerald Walker writes:

Hi Ruairidh

 
Here are a few more old photos of the Wembley saloon.  All rather poor quality I am afraid.
 
Dad bought the car in 1963 for £40 from Capt Neil Hadley, a US serviceman who was returning to America.  We have only one colour photo of the car, in which it looks rather brown.  The fabric was all original and had been varnished.  It seemed to have originally been silver with black graining.  It must have looked quite spectacular when new with those shiny wheel discs and a silvery body.  I think the roof had originally been blue. 
 
As a teenager I drove this car on L plates (Dad ran a garage so I was never sure what was available for me to drive, from an Austin 7 up to an XK140 Jaguar) .  I remember the Wembley as being very quiet and very cosy, even in winter.  It had rather low backed seats but they were very comfortable.  There were very deep footwells for the rear seat passengers and the back seat was comfortable even for a six footer like me.  The back seat lifted up to give access to the little luggage compartment at the back.  The car had been fitted with a Tecalamit automatic greasing system, but all that remained of this was a button on the dashboard and the oil reservoir under the bonnet.  Instrumentation included a voltmeter. 
 
The body was Gordon England’s patented system which was a rigid lightweight body mounted at three points, one each side of the scuttle and one at the back.  There is a flexible leather joint between the scuttle and the front bulkhead.   The petrol tank and dashboard were mounted on the bulkhead and, when driving, it was a little disconcerting to see the dashboard moving about relative to the body.  There were ventilation holes along the top of the windscreen, but the inner tube which would open these was seized while we had the car.
 
We took the car to Beaulieu in 1964 and 1965.  Gordon England himself saw the car and pointed out that the body was not square and how to correct this by adjusting the rear body mounting.  As I mentioned elsewhere, he had not expected his bodies to last so long.
 
In 1966 Dad sold the car for £170 to Ian Moore, who spent £600 on restoring it.   During restoration he discovered that there were plywood lions decorating the doors.
 
The photos show the car 1. as bought, 2. on Midsummer Common, Cambridge at an event organised by Marshalls, the local Austin dealer, in 1963, and 3. at Beaulieu in 1967 after restoration.
 
As a young lad I was really so impressed with this car.  It inspired me to design a closed body for my special, which I am only now confident enough to build.  It also inspired a love of wheel discs.  When Dad removed a wheel disc to check the tyre pressure we both gasped, because the wheels were shiny black and like they had just come out of the factory.
 
I am hoping my memories are accurate, but it was 50 years ago.
 
Best wishes
Gerald Walker
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