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4/50 convert to lhd
October 16, 2019
7:47 pm
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James Seaward
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October 16, 2019
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Hello, as a new member/owner of a mature but very sound 4/50 that has previously featured in Wiseley, I would be very interested to hear if anyone has converted the steering on one of these cars – in my case I would like to convert from UK spec to lhd if this is possible. Of course, if anyone should have necessary bits after converting from lhd back to UK spec that would be perfect. In any case I’m looking forward to using the car regularly here in France, and as time goes by will find other problems to research. Thanks in advance for any help.

October 20, 2019
9:38 am
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Hi James

Welcome to the Wolseley Register, and to the forum!

I’m afraid that I’m not an expert on the 4/50 nodels, but having spoken with a couple of other members, we all agree that converting your 4/50, whilst not impossible, would most likely be an extremely difficult job, and one that would seriously affect the end value of the car.

Cars built in this and earlier periods, unlike cars of today, were not built to readily convert to either driving side. It is unlikely that you would have the duplicated body apertures and fittings to move over, so you would have to make new holes through your bulkhead on the left hand side, and infill the original holes on the right hand side. The new steering box mountings would have to be made on the left hand side, and it is likely that the various steering arms are handed. There might not even be room in the other side of the bonnet to fit the steering box?

I suspect that your car has column gear change? Assuming so, then the gear linkages might also interfere with the new steering layout. So these might need to be reversed. There could be a whole host of other complications. This sort of work would seriously reduce the originality of your car, and would devalue it.

We have lots of members on mainland Europe who happily drive their rhd Wolseleys without incident, but if you are really concerned about that, then perhaps the best solution is to look for an originally produced left hand model?

Apologies if this is a negative response, but I hope it helps.
Bob

October 20, 2019
8:42 pm
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James Seaward
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October 16, 2019
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Hello Bob, thanks for a prompt reply, I wasn’t expecting anything for a while. I don’t have any problem with driving rhd cars here in France but it is certainly more convenient to have lhd for overtaking (tractors and farm machinery for example) , exiting parking spaces, and some angled road junctions can be downright dangerous if the wheel is on the ‘wrong’ side. On a scale of one to ten, what are my chances of finding a nice 4/50 in France do you think? (I suspect it’s somewhere in the region of 0.5.) Since approximately half the 6/80s and probably the 4/50s as well went for export (can anyone tell me how many?) I was rather hoping some of the lhd ones may have found their way back to the UK and been swapped to rhd, thus leaving a heap of steering columns and boxes with gear linkages lurking in someone’s barn. If that many were produced in lhd, I daresay I could find a way to reproduce the layout, given time and the bits. I was always under the impression that in the post-war years, under the ‘export or die’ policies it was the majority of cars that were built with dual bulkhead apertures/mounting points- certainly my Jowett did and even my1964 Sunbeam Alpine still had them all and the biggest problem was finding a l/h steering box and column. (The dashboard was symmetrical and flipped over end to end and with a fresh veneer cut out on the reverse side it bolted straight in.) The Wolseley like many others of the era has its instruments placed centrally and I had always assumed this was to facilitate the export of lhd cars. In the Uk from 1946 a purchaser of a new car had to keep it for six months, and in 1948 this was extended to two years in an attempt to curtail the blackmarket trade in cars – the majority of home production going for export. The restrictions were eased off in 1952 (the year of my 4/50) and only BMC ( now including Wolseley), Ford, Vauxhall, Rootes and Standard were still bound by the compulsory ownership period, which was reduced to twelve months. The regulations ceased early in 1953. Anyway, it looks as though I should forget about converting the steering, I’ve got plenty of other things to get my teeth into, not least changing to negative earth and fitting a dynamotor. I have to confess I don’t worship originality, I use my cars and I like to use them safely and reliably and like to ask myself would the original designers do this if they had access to the same modern equipment and materials.
I doubt whether there are many 1950’s cars in regular use that are still original, and if they are, they are probably taking a risk every time they leave home. (Trafficators, brake linings, wiring etc….)
Just a personal opinion!
Talking of regulations, I now have to get my Wolseley registered in France. Not a simple process.
Regards, Pat Seaward.

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