1922 Wolseley 10 E3

Hundred year old Wolseley Heirloom


Published on 25 Dec 2023

The Wolseley 10 E3 was made as a replacement to the Pre World War 1 E2 Satellite in 1920. The newly designed E2 and the larger Fifteen A9 both featured cutting edge advances, with their overhead camshaft engines and electric starters.

The E3 is driven via a three-speed manual gearbox, plus reverse, and is quoted with a top speed of 54mph.

In 1921 a modified Wolseley 10 set ten endurance records, and in 1922 ten further records were set at Brooklands when the car ran for some 6 hours covering a distance of 514 miles at an average of just over 81 mph!

The car featured here has had extensive restoration done to it over the past two years and has just been made roadworthy and is in pristine condition. The car has also had an illustrious past and for the past 64+ years of its life, has remained in the same family. By the way, it has had its first restoration done in around 1965 when in the custody of Mr. Victor Ranawaka - grandfather of the current owner.

V537 first came in to the country in 1926 when the first owner J B Allan who was a British planter imported it through the local agent Rowlands Ltd. The car had been in his possession since new (1923) in Scotland and was imported to Ceylon when Mr. Allan was posted to the Eigburth Estate in Rakwana and later West Town Estate, Rakwana. Records indicate that Mr Allan was an enthusiast, and indeed in a letter written to later owner Mr Victor Ranawaka in Ceylon, Mr Allan says that it was even “overhauled” prior to being shipped to Ceylon – although it was only three years old at the time!

In 1948, when Mr Allan went back to Scotland, and he left the car with his nephew, who was at the time working at Hetherleigh Estate, Rakwana. In the letter addressed to Mr Victor Ranawaka, Mr Allan states “… when I sold West Town Estate, Rakwana in 1948 and left for Scotland, I regretfully left the car in the hands of my nephew who was at Hetherleigh Estate, Rakwana”.

The car then had its ownership transferred to one Mr Darlin Silva also of Rakwana, who according to the registration records was the 2nd owner of the car.

V537 was bought by Mr Ranawaka in 1959. According to the comprehensive records kept by Mr. Ranawaka, it states that the car was in a very poor condition when he bought it and that he may have “saved it from being scrapped”. The car had then been restored under the supervision of Mr Victor Ranawaka and his son Mr. Thusitha Ranawaka. Mr Ranawaka joined the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain, undoubtedly helping in the correct restoration of the car at the time. Soon after, in 1961, the car was entered in a Vintage car Rally and obtained a top award and was subsequently also entered in many other events including a CMSC Rally in 1963.

Since the demise of Mr. Victor Ranawaka, the car remained in the family, but gradually fell into disuse and disrepair. Two years ago, Nipuna Ranawaka – grandson of Mr. Victor Ranawaka wanted to restore the now rusty and neglected Wolseley – not to make it run again - but to have it as a display in their ancestral home in Deniyaya.  

Ravindu Rajantha the man to whom the job was delegated to; runs RR Repair Shop, which specializes in Vintage Car restorations. Ravindu was perhaps not the greatest choice for Nipuna to do a “cosmetic repair” to make V537 into a display-only item. In fact, Ravindu is one of those rare individuals in Sri Lanka who is young, astute and most of all an expert on Vintage Automobiles. He left no stone unturned in the restoration. He contacted the Wolseley Club of UK and tapped in to their resources. He also got in touch with a gentleman in UK who has three Wolseley Ten E3s dismantled for spares. Most of all, he convinced Nipuna Ranawaka that after all this effort, V537 should be totally restored and brought back to her former glory.

Ravindu and his team dismantled V537 to reveal the full extent of rust and deterioration. The wooden frame of the car was totally remanufactured. The engine and transmission was fully rebuilt. Special care was taken in rebuilding the 4-cylinder overhead cam engine using all the correct parts sourced mainly from the UK. The overhead cam-shaft of the engine is driven by a toothed vertical shaft, a highly advanced design for a car produced in the 1920’s! Also at a time when most other cars were using “Delco” ignition, Wolesley was using contact-breaker distributor. Similarly Wolseley was among the first to use an electric starter motor – although the crank handle was retained for “emergency” use!

Nipuna Ranawaka along with Ravindu Rajanath, has already taken the car to a recent Vintage Car Rally in Colombo, and Nipuna was admitted as a member of the Vintage Car Owners’ Club. Undoubtedly, V537 is once again in safe and secure hands.


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