THE “ICONIC” POLICE CAR 1948 to 1962
From 1922 to 1969 Wolseley Motor Cars were the favoured motor manufacturer of most Police Forces throughout the United Kingdom, especially the Metropolitan Police, and the Wolseley 6/80, manufactured between 1948 and 1954 became their firm favourite.
The “Powerful & Efficient 6-cylinder 6/80” eventually became the mainstay of the Metropolitan Police fleet for both Wireless Area Cars and Motor Traffic Patrol.
The Wireless Area Car handled the duties associated with 999 emergency calls, and all other routine patrolling in each district. The plain black 6/80 was fitted with an antenna near the rear of the roof, a chromium emergency Winkworth Bell, and two illuminated number-plate-style police signs across the front and rear.
Motor Traffic Patrol also used the 6/80, each Metropolitan Police District had at least one of these operating right round the clock. The Traffic Patrol version differed from the Area Car by also having two bowl-shaped Tannoy Loud-hailers above the windscreen.
Both police versions carried an additional interior mirror for the Observer/Operator who was responsible for logging and dealing with incoming and outgoing wireless messages, map reading, control of the bell in emergencies, and the use of the public address system where applicable. The Wireless Area Car often carried a Plain-Clothes Observer for occasions when the sight of a uniformed officer might otherwise hinder an ongoing enquiry.
Over the decades a lot has been written about Wolseley Police Cars, particularly by crime writers of fictional material, elevating the cars’ performance capabilities often with dramatic references to “souped up” versions as being the norm. The opposite was the case in fact, and the Police 6/80 was never souped up. However the drivers were trained to “Police Roadcraft“ standard which gave them the edge over other motorists.
The 6/80 is often seen today in period film and TV detective dramas such as “Miss Marple”, “The Man Who Knew too Much”, “The Saint”, “Dixon OF Dock Green” and many more….