1937 RILEY 12/4 1½ LITRE FOUR DOOR SALOON
Registration No. BCR 812
Chassis No. 28FX7495
Engine No. tba
Black with red interior.
Engine: four cylinder in-line, twin high camshaft, 1496cc, single downdraught carburettor; Transmission: dual overdrive five-speed; Suspension: beam front, live rear axle, half elliptic springs all round; Brakes: drum all round. Right-hand drive.
Percy Riley of Coventry made his first car in 1898 and his company went on to build a great variety of quite distinguished medium-priced bicycles, tricycles and automobiles, punctuated by the occasional automotive masterpiece. One such milestone was the Riley Nine of 1926, powered by a very efficient high-camshaft engine with hemispherical cylinder heads. The Nine's light four-door saloon body accommodated four adults in comfort within the car's wheelbase and was good enough to be cribbed by Rolls-Royce for the first of their Continental Phantoms.
Sporting varieties of the Nine followed and in the 1930's there were many competition successes, notably the Tourist Trophy race, won three years in succession. Racing cost the company dearly and the marque's 1938 range marked a change of policy. Announced in September 1937, it consisted only of four and six-cylinder, comfortably-equipped, saloons. With a long-stroke engine bringing it into a low Road Fund Tax class, the 1.5 litre four was a popular model. There was the company's Hi-Charge induction system to provide best power output from the eager engine and an ingenious double overdrive transmission.
Owned by the present vendor for 25 years, this Riley saloon is one of only two of the model known to be in roadworthy condition. When it was acquired in 1972, the owner embarked upon a two-year restoration. From 1974 to 1988, the Riley provided the vendor and his wife with their only transport. At present the overdrive does not operate. To compensate, 18 inch diameter wheels have replaced the original 17 inch ones to give a brisk top gear gait. It is a car with some history and is offered complete with log-books dating back to 1945.
These Riley saloons were built in the traditional manner with metal panelling supported by an ash frame, which in this case has received recent attention around the wheel arches. Body panel condition and door fit is reasonable as is the paint and upholstery. Although the original leatherwork has been replaced with vinyl, the work has been carried out to an appropriate standard. The engine compartment is very clean and shows signs of much care. There is a quiet, readily-started engine restored in 1994, when a new clutch was fitted, the starter and dynamo overhauled, and the car rewired from the engine bulkhead forward. It is reported to drive very well.
This appealing Riley saloon is accepted by the influential Vintage Sports-Car Club as a Post-Vintage Thoroughbred and would make an excellent rallying mount, rewarding an owner's attention to maintenance and detailing. It is expected that a current MoT certificate will be available.