We do not know what sort of a reception the new Riley, introduced by the British Motor Corporation last month, will be accorded by old-time Riley enthusiasts who, when the 2.6 Riley replaced the Pathfinder, were quick to point out that Riley reputation was built on individuality. It used to be true of this make — “As Old as the Industry, as Modern as the Hour” — that “there’s the traditional Riley radiator, symbol of a great name in motoring proudly maintained” and that “enthusiasm for the niceties of engine design is often the first step towards Riley ownership.”
The new 1½-litre Riley has a body-pressing based on that of the Wolseley 1500, suspension like that of the Morris Minor, and a B-series B.M.C. power unit as employed in Morris, Metropolitan, Wolseley, M.G. and Austin cars. The Riley continues to turn its back on that individuality for which it used to be famous. That notwithstanding, it should be a very interesting little vehicle from the performance point of view.
The four-cylinder 73 by 89 mm. (1,489 c.c.) engine is used in twin-carburetter, high-compression form, the Corporation claiming 68 b.h.p. at 5,400 r.p.m. — the carburetters are S.U. and the compression-ratio 8.3 to 1. The gearbox has a high third gear, like that of the Wolseley 1500, the ratios being 13.56, 8.25, 5.12 and 3.73 to 1. Girling brakes are used, 9 in. by 2¼ in. at the front, 8 in. by 1½ in. at the back. The interior appointments are reminiscent of the Wolseley 1500, with leather duo-tone upholstery and walnut veneer facia and door cappings. The radiator grille serves to remind us to refer to the car as Riley.
Suspension is independent at the front only, by torsion-bars and wishbones, and steering is rack-and-pinion, a combination that gave the Issigonis Morris Minor its reputation for outstanding handling qualities. Disc wheels are shod with 5.00 by 14 Dunlop tubeless tyres and equipment includes rev.-counter, oil gauge, water thermometer and fuel gauge, as well as a speedometer with trip and total mileometers, pile carpets, bucket front seats, heater and ventilator, and screen-washers, etc., with radio and whitewall tyres as extras. Single or two-tone finish is optional. The chassis dimensions are identical to those of the Wolseley 1500 but the Riley One-Point-Five body is an inch longer, an inch narrower and ¼ in. lower. The weight is given as just over 18¼ cwt. The petrol tank holds seven gallons.
A maximum speed of 90 m.p.h. is claimed, with “a possible 80 m.p.h.” in third gear. This sounds generous performance for a well-equipped car costing only £863 17s. after purchase tax has been met. We look forward with keen anticipation to testing the new Riley One-Point-Five. — W.B.