Shopping for a Riley

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Sir,

I was pleased to see your article on Rileys in the November edition, though your tone seems to indicate that you are not at all sure that they are in the “real” cars category. I expect it probably has something to do with your friend Lord Stokes discontinuing the marque or that you have never really forgiven that sticking valve. (Ow! I’ve just bitten my tongue.)

I bought my first 1-1/2 two years ago, a 1948 model which had had £70 spent on the engine 3,000 miles since, or so the schoolmaster owner reckoned! It had an MoT but no tax, so was bought as seen and without trial for £35. A new roof set me back £18, some work on the rear-wheel arches and boot floor £14, and I now have a patchwork quilt Riley, more primer than black cellulose. I was lucky to have a friend in the scrap trade who had a similar model in fairly good mechanical nick languishing in his yard, and this changed hands for a fiver but stayed where it was, so I go and chip bits off it as and when I need them, though there isn’t much left now!

The landlord of my “local” told me of another, an RME this time, which I also purchased for a similar sum and deposited in the yard of another scrap merchant friend of mine. (I’ve always run my cars on a shoe-string.) Shortly after the purchase of the RME a valve dropped in my motor, so I now have an RME-engined RMA. Although the output is supposed to be the same, I’m sure the latter engine has the edge and with the higher back-axle ratio is quite sweet at 70 or so. She does about 80 on the speedo.

A mechanic bod at the local Rootes dealer (they still have pictures of post-war s.v. Minxes and Talbots painted on their old showroom walls!) collared me a few months ago, a very worried man. He had taken a quite reasonable 1-1/2 in part exchange on some modern rot box and didn’t know what to do with it. (Well yer feel daft, like Bonny and Clyde, aren’t ‘yer?) So the wife’s Sheepskin coat fund dipped to the tune of £25 and I’m not really forgiven yet. She still refuses to acknowledge its presence in the garage, save for cursing it for being in the way. I mentioned the fact that it could do with a new roof after showing her your article, and she went strangely quiet.

However, she quite enjoys driving old No. 1, so when I suggest garaging it to catch up on some overdue repairs when the tax runs out she’ll probably be glad of a similar car to drive.

In a village near here live a couple of bods (within 20 yards of each other) who each have an RME and an RMA in roadworthy condition, though only two of the four are on the road, like only one of mine is at present on the road. One of the chaps has scrapped several of them too, and has quite a few new spares, gaskets and the like, so we’re not so bad off that way. Anyway, if any of you twits from “dahn sarf” have any money to chuck away, like ,£200, £250, £300 (typical prices in November ads in Motor Sport), I may be tempted to part with one of mine!

Thanks for an excellent magazine.

C. A. MATSON – West Ayton.

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