The reason I am writing is to inform you that your aura was dimmed somewhat after I read your article “Buying Casually” in the August issue. Rather, tinted green than dimmed, because I am insanely jealous. I have been the proud (to my friends, maniacal) owner of a 1949 2 1/2-litre Riley sedan for two enjoyable, although expensive, years.
Unfortunately the money I had ear-marked for bringing it up to scratch has had to be spent on keeping it on the road. The crankshaft broke a month after I bought it, so the motor’s near-new now. I enjoy going on day trips down the coast, and recently I had the passenger check the speed with a watch against the mile posts. When she said 49 seconds I didn’t believe her (the speedo doesn’t work, you understand) so we double checked and came up with 50 seconds—an effective cruising speed of 70 m.p.h. Considering her age and the atrocious indignities inflicted by my driving, she has still got tons of go—and stop.
The handling I find very good with no qualifications. She exhibits a gentle transition to oversteer and never gives me any bad moments on the Goodyear G8s. I am quite used to the relatively heavy controls although my friends say the amount of effort needed is appalling. Modern cars I find quite distressing with their feather-light controls and I often find myself bumping and thumping along, reassuring myself that it’s only a matter of practice!
If I may, I’d like to offer a few hints to the unwary, although in so doing I feel awfully uppity. If the head ever has to come off, check the head studs for stretch; if the engine or gearbox has to come out, check that the swinging arm just outside the bell housing goes back on at the right angle (I didn’t, and have three broken pull-rods to show for it!).
My car cost $A300, which was perhaps a little inflated at the time, but an immaculate one these days will bring $A1,000. The Riley Club over here is very active and has the spares situation well in hand. Congratulations on your excellent choice of vehicle and may I wish you many happy miles of motoring behind the Blue Diamond. Good luck with your rear axles!