Nomenclature

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Sir,

Although any individual motoring enthusiast is entitled to his loyalty to the make he most favours, I should not like your readers to think that Mr. Martin Jubb is expressing an official view of The Riley Register with regard to the current use of former Riley nomenclature. One must have a sense of proportion.

Riley (Coventry) Ltd, may have originated some of the names they applied to the models they produced from 1927 to 1938, but unless such names are registered as a trade-mark there is no proprietary right in them. Manufacturers obviously do not copy each other’s names whilst they are in current use, but I would suggest that 25 years is not an unreasonable time before such a name is applied to a new model. The British Motor Corporation being the owner of all the assets of the former Riley company is presumably entitled to use them. Actually the name Imp was not registered by Riley (Coventry) Ltd., so that Rootes cannot be prevented from using it, even if B.M.C. thought an objection was justified. The name Alpine was used by Rolls-Royce in 1912, and they don’t seem to have objected to Riley reviving it in 1931.

By the way, the names used by Riley were names of body styles only, and, except for the Imp and Sprite 2-seaters, these bodies could be mounted on various chassis.

With regard to the Lea-Francis-engine design, this was the work of H. Rose, who had previously been employed by Riley on a short contract specifically to design the 1 1/2-litre 4-cylinder engine, embodying the hemispherical head and twin-camshaft features of the Percy Riley designed Nine and Six engines. Your correspondent may not be aware that this design was originated by the Belgian firm of Pipe in 1905, and revived by Dorman of Stafford in 1919. Not even Riley can claim originality in every feature of their splendid cars, although I believe the Riley engine of 1898 was the first to use a mechanically-operated inlet valve and overlapped valve timing.

K.G. Gilling
Chairman, The Riley Register.
London, N.W.3.