TRYING A ” SECONDHANDER ” IV. -A RECONDITIONED RILEY NINE.
IT is not so many years ago that one heard a great deal of talk amongst motor traders about what
became generally known as the “used car problem.” It was a subject which was constantly debated and discussed by trade associations both in this country and America. Because practically every new car sale entailed a “trade in” of an old vehicle, whatever its condition and age, and an excessive allowance had to be made on it in part exchange, dealers found themselves overwhelmed with stocks of motorcars which atracted few buyers, and which they themselves did not want. And so they remained dusty, neglected and generally dilapidated, a constant burden and bugbear to the unfortunate dealer.
More recently, however, various firms have realised that to treat second handers as a necessary evil is an extremely short-sighted policy since the buying public are perfectly ready to purchase a used machine provided they can be assured that they are getting something sound and trustworthy. It is the fear of being “sold a pup ” that has contributed largely to the problem of the used car.
One such concern which has tackled the matter in the right way is F. G. Smith (Motors) Ltd., of Goodmayes, Ilford. They are definitely specialists in second hand cars. Every vehicle, whether it is only shop-soiled or ha’; done thousands of miles service, is subjected to a proper road test and careful scrutiny before going in the stock rooms. Engines, transmission and all important components are examined, and a large and competent workshops staff see that nothing faulty or worn is allowed to pass. To show that this reconditioning process is not merely superficial it may be mentioned that the re-boring of cylinders tomes all in the day’s work of this concern.
Finally, when the car is sold, the purchaser receives a written ” same-as-makers ” guarantee. Naturally, it would be unreasonable to expect the prices fixed by Messrs. Smith to be as low as one finds anywhere, in view of the work put into their cars beforehand ; nevertheless, their prices are not excessive by any means. Last month we paid a visit to their showrooms at Goodmayes, and were invited to walk round and choose any car we fancied from their stock. We selected a 4-seater Riley “9.” Having filled the tank with petrol and checked the oil level we found the engine started at the first ” blip ” of the starter button. After our experience with many ” bargains ” we have tried in the past, this minor point of good behaviour appeared as a pleasant indication. We were further impressed, before
driving away, by receiving no injunctions to ” treat it gently, because such-and-such a thing wasn’t quite right.” And so we set off on a 200-miles test run. The Riley ” 9 ” engine has always been a powerful little unit, and this one was no exception. Moreover its valve gear was no noisier than one finds with a new model. A point which was noticeable, particularly in view of the fact that the car was a secondhander, was the remarkably good tick-over. The engine idled at a very low r.p.m., and fired perfectly evenly and with no semblance of lumpiness, both when it had just been started up and at the conclusion of a fast run over a period of about three hours. Further, this slow running, we found, was not obtained to the detriment of all-out speed or acceleration. There were no flat spots or spitting when one jammed the throttle open wide, and it was obvious that considerable care had been taken by Messrs. Smith in tuning the carburetter to get these results.
In the matter of maximum speed, we judged the car to be well up to the average, while the same remark applies to petrol consumption. The brakes were good and better adjusted than one sometimes finds with a brand new car, and the 4-speed gearbox, with constant mesh helical-teethed third speed would have satisfied the most fastidious. As far as the chassis was concerned we found only two points for criticism. One was that the clutch was far too fierce—a matter for adjustment only—while the back axle emitted a hum on the overrun. Otherwise the car performed perfectly satisfactorily, and was obviously several degrees better in general mechanical condition than the average secondhander of the same make, type and year.
The finish of the Riley (blue with black wheels), would have been approved of by all but the proudest of the car-proud, and with the exception of the hood, which was a little shabby, the equipment, lighting, tyres, etc., were very good.