With reference to the several correspondents wiho have commented on my purported fault-findings of my Morris Oxford 1920 saloon I would like to add my story was not intended to be a chronicle of unreliability, but I was purely musing on the past, the highlights of which were the fun and uncertainties attending motoring in those days. The fact that faults materialised were in my view not inherent but resulted from lack of proper maintenance and untoward encounters with the scenery. In no way was my account intended to be a reflection on the work of “W.R.M.” on the contrary, I have the greatest admiration for the products produced by the firm and with this end in view I have a few observations to make concerning my present mode of transport which is a Riley 1-1/2-litre.
I have noticed in your columns that the 1-1/2 has been referred to in the past tense but I would like to point out I regard these cars very much in the present. It is so completely soundly built on a generous chassis and has the virtue of sensible bumpers anchored on to the frame with the result that untidy parkers who motor in the up-to-date medium come off worst when they encounter me. After eleven years the coachwork is still as good as ever with the original cellulose. Since this car was manufactured by Morris Motors (now B.M.C.) I must fall into line with some of your commentators, therefore I have the following criticisms to make. The exhaust valves last too long, the pistons never seem to slap, and my garage would have to shut if they relied on me for oil. The waterpump never leaks, the S.U. curb. has never been recorked; I don’t know if I’ve a fuel pump, ! never seem to find anything to do to the engine not even to adjust the tappets. The only thing I can find to do is to clean the polished aluminium rocker boxes. The engine can take an excessive amount of ignition advance without pinking, on premium (to increase the power). The doors always shut properly and I have never had the pleasure of refixing a door knob that fell off. The mileage counter shows 75-1/2 thousand and no cable has yet broken. Oil pressure 60 lb. psi. never varies. The water temperature gauge now works (I did endless pleasure repairing that). The ammeter and petrol gauge always register, the chrome platers are on a losing thing waiting for me. The locks, fittings, nuts and bolts always tight. The engine always starts, never stops involuntarily, lamps always work, the wipers always a clean swerp every time – why go on?
The front damping layout was in my opinion unsatisfactory and it took me some time to correct it (modified on later models). The principle that i.f.s. suspension should be damped only on the return seemed to me to be unsound as this gives the impression of the front end being floating while the double-acting damped rear end was very solid. I experimented with several apparent double-acting telescopics, but all these were of the same pattern negligible resistantce on the upward stroke and resistance only on the return. I toyed with the idea of Konis but apart from the expense it seemed to me to be unsatisfactory to have to remove a support to make an adjustment. In the end I settled for a pair of Spax which were adjustable and genuinely double-acting, and a few shillings more expensive than the standard fittings and after 15,000 miles still giving every satisfaction. The front end is now relatively stiff and matches the rear and adjustment is simplicity itself with the advantage that I now press down on the bumper to ascertain the degree of damping available without a road test. Apart from a set of service silencers and removal of hot-spotting the car is otherwise standard.
The endearing feature is of course the handling on the roads, especially cornering, the driving position is excellent. The rack and pinion though heavy initially has been made considerably easier by inserting grease into the rack assembly every 5,000 miles instead of at 30,000 as the book. Moving through an arc of 180 deg. the wheel attends to all normal bends and corners, whilst you may, if you wish, turn this large car with one sweep in the road. A sudden jerk on the wheel is instantly answered and has saved my neck a few tunes as low-geared steering systems have come at me at speed. The faster you go the more it settles down on the road. The pedal positions are adequate and it is annoying that I don’t have to rest my foot on the clutch pedal. The gear-shift falls to the head, first gear always engages, although the travel is too long. I have no complaints about the safety of the Girling hydro-mechanical brakes. The car consistently performs well … maximum speed? I haven’t the faintest idea; economy – genuinely over 30 on the max. It’s certainly no rattle trap although the odd sound appears after a hard days’ drive. You can see and feel the tradition and influence of the old Coventry Riley throughout its build, but one thing it does not have in common – the body is a much more soundly constructed affair. What I find difficult to understand is the comparative cheapness of these cars in the market, quite fine examples can be purchased at realistic prices.
Of the 1.5 I have no knowledge, only to say in rallies I’ve been left as if I wasn’t moving at all.
May I conclude with an up-to-date anecdote. A friend of mine possesses a company Oxford Traveller with 25,000 miles on the indicator and six months old. Apart from careful running-in initially, this vehicle receives a tremendous hammering. The driver has not one adverse opinion to make on the handling, driving position or performance. The head had not been off and no troubles had been reported. It does not appear, looking at it, to be a good road holder with its lengthy tail, but I was treated to a spirited ride on a dampish day where the indicated speed approached 80. What caused me some concern was that we went into a fairish bend at this lick. Needess to say we did not depart from the chosen course, I was relieved to note.
I am, Yours, etc..
Whitechurch, Glam. – F. H. H. Buen.