Motor Sport readers' survey continued

Riley 1.5, Wolseley 1500

Is service satisfactory? 70% of Riley 1.5 and Wolseley 1500 owners found the service satisfactory, 18.8% are dissatisfied and 8.5% carry out their own servicing.

If car is modified give brief details. The most popular modification for these two models is undoubtedly the front anti-roll bar which is fitted by no less than 21.5%. Many people mentioned that this is an essential modification. Different makes of shock-absorber have been fitted by 8.2%, many people fitting the Speedwell suspension kit. Few radical changes have been made to engines, 5.1% having the compression ratio raised and 5.4% carrying out other cylinder head modifications. A modified exhaust system was fitted by 8.8%, a different silencer by 7.9% and pancake air cleaners by 3.3%. Of Wolseley 1500 owners only 0.9% have converted to twin SUs but 2.4% have fitted alternative needles in the single carburetter. Harder brake linings have been fitted by 1.5% and a brake booster by 2.1%.

Engine. No engine trouble has been experienced by 63.1% of Riley 1.5 and Wolseley 1500 owners. The “B” series BMC engine seems to have a good record for reliability and seems to cover quite high mileages before requiring overhaul. Like so many other engines this one suffers from a number of minor faults which can be irritating. Water pumps have been changed by 3.6%, silencers by 3.9%, valves by 3%, and tappets by 1.8%. Carburetter tuning is complained of by 5.2%, several people complaining that garages were unable to synchronise twin SUs. Excessive noise from the tappets is a feature of this engine and 9.5% mentioned it as being irritating.

“Decoked at 17,000 miles. Found gasket in upside dawn.”

“Excellent engine, a beautiful piece of machinery.”

“The tappets are very noisy. I did 400 miles before found I was only running on one carburetter.”

“I have just decoked the engine and found that the head had been fitted with one odd inlet valve, 13/8 in diameter instead of the correct 11/2 in. Seems to be a valve from a Wolseley 1500.” 

“Untouched at 75,000 miles—head never lifted and going perfectly.”

“Could he less noisy, otherwise no complaints.”

“Decoked and head shaved at 55,000. Nothing replaced and condition very good.”

Clutch. No clutch trouble has been experienced by 78.3% of Riley 1.5 and Wolseley 1500 owners. Few people have had trouble with the clutch, 3.6% changing the carbon thrust bearing at fairly low mileages while only 5.5% have required relining. Clutch judder is complained of by 9.1% and slip by 2.1%.

Gearbox. 78.6% of Riley 1.5 and Wolseley 1500 owners had no gearbox trouble. Despite this good percentage a number of people criticised the design of this gearbox, 8.5% remarking on poor synchromesh, especially on second gear when changing down from third. Difficulty in engaging first and reverse gears was reported by 12.1%, while 7.9% felt that the box is too noisy. Another fault reported by 9.1% is the tendency to jump out of third gear. Of the 7.3% who have had new gearboxes fitted a large proportion have done so because of this trouble with third gear.

“Perfect gearbox—only failing is difficulty in engaging first and reverse-gears.”

“Jumped out of third gear—new gearbox fitted.”

“Good gearbox—difficult to engage first gear and too easy to engage reverse by mistake.”

“Very occasionally jumped out of third gear on overrun otherwise very pleasant.”

Brakes. No braking troubles have been encountered by 78.9%. Apart front general comments on fierceness and grabbing, mainly when cold, which is reported by 4.2% and comments on fade and lack of power made by 4.2% the brakes have given little trouble. Master cylinders have been changed by 1.8%, drums by 1.5% and wheel cylinders by 4.2%. The handbrake linkage gave trouble on 2.4%. An unusual complaint was mentioned by 1.2% who had trouble with static on the radio caused by the brakes.

Steering. No steering trouble has been experienced by 49.4%. As with most rack and pinion steering layouts very little trouble has been experienced. A general complaint was that the steering rattled badly on rough roads. 6.7% made this complaint but several people having fitted a modified steering damper seem to be getting better results. A “clonk” from the steering on acute turns was mentioned by 1.2%. A prematurely worn steering rack is mentioned by 3.6%, leaks from the rubber gaiters were reported by 1.5%, and a further 1.5% found that the front wheel alignment was incorrect on delivery.

Suspension. No suspension trouble has been encountered by 85.7%. A complaint voiced by many people was the excessive amount of roll on cornering. This is emphasised by the very large percentage who have fitted front anti-roll bars. Shock-absorber trouble has been experienced by a fair number, 11.5% requiring replacement dampers, 3.9% suffering from loose dampers and 1.5% being troubled with leaks. Torsion bar troubles were experienced by 4.2%, mostly from owners whose car “listed” badly on delivery and required re-setting. New wheel bearings have been lined by 4.5%, broken springs replaced by 1.5% and suspension bushes by 1.5%.

Instuments. No instrument trouble has been experienced by 52.1%. The speedometer cable is, as usual, the main subject of failure on instruments, 26.4% of cables being changed, while 10.9% of speedometer heads have been replaced. The petrol gauge failed on 10.3%, the rev-counter head on 4.2%, the oil pressure gauge on 2.8%, water temperature gauge on 4.5%, and rev-counter cable on 2.1%.

Electrical. No electrical trouble has been encountered by 55.5%. The battery has been changed on 19.1% of the survey cars, usually at low mileages. The electric petrol pump has been replaced on 11.5%, the dynamo on 4.2%, wiper motor on 3.0%, winking indicators on 2.7% and the starter on 5.5%.

Rear axle. No rear axle trouble has been experienced by 83.6%. Oil seals have failed on 7.0%, 2.7% of differentials have been replaced and 2.1% have changed complete axle units. Excessive axle whine is complained of by 27.9%, several people having the axle changed because of this, with little or no improvement.

Bodywork. No bodywork troubles were experienced by 21.2% of Riley 1.5 and Wolseley 1500 drivers. The body is obviously one of the least satisfactory parts of this car as the low percentage of satisfied owners suggests. Water leaks in various parts of the car, Mainly the window surrounds and boot lid, were reported by 34.6%, rusting of the chromium plating by 19.1%, and rusting and deterioration of the paintwork by 15.7%. Ill fitting doors were complained of by 14.2%, faulty quarter-light catches by 3.9%, faulty door locks by 10.0%, faulty bonnet catches by 2.4%. Broken driver’s seats were found by 4,2% and various unidentified rattles by 5.2%.

” Bonnet would not open when new. Dealer opened it with a tyre lever. Driver’s seat collapsed.”

“Bad paint finish, resprayed at 8,000 miles.”

“The first rainstorm I was in the boot filled with water. The agent just laughed and. suggested I purchased a boat as they were all like it !”

“Leakage onto feet corrected by drilling drainage holes near bonnet hinges. Leakage into boot corrected by removing rubber plugs in floor.”

“Front doors would not shut—poor paintwork. Front seat fixings bad.”

“Several bad paint blemishes rectified under guarantee. Now blistering and cracking. Both front doors re-hung under guarantee, but all doors now rattling.”

Tyres. Dunlop tyres are fitted as standard equipment and are fitted to 66.4% of the survey cars; Michelin ‘X’ are fitted to 23.9%, Firestone to 2.7%, Pirelli to 1.2%, Goodyear to 0.9%, Avon to 0.3%, John Bull to 0.3%, India to 0.3%.

Would you buy this car again ? Yes, 70%. No, 3 %