The Brooklands Riley

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Sir,

The March issue of your always enjoyable magazine, which I have read without missing a single copy since 1927, brought an added bonus in the guise of four pages devoted to “the Brooklands Speed Model Riley Nine”, a 1928 March IV version of which I owned for two to three years about 1931-33. This car, registration number PG 472, was purchased from Jack Bartlett of Pembridge Villas who had apparently acquired it some time after it had competed in the “Brighton Motor Rally”, July 4th, 1929, it being illustrated on page 71 of The Autocar for July 12th 1929, being described in the accompanying article in the following terms:

“A saucy Riley Nine Brooklands model carried a tiny but roomy coupe body, the doors being specially wide and a glass panel being mounted in the roof.”

It was entered by Mr. F. M. Cook. It may have been the car you have mentioned in column 3 of page 300, where you state that “a girl used one equipped with what we would now term a hard top for an important Concours d’Elegance”.

Certainly PG 472 had a detachable hard-top with sliding glass doors to bolt on to the normal doors, a sliding roof (not glass, As I remember) an openable rear window, and loads of gadgets, without which the car would have weighed a lot less, although I doubt if it would have run that much better, as it was a very unreliable car.

Twice I competed in it at Shelsley Walsh on the first occasion the clutch decided to slip as we left the start on the following year I learned that the gear ratios were not ideal.

One of the competing cars in the 1931 Shelsley hill climb was another Brooklands Riley driven by C. G. M. Boote, probably the one you have illustrated with a Cambridge (VE) registration.

A friend of mine in those days was John Graham, an airline pilot, who owned the Brooklands Riley previously and successfully raced by C. R. Whitcroft (? registration number PK 2571). He entered this for a mountain race at Brooklands in about 1933 and I went with him as his (riding) mechanic. In retrospect he would have done far better without my 6 ft. 4 1/2 in. (11 stone) body to absorb so many b.h.p.!! We did not figure in the results, but had a very enjoyable time. Perhaps we were rather daunted by being in a race dominated by Whitney Straight, whose famous Maserati, and a suitable entourage Of mechanics, made our efforts seem very puny!!

My experiences with Rileys ended after I sold PG 472 and lost all trace of it, purchased a Red label Bentley (KC 7955) which is still in existence, and later moved to a chain-drive Nash NE 2585 (later BOH 7) and then on to Frazer Nash BMWs, type 45, RV 9595 (now broken up), type 321 (EXF 1) a Render bodied drop-head originally owned by RAF official Col. A. H. Loughborough and then (logically) on to Bristols, a 401 followed by my present 405 which I bought in 1962.

Worthing RALPH J. T. HEWITT