I have always believed that inside every Riley made after the side valve era there is a sports or racing car just waiting to be released. When you consider their superb twin cam engine which was available with four or six cylinders (and eight if you include Autovia) and in 9, 12, 14, 15 and 16 horsepower variants plus their stiff chassis, good brakes and positive steering let alone the considerable range of body styles, it is hardly surprising that in the old days before these cars started to rise in value, when a body fell into disrepair, as well as being an attractive proposition it was much easier and cheaper to build a special than to restore a factory built saloon or tourer.
Whilst doing that today might be frowned on in some quarters, if it hadn’t happened in the past we wouldn’t have the wide range of road and track Riley specials that exists today. Inevitably they come in all shapes and sizes and also in a wide range of build quality, style and performance but they will all be cherished and enjoyed by their legion of owners.
Without wishing to cast aspersions on any other Riley specials I think it is fair to say that this particular example must be regarded as being at the top end of the field and it is certainly one of the best cars of its type which I have ever seen. The sheer build quality and level of attention to detail is quite simply remarkable and if I tell you that I have added up the bills for the money spent on it since 2007 and the total comes to over £91,000 excluding the purchase price of the underlying car then you can get some idea of what to expect.
What we have is a 9 hp chassis and running gear (which originally carried a saloon body according to a buff log book in the file) which has been shortened and fitted with a tuned 12/4 engine rebuilt by Rob Cobden with a balanced crank, shell bearings, larger valves, mild race camshaft, lightened flywheel, water pump, external oil filter, twin 1 ½ SUs, Scintilla Vertex magneto and a four branch exhaust driving a Graham Whitehouse rebuilt preselector gearbox. This is clothed in a really superbly made alloy sports body with a machine turned dashboard carrying rebuilt original instruments, new leather seats, a new windscreen plus new tonneau and hood all sitting on new wheels and Blockley tyres!
Suffice to say it drives every bit as well as it looks with precise steering, good suspension and brakes and with an estimated 75+ bhp on tap it is no slouch.
Perhaps I should apologise for the frequent use of superlatives but this really is a very good car and I have no hesitation in recommending that you come and have a look at it!
P.S. There is a comprehensive file which includes VSCC eligibility documents in the current and previous owners' names as well as some useful literature such as an instruction book and maintenance manuals.