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Riley


 


 

There are some companies that while producing good cars, only occasionally come up with a thoroughbred. The Riley marque engaged in successful motor sport and built a few beautiful sports cars. However, their stock cars were good but not quite thoroughbred. My first encounters with a Riley was as a small boy. My father then had a bright red TT sports model that had a supercharger. He drove this at breakneck speeds confident that this model of car had raced in the TT. My childhood memories are interspersed with various expeditions through hedges, collisions and so forth. If late for anything there was always the stock reply..."its OK its supercharged". This became a household catchphrase. One day the battery was flat and I was placed in the car to jiggle the levers. Dad fired up using the armstrong method, I panicked and somehow ran him over!

Later, my own car collection was maintained by a real engineering genius, the late Mike Parker of Danbury, Essex. He could fix anything from a Bugatti to a vintage Rolls....that is, except Rileys....he had had an unfortunate experience as a boy after being given a lift by a Riley driver. We never did dare to ask him about the details!

As a consequence I turned down the chance of buying a Brooklands model, but did eventually purchase a real Riley thoroughbred, a 2.5 roadster. This was bought from Peter Ashdown, the retired racing driver, also of Danbury. True to his word, Mike Parker would not even allow me to park this wonderful car on his driveway and maintenance was done elsewhere. This car in most respects equalled the finest that Europe could offer. The slight lack of finesse was balanced by excellent handling and performance with the confidence that this was really a rugged individual. It felt much more like a pre-war American classic and one was always a bit surprised to get out and see the Riley grill!


Riley TT