Whilst the golden period of the Riley motor car was the years between 1926-1938, the Riley family had been involved in the manufacture of motor cars since 1898 when the first car was built by a young Percy Riley. At that time the family company was producing bicycles and then motor bikes and tri-cars before the first production car was made around 1905.
The family’s reputation for sound, reliable cars was soon well established. Production recommenced after the war in 1919 with the Side Valve range, however during these years Percy Riley was working on a new light car, and in 1926 the prototype overhead valve, twin camshaft, 4 cyl. 1098 cc Riley ‘9’ was introduced. Over the next 11 years many thousands were sold world wide in many forms with the engine works and assembly factory in full production in the midst of the depression years. The Riley ‘9’ was an acclaimed market leader setting new standards and fashions and was soon taken up by the racing fraternity as a car that could be race tuned to astonishing levels.
Riley went from strength to strength during this time developing engines of various sizes and layout while body styles ranged from the sports cars to stylish saloons. It was perhaps Riley’s desire to be all things to all men that in the end over-extended the company and in 1938 the company went into receivership and Riley passed into the hands of Nuffield.
Riley rose again after WW2 in the shape of the RM series, in itself a beautiful range of motor cars. The final stage of the Riley story was with various forms of BMC sedans manufactured into the late 1960’s.