A-Z Of Marques No 60: Riley

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

The marque: Once synonymous with speed and style. Born in Coventry, 1898.

The marque: Once synonymous with speed and style. Born in Coventry, 1898.

The history: Voiturettes and tricycles made until 1907, when production of four-wheelers with 1-litre, V-twin engines began in earnest. By 1914 a four-cylinder 2.9-litre car was in production. In the 1920s and 1930s cars such as the Nine made Riley's name in racing, and innovative engineering became a feature, especially in engine design. Technical enterprise was not sufficient to save the company, though, which was bought by Morris in 1938. The Riley 1.5- and 2.5-litre saloons remained distinctive products, however, with attractive, low-slung styling complementing their entertaining twin-cam power units. The 1953 Riley Pathfinder was the last of the breed to have a proper Riley engine - by the end of the 1950s they had become badged versions of other Austin/Morris staples, those two companies having merged to form the British Motor Corporation. Thus the Riley Elf was a type of Mini, the Riley Kestrel a Morris 1100, and so on. By the end of the 1960s any equity in the brand had been extracted and the new British Leyland had no use for the old lozenge badge; the last Riley was made in 1969. When BMW bought Rover Group in the 1990s there was talk of reviving Riley, but nothing came of it. The name is still owned by BMW.

Defining model: 1.5-litre RMA of 1946.

They say: "As old as the industry".

We say: As old as the hills.

Search for used cars