The Sporting Register’s final monthly meeting for the year was very well attended with over 70 members and friends attending a dinner at the Drouin Golf Club. In a change to the usual buffet service, each table was served a plate of appetisers to share, then for main course, tables received additional large plates of salad, roast vegetables and then chicken and beef accompanied by a gravy boat. Plenty to go around together with an option of pasta for the vegetarians made for a pleasant change to the scant offerings at last month’s meeting.
The Club’s General Business was dispensed with proficiently by Ray and his deputies. It’s hard not to miss the fact that at this time of year, the Club’s calendar is jam-packed with events on almost every weekend as well as some mid-week offerings for those with the time available. If you missed the meeting, please check your Idle Chatter for details of coming events.
Our display car this month was Ian Maud’s recently acquired 2.5 litre Riley RMB. Built in 1950, this rakish Old English Cream sedan has caused Ian all sorts of grief as he labored to bring the hydro-mechanical brakes, torsion bar suspension and ancillary systems up to road-worthy condition. Thankfully, the previous owner had already restored the leather and walnut interior, and the chassis and timber-framed bodywork were in quite presentable condition.
Ian gave us an illustrated presentation of the Riley marque which began in the 1880s with William Riley and his sons diversifying their weaving company into bicycles, then cycle cars with their self-designed and built internal combustion engine. A factory was established in the early 1900s, but production almost stalled as work on establishing a patent for the removable automobile wheel consumed their energy. Between the wars Riley was very successful with both the Riley 9 model and its venture into motorsport by entering Le Mans in 1934. In 1938 Lord Nuffield purchased Riley and integrated it into the Nufflield Organisation which was later to become BMC.
During the Second World War, Riley factories were given over to the manufacture of munitions and as such were regularly targeted for bombing by the Germans. Post-war rebuilding was undertaken, but severely hampered by the limited supply of steel and components. However, in 1948 Riley released the new RMA model to critical acclaim. The RM series cars were endowed with good performance and luxury interiors. In the RMB the 2.5 litre twin cam engine developed 100bhp and when mated to the 4-speed gearbox was capable of 100mph. They were popular with royalty as well as the police, and raced and rallied throughout England and the Continent. In 1950 Riley was combined with MG within the Nuffield Organisation and construction moved to Abingdon resulting in both marques sharing the same paint colours. In 1952 Nuffield merged with Austin to form the British Motor Corporation. Riley was positioned between MG and Wolseley and most future Riley models became little more than badge-engineered versions of Austin/Morris designs before the marque slipped into obscurity with the collapse of the British auto industry.