advanced search
To search within this site simply put in the model name,chassis number etc 

Riley Cars  1925-28  11.9hp,


Models Available :- This engine size 11.9hp was introduced during   1924  for the 1925 season to replace the 10.8hp using a  larger 1645cc side valve engine. At this time mainly tourer body styles were popular with a number of these early cars surviving and being driven each summer  also assisted by a now seven gallon fuel tank allowing serious mileage.

1925- 1927  11.9 h.p. five  seat De Luxe Tourer

These  post WW1 cars survive with this one RW2676  having four/five  seats and looks  pretty original internally.  Sidevalve engine no. 3735 ( 1645cc. and now on 19" studded artillery wheels. All pictures by Cost £460 when new in 1925 often plus tax so a considerable expense.

A bench type front seat remarkably surviving and below a glass drivers partiition as in the Coach /Laundalette/Coup de ville  etc. Still retains the right hand hand brake  and gear shift as on the much earlier cars but now inside

1925- 1927  11.9 h.p.Saloon

11hp saloon using artillery wheels like the San Remo priced at £495 . The engine was now uprated to a 12hp and producing 42 hp but still sold as the 11. For this year seventeen model variants were listed and this is the version sold as the Saloon de Luxe, Four Seater de Luxe and by 1925  as the Five Seater Tourer de Luxe from the days when glass and a roof was a luxury in cars.  The later years again used these horizontal door handles and were called 'Glass Enclosed Tourers' by 1927


1925- 1928  11.9 h.p..Saloon De Luxe

11hp saloon using artillery wheels like the San Remo priced at £495 . The engine was now uprated to a 12hp and producing 42 hp but still sold as the 11. For this year seventeen model variants were listed one version sold as the Saloon de Luxe, then  Four Seater de Luxe and by 1925  as the Five Seater Tourer de Luxe from the days when glass and a roof was a luxury in cars.  The later years again used these horizontal door handles and were called 'Glass Enclosed Tourers' by 1927 Illustrated on the 1920's page as an advert


1925- 1927  11.9 h.p..Coupe


1925- 1928  11.9 h.p.4/5 Seat Tourer

Features:-  no inner glass partition as on the de luxe, coup de ville etc, artillery wheels, horizontal door handles, non glass windows ie part of the tonneau.

'ES 7436' First registered in Perthshire, laid-up during WW2 and from 1953-1967, known to have resided in Auchterarder soon after the end of WW2. Some of the history file suggests the Riley was serviced by the supplying garage up until the late 1940s,logically indicating one owner through to 1948. Notes also show the car to have been laid-up both during the war and then from 1953 until 1967, at which point the original fittings and trim were retained, but the car repainted and returned to the road. Between 1971 and 2012 the paper trail confirms the Riley was MOT tested and taxed for at least four months every year, during which period it appears to have accrued a further 12,200 miles. ( precis from H&H sale info )



1925- 1927  11.9 h.p..2 door 6 Seater

YF1839 This is labelled when for sale as both 11.9 and 11/40. The age puts it as 11.9 so somebody please say. Rescued rebodied and substantially rebuilt by sidevalve experts in the early 80’s



1925- 1927  11.9 h.p..Saloon Landaulette


1926- 1927  11.9 h.p..Coupe Fixed Top


1926  11.9 h.p .Coupe de Ville

Coupé de Ville cars had the driver fully exposed to the weather with no cover, no doors, and sometimes no windshield. As speed and distances travelled increased, windshields were added to protect the driver from dirt from the unpaved roads and dung from draught animals. Later models also included doors to the driving compartment as on this Riley


1926- 1927  11.9 h.p.Foleshill Tourer


1926- 1928  11.9 h.p..Four Door Coach

The four door Coach model  another model with a sole survivor known FY8825 Sliding glass windows as in the laundaulette.  A  little more upmarket with a fully enclosed saloon model designed to be driven by families, and not their chauffeurs. 1926 @ £395, 1927/8 @£375,



Another picture by Cliff Jones click here for supersize image

From Cliff Jones @ the 2008 Riley Register Rally click link for large version


1926- 1927  11.9 h.p..Glass Enclosed Tourer


1926  11.9 h.p..4 Door Special Tourer


1926- 1928  11.9 h.p. Seat Glass Enclosed


1926- 1927  11.9 h.p. 2/3 Seater

1926 Sports in advert format very similar to the 11/40 version


 1927  11.9 h.p.charged Sport

The new 'Sports' model was 11/50/65 on the 9ft 6 chassis with a two seater body at £550 or chassis only @ £450







Article by the Riley Family of the origins of the company from Midland Telegraph December 5th 1930

HOW COVENTRY MADE MOTORING HISTORY. The Riley story provides one of Coventry's best examples of a firm which has risen to great occasion through difficulties and narrowly-averted tragedy, through the rise and decline of the weaving trade, through the boom and severe competition of the manufacture of pedal cycles, to the final production of a first-rate motor car, which is in strong demand. This is the story of Coventry's Industrial  progress throughout the ages, and it is told in tabloid form of the firm which saw birth in a small house in St. Nicholas' Street, with its large upper windows so typical of Coventry weaving structures of the middle of the past century, and culminating in the existing large works at Holbrooks.
 The Riley concern was flourishing in Coventry when the trimming and weaving trades were among its, most staple industries. In the city and its surrounding districts women and children worked in their homes while their men folk were at work in the mine or on the land. The Education Acts of 1870-75 and 1880, of immense national importance though they were, sounded the death knell of these old trades, as child labour was no longer available in the quantities required. Very cheap labour was still available in Gerry many and Austria, however and this Continental competition gradually became more pronounced, while Coventry's weaving and trimming trades found themselves unable to meet the intense competition from the Continent. In 1870, Mr. William Riley (who, though nearly 80 years of age, still retains a keen mental grasp of the affairs of the Riley ) had just taken over the control of his fathers warehouse. He was very quick to see the doom which was slowly settling upon the family's business, and he made the forecast: The hand looms of Austria will beat the looms of Coventry, not because they weave better  for our weavers are the finest in the world, but because of our changing conditions. I can see no scope in this business . . . . . . . . Not only did Mr. Riley live to see his prophesy fulfilled. but also to see his sons take a leaf out of his own book, and endeavour to anticipate the future to an even greater extent than his own caution dictated to be advisable. Looking out for a new scope for his activities, Mr. Riley turned his attention to the cycle boom which was being fostered by Coventry's pioneer work in this realm of light transport, and he bought up the cycle business of Bonnick and Co. So convinced was he that the cycle was one of the trades of the future that he threw his whole energies into it, and in 1896 he closed down the erstwhile flourishing weaving business of William Riley in order to devote his sole attention to bicycle manufacture. In this work he was assisted by his brother, the late Mr. Herbert Riley, who died in 1927, dismal prophesies as to the future of the weaving trade were all too adequately confirmed, and he had the satisfaction of seeing his cycle business providing a retreat for the rainy day which had submerged so many of his more experienced fellow weavers of former days. In 1896 the name of Bonnick and Co. was changed to The Riley Cycle Co.. Ltd. and the capital was increased to meet the growing demands of the cycle market, which was now in a fairly flourishing condition. Even before this date cycle manufacturers had realised the need for some mechanical means of propulsion, and an endeavour was made to the Riley works to perfect a machine which resembled a huge clockspring. It was intended to assist the cyclist in hills. and was so managed that the spring would be wound up again while the machine was running down the next decline. Nothing tangible appears to have developed from this novel idea—the kind of thing one would almost expect to find in a city of watchmakers. The arrival in Coventry streets of a Belle tricycle and the Pennington motor-raft in 1896 aroused the keen interest of the young Riley element. It is not an official part of the Riley story, but it has frequently been stated that Mr. William Riley became quite , alarmed at the " crazy " ideas of his sons,' who were anxious to turn his sedate cycle factory into an experimental shop for motor engines, which were not being made in England at that time, and which were only enjoying a hazardous existence on the Continent.

RILEY CAR IN 1898 What extent it was due to paternal assistance or to personal enthusiasm way be a matter of opinion, but the fact remains that in 1898—only two years after the Daimler Company was formed--Mr Percy Riley had produced the first Riley Car, every portion of which was built in the Riley Cycle Company's works to his own designs. The engine of this car had at least one outstanding feature - it had a mechanically operated inlet valve in place of the automatic inlet, operated by the suction of the engine, which was the  general but inefficient practice at that time. It is claimed to have been the first time this device had been successfully operated in automobile engine design. At all events it later became the stumbling block of a continental firm who sought to impose a patent royalty on the use of mechanically - operated valves in England.
In those days some very primitive methods were adopted of controlling the engine speed. One of the systems in use was that of closing the inlet valve thus preventing the ingress of 'explosive' gasses.In designing his first engine Mr Percy Riley preferred the system of holding the exhaust valve open, claiming that the cooling of the engine was materially improved by allowing it to take in cool air via the exhaust port.
The Pioneer Riley car was in use in Coventry for a number of years and was eventually sold in Belfast. Several attempts have been made to recover it and bring it back home but it has been completely lost sight of, and an offer of £50 for information leading to its recovery is still good.
Greatly to the disappointment of the young members of the Riley family, they were unable to proceed with the production of these early cars. It was particularly unfortunate, in view of the great promise which the pioneer vehicle held out. It is true that the plant of the Company did not permit of car production, but there may be the additional reason that, whereas the market for pedal cycles was good and reasonably certain, the manufacture of motor I cars was extremely expensive and even more speculative at that time. English roads (were in a very poor state, and motor cars were far from popular. Something in the nature of a compromise was effected. In the years 1899 and 1900, besides making bicycles, the . Riley factory was producing motor tricycles, fitted with engines made by some of the beat-known manufacturers of that period. A little later a fourth wheel was added, and, what was known as a Riley Quadricycle, was produced. A Riley motor tricycle put up a track record at about this time. The younger Riley element was dissatisfied with this modest progress. Mr. Percy Riley . , who was in charge of the more progressive section of the Riley Works, had been, engaged in his spare time upon the production of a new water-cooled engine, of what was then the very generous proportions of 8hp.ln this unit he improved upon his original mechanically-operated inlet valve, and incorporated a method of varying the lift of the valve, thus regulating the speed of the engine to the required r.p.m. This engine was extremely successful, and incidentally it was discovered in 1913 driving the plant in a Coventry foundry, still doing well, and showing few signs of wear, despite a hard life of 13 years.
LAUNCHING OUT. The three Riley brothers—Percy, Victor, and Allan—were so enthused with the successful running of this engine that they approached the heads of the Riley Cycle Co. (Messrs. William and Herbert Riley) with persistent requests for the purchase of plant, and the provisions of the necessary money, for the manufacture of these power units on a commercial basis. It was a, very severe disappointment to them that their enthusiasm found little response from their father and uncle, who were still undecided as to the wisdom of entering into this very uncertain market. Neither the money nor the plant was forthcoming. In this dilemma the Riley brothers took a bold step. Pooling their own resources. they obtained financial assistance from both their mother and father, and made arrangements for the purchase This interesting 1905 Riley model was also exceptionally well sprung, and its success paved the way to still better things. The next step was to produce a 9 h.p. water-cooled twin engine, and by 1906 the little tricar was carrying full elliptic springs. This 9 h.p. Riley tricar was a very popular machine, and enjoyed quite a vogue. It was fast, tractable, comfortable, and of good appearance. In its day it left little to be desired in the cycle-car sphere. In competitions it frequently swept the board," its only serious competitors being the late Wilbur Gunn, in his 9 h.p. Legends, and the 9 h.p. Singer tri-car, which was fitted with the Riley engine. Meanwhile, it was found that by the abandonment of the cheaper machines, a number of old friends had been lost, and Mr. Stanley Riley, who had just served his apprenticeship with the Riley Cycle Company, was allowed to try his hand at the design of a smaller and cheaper tricar. He produced a 5 h.p. model, selling at £685, and it proved a popular success. One of these cars is still in excellent running order, and frequently appears at carnivals and rallies. Eventually it was found that the single rear wheel was holding these little vehicles back. There were serious tyre troubles on the rear wheel, for tyres were not perfect in those days, even to the extent that they are to-day. In 1905, the original Riley 9 h.p. car was produced, selling at the remarkable figure of £l68. It was much faster than anything else in its price class, and even exceeded the 9 h.p. Tricar in popularity. It was built upon a flat duplex tubular frame, with quarter elliptic springs all round. The same engine and gear box was used as in the Tricar, and final drive was by a central chain to a rear axle carrying a differential. It was a consistent winner in sports events—a fact which was not surprising, as it was actually the well-tried Tricar with a fourth wheel. of the required plant o n sufficiently generous terms to allow them to forge ahead. They launched the Riley Engine Co. The original factory was known as the Castle Works, adjoining the Cook Street gate, while a part of the old city wall formed one side of the factory. .
The Engine Co. was started in 1903, Mr. Percy Riley leaving the Riley Cycle Co., Ltd., to take over entire control. At that time the Riley Cycle Co., Ltd., were buying engines for their tricycles and quadricycles, but public opinion was slowly swinging round in favour of motor cycles. The Riley Engine Co. therefore concentrated upon lighter engines, and was soon turning out a range of 3 h.p., h.p., 21 h.p. t and 41 h.p. power units, all of which incorporated a novel and patented Valve gear, consisting of a single cam and two rockers.
" VALVE OVERLAP " PIONEERING. Another of Mr. Percy Riley's important innovations was the system of valve overlap, which he appreciated far in advance of other designers, and he made his first road experiments in this direction on a twin air-cooled engine of 6 h.p.
Then the forecar was added, the result being a tricycle " the wrong way round," i.e., with two wheels in front instead of behind. A very successful 4.5 h.p. watercooled engine was built for this machine. In the first place it was fitted with a lever operated clutch. Later a two-speed gearbox was added, with a band-brake, and 'a foot controlled clutch. This proved to be the last of the cycle type of machine which tho Riley concern built with a diamond type of frame. Already the saddle had been replaced by a comfortable upholstered seat, and the machine had become. the connecting link between a motor cycle and a cycle car.
In 1905 a machine was produced which constituted a considerable advance. it, was a 6 h.p. tricar, and really consisted of a three-wheeler motor car in most senses of the word as it was then understood. The engine was water cooled, of entirely new design, and a three speed gear box and clutch was fitted athwart the frame. The final drive was by roller chain to the single rear wheel. Even the gear box was designed by Percy Riley, with patented features, and it incorporated a reverse. In many novel respects thin little car was ahead of its time in its own lightweight class.
The gears for instance. were of the constant mesh type—a system which has been talked of quite a lot in the last year or two. Instead of the teeth gliding in and out of engagement to offset changes, dog clutches were used. The result was a gearbox which was genuinely fool-proof and remarkably silent. while the teeth could not be damaged when changing gear. This gear box had also many of the elements of the latest " pre selector gear box " which has caused a motoring sensation within the last two years. The box was so arranged that the lever could be forced into any position in the gear quadrant, regardless of car speed. When the car speed and engine speed approached the correct ratio, the gears automatically engaged themselves under the action of the coil spring gears Aing this dog clutches.
This interesting 1905 Riley model was also exceptionally well sprung, and its success paved the way to still better things. The next step was to produce a 9 h.p. water-cooled twin engine, and by 1906 the little tricar was carrying full elliptic springs. This 9 h.p. Riley tricar was a very popular machine, and enjoyed quite a vogue. It was fast, tractable, comfortable, and of good appearance. In its day it left little to be desired in the cycle-car sphere. In competitions it frequently swept the board," its only serious competitors being the late Wilbur Gunn, in his 9 h.p. Legends, and the 9 h.p. Singer tri-car, which was fitted with the Riley engine. Meanwhile, it was found that by the abandonment of the cheaper machines, a number of old friends had been lost, and Mr. Stanley Riley, who had just served his apprenticeship with the Riley Cycle Company, was allowed to try his hand at the design of a smaller and cheaper tricar.
He produced a 5 h.p. model, selling at £85, and it proved a popular success. One of these cars is still in excellent running order, and frequently appears at carnivals and rallies. Eventually it was found that the single rear wheel was holding these little vehicles back. There were serious tyre troubles on the rear wheel, for tyres were not perfect in those days, even to the extent that they are to-day. In 1905, the original Riley 9 h.p. car was produced, selling at the remarkable figure of £ l68. It was much faster than anything else in its price class, and even exceeded the 9 h.p. Tricar in popularity. It was built upon a flat duplex tubular frame, with quarter elliptic springs all round. The same engine and gear box was used as in the Tricar, and final drive was by a central chain to a rear axle carrying a differential. It was a consistent winner in sports events—a fact which was not surprising, as it was actually the well-tried Tricar with a fourth wheel.
NINE "HORSES" IN 1907 AND 1921. It is here interesting, to compare what a 9 h.p. engine could do in 1907 as compared with the modern equivalent. In the former year Mr. Victor Riley was placed second on handicap in tho Shelsey Walsh event on a 9 h.p. Riley, completing the climb in 2 min.23.5sec . In 1929 a 9 h.p. Riley saloon won the President's Cup in the same event with a time of 69.2 secs. It was the same hill and the same, (theoretical) horse power on each occasion. The Riley brothers were still dissatisfied with the perpetual tyre troubles of this period. The Stepney wheel had been introduced, but in the words of Mr. Percy Riley it was " not a satisfactory job." It eventually resulted in the production of the Riley detachable wire wheel, which was first used on this model towards the end of its life in 1907. Incidentally, it is interesting to note that in 1903 the committee of the French Grand Prix debarred the use of detachable wire wheels on the grounds that competing cars were not allowed to carry " spare parts " during the event. Another very important development in the Riley history is the fact that it was the first factory to include a detachable wire wheel as standard equipment. Meanwhile the Riley Cycle Co., Ltd.,was gradually loosening its bold upon the pedal cycle market, and the manufacture of freewheel clutches—another of Mr. Percy Riley's patents. Finally, the cycle company devoted itself entirely to the manufacture of motor cars. In 1907 the Riley Cycle Co., Ltd., introduced the 12/18 h.p. light car, which was entirely new, and which was - the first Riley model to have a pressed steel frame. The power plant was a water-cooled twin, and the first of the type produced had a splendid competition record. It was known as " Old Midnight," due to the fact that final preparations upon it were rarely completed until the " witching hour."
1930 Body Lines in 1904;The next production was the 10hp model which had a pressed steel frame,and was built to many of the ideas of Mr William Riley. The actual designer was Mr Stanley Riley, and the remarkable foresight in the matter of building lines showed itself here for the 10hp has a peculiarly modern look about it.
The manner in which his latest Monaco and Stelvio saloon designs have been copied gives further instances of this trait, which can be traced in a number of earlier Riley productions. There is in existence a diary which Mr Stanley Riley kept while at school in 1904 which contains a sketch which bears a remarkable resemblance to the Riley Nine tourer of today , including such features as the low build, dropped floors, with the feet of the driver and passenger projecting under the bonnet, together with the modern type of foot pedal control.
The 12/18 hp cars lived in favour from 1908 to 1913, and the outbreak of war caused a severe check to the career of the 17/30hp and a new 10hp which came along in 1913 and 1914. By this time the Riley Motor Manufacturing company had been formed, and the new 17/30hp car had a patented sleeve valve engine,while it was also the first Riley to incorporate a four cylinder monobloc engine. The sleeve valve patents were eventually disposed of to America at a handsome figure.
During the war the Riley works were given over to the manufacture of war material, and in 1916 land was acquired at Foleshill for the furtherance of this work, the first bays of the present Riley works being built. The post-war reorganisation of the Company is modern history . . . . . . The Riley story is one of adaptability and determination on the part of its family of proprietors, applied with great flair for engineering skill and ability in design.