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Riley  17hp  Cars  1913-23   the  17/30  


Models Available :-


1913-1914   4 Seat Torpedo I7/30 h.p. 

1913-1914  2 Seat Car 17/30 h.p.

1913-1914  3 Seat Car 17/30 h.p.

**The data below come from a 1922 brochure from the factory on the 17hp. Indicated on the cover as used to belong to Stanley Riley but a photocopy. The use of celluloid for the panels was a curve ball I had not expected and the high price probably accounting for the nil survivors. Chassis only price quoted  pre.WW1 @ £335 and post@ £500 but by 1922 in the catalogue £850 with tools etc see below so suspect first figures are the 'Motor Show' projected  ones rather than the 'on the road' version


FIVE-SEATER ALL-WEATHER, 17hp  with light; Celluloid Panels (door panels are hinged and open and close with the doors), complete with "C.A.V." Starting and Lighting Equipment, Spare Wheel and Tyre, Tools including Pump and Jack £850 .CHASSIS : Including "C.A.V." Starting Motor and"Dynamo, but less Dash Fittings, Wings, etc.£600 : 0 : 0

SPECIFICATION

ENGINE—Four cylinders, one piece casting. Bore and stroke 3g"valves on one side, totally enclosed by oil-tight cover. Forced lubrication by slide valve plunger pump. , Adjustable pressure release valve in convenient position on crank case. Oil is carried in sump, the latter being fitted with strainer which can be. removed without emptying -oil. The oil.,

! level in sump is indicated by a float. Water circulation by centrifugal pump driven from cross shaft, which also drives magneto, bringing the latter in the most accessible position. Crankshaft and camshaft are carried in five bearings, the. camshaft being driven through helical gears.

CARBURETTOR— Zenith horizontal.

IGNITION—Magneto, variable by lever on steering: wheel.

CLUTCH—Leather cone with adjustable springs, flat springs being fitted to operate under the leather ensuring smooth engaging.

GEAR BOX—Four speeds and reverse, with gate change, gear lever being carried entirely on gear box and placed on the right-hand side. Third and fourth speeds are obtained through sliding dogs, the former being helical gears ensuring silence which it is impossible to get with ordinary spur gearing.

UNIT CONSTRUCTION and THREE-POINT SUSPENSION—Engine and Gear Box form one unit. This with the encased brake and spherical joint form an entirely enclosed transmission. The Engine—Gear Box unit is carried in the frame by three-point suspension, thus the unit is' relieved of any strains due to frame distortion.

FRAME—Deep section pressed steel, up-swept at rear and in-swept at front,giving.exceptional lock.

BRAKES—Foot-brake on gear box, contracting shoe type, entirely encased and easily adjustable. Hand-brakes, internal expanding on rear hubs.


BACK AXLE —Worm driven (Daimler Gears). Aluminium centre with large steel taper tubes on which the hub bearings are mounted, torque tube, which encloses propeller shaft, being coupled up to gear box by the spherical joint.


CHASSIS DIMENSIONS :  Wheel Base, 10 ft. in. Track, 4 ft. 8 in. 11• 1 Overall length, 14 ft. 6 in. approx. •Overall width, 5 ft. 9 in. approx. Weight with Standard Body, 27 cwt. approx.

INLAND REVENUE PARTICULARS : Cylinder bore 3g- in. diameter.R.A.C. rating 18.2 h.p.

Manufacturer: Riley (Coventry) Ltd at City Works

Riley Motor Manufacturing Co. at Cunard Works 

Riley Engine Co. at Aldbourne Road


 Catalogues:-

Beyond Blue Diamond p124 shows first cover - Riley (Coventry) Ltd., City Works

Beyond Blue Diamond p132 shows 1913 cover - Riley Mtr Mfg. Co. Cunard Works

Riley Register Library item 34.8 1922 Catalogue

Riley Register Library item 1.8 Article: The new 17 hp Riley Autocar 03/1915

Coventry Transport Museum Catalogue

Books for this age car:-
Riley Beyond the Blue Diamond by Styles with some stunning pictures  and way more information than the snippets on here  isbn 1-84128-000-3 well worth the money

Complete Catalog of British Cars. 1895-1975. by David Culshaw, Peter Horrobin:  New edition. Veloce Publishing plc., Dorchester 1997, ISBN 1-874105-93-6 .

 

Source

Ref.

Reg.

Date

Model

Description

Beyond Blue D

P124

 

1913

Landaulette

From Catalogue

Beyond Blue D

P127

 

1913

4/5 seater

From Catalogue

Beyond Blue D

P128

 

1913

2/3 seater

From Catalogue

Beyond Blue D

P126

DU 7568

1913

4/5 seater

By Ford’s Hosp.

Beyond Blue D

P134

DU 7568

1913

4/5 seater

Cooke St Gate

Beyond Blue D

P134

HP 4297

1922

Landaulette

Front view

Beyond Blue D

P135

HP 4297

1922

Landaulette

Three-qrtrs view

Beyond Blue D

P136

HP 4297

1922

Landaulette

Wedding car

Birmingham

P49

 

 

5 seat Tourer

Autocar pic

Birmingham

P62

 

1922

5 seat Tourer

Works picture

 

Detail pics

Birmingham

P49

Front end & engine off-side

Autocar picture

Beyond Blue D

P122

Engine off-side close-up

 

Beyond Blue D

P123

Chassis layout

 

Beyond Blue D

P125

Chassis from rear end

 

Beyond Blue D

P127

Bare chassis,gear selectors,trans brke

 

 


 Riley 17 1913-23
The Riley Motor Manufacturing Co had formed to just make cars in 1912 after the cycle (1911) and motorcycle (1907) production ceased and amid the legal wrangling re the detachable wheels . Several similar types of splined-hub detachable wheel systems had been independently conceived and patented in both Britain and Europe . In Britain the main patentees, were Victor Riley and John V. Pugh of Rudge-Whitworth,  engaged a ceaseless ping pong  claim and counterclaim in the courts until the dispute was decided by the House of Lords for Riley. The introduction of cheap detachable steel artillery wheels soon made irrelevant  the early centre-lock wire wheels . Starting from the end of 1913 when Stanley Riley returned from his world-tour,  Percy's attention altered from the  Riley Motor Manufacturing Co., to  'The Nero Engine Co. Ltd'., which Victor Riley had founded some years earlier.  Work  immediately started on the 10hp engine, plus a new car for it which was completed  in 1914 . From 1913 there was a 10hp car from Nero  with only a trio of prototypes  completed before war broke out in August 1914.

The larger 17hp car from Riley Motor Manufacturing Co, appeared as a prototype at the 1913 Olympia Motor Show beween the 7th and 12th November  (To give an idea of the factory growth  by this time in1913 it recorded having built 1350 cars which would have been the 17 hp and the 12/18) .This featured a brand new 4-cylinder, 3 litre engine, as usual with Riley various body styles   available.  The firm's first production four-cylinder model,  had a monobloc 2951 cc side-valve engine. This was a more well thought out and designed   car  than previous Riley models, again the work of Percy Riley. These early sidevalves  had a three-speed gearbox  later replaced by a four-speed unit with constant-mesh third and top engaged by dog-clutches. It was the first passenger car with a four-cylinder engine that Riley brought out in 1914. This  was now the brand's top model with the output of 58 bhp (43 kW). Production was stopped due to the war and  resumed in 1918 and continued until 1923. Afterwards Riley only built lighter vehicles. Both  the 17hp and the new 10hp were due  to be exhibited at the 1914 Motor Show which was cancelled owing to the declaration of war.

This  stopped  production and the   older brothers were directed by the Ministry of Munitions to remain in Coventry and assist the war effort. ( William's youngest son, Cecil, enlisted)   With the assistance of the Ministry of Munitions, Victor's Nero Engine Co. Ltd. was able during 1916 to move on to  land at Foleshill and the bays of a new works were built to manufacture  munitions for  the British war effort  and designs including aeroplane engines and Percy' rotary engine (base of the page) which worked the cylinders placed radially around the crankshaft.   .After the war this became the main Riley Works replacing the many small, cramped and old workshops and office in central Coventry which were no longer suitable.  By the Armistice in 1918 Riley (Coventry) Ltd. had ceased wheel manufacture, absorbed the Nero Engine Co, and moved across  to the Foleshill site. Riley Motor Manufacturing Co. meanwhile changed its name  to Midland Motor Body Co.   In January, 1919, the undertaking of the Nero Engine Company, Limited, was acquired, and 50,000 additional shares.The Riley Cycle Co took over the Nero Engine Co Ltd and made cars from 1919 to 1922, until Nero  reverted to producing electric lighting, and engines / equipment for boats, until 1926 based upon Percy's designs.

Post war with the armistice Riley ceased its separate wheel manufacturing business to focus on the (re) manufacture of the 17hp, an excellent 4-cylinder 3-liter engine presented in first at shows in 1913. After the war , until a new car was developed, the Riley Engine co. continued production of the 17hp. This car continued in production until 1921, when the Horsepower tax was introduced. (All pre-war vehicles have an RAC horsepower rating, which was linked to the Vehicle Excise Duty, and a figure for brake horse power. When the horsepower tax was introduced on 1 January 1910 a formula, known as the RAC Rating, was used to calculate the horsepower Some manufacturers, such as Riley, Rover and Wolseley, started to use a double rating system and designated a car as eg. 10/25, where the 10 was RAC horsepower and 25 was indicated horsepower ) The manufacture of this model continued until 1921 and was the first Riley  model to wear the famous diamond-shaped logo designed by Harry Rush .
 
Engine:- 17 hp 4 cylinder side valve, bore 86, stroke 127, Capacity 2932 cc, 58 bhp at 2500rpm,
Carburettor Zenith,
Gearbox:- 3-speed gear,
Suspension:- box. Top gear ratio 4.125:1  Front semi-eliptic Rear 3/4-eliptic,
Weight:- 27cwt, Sizes:- Wheelbase 10'6" (approximately 3190mm) Track 4'8" (approximately 1490mm)
Length 14'6" (approximately 4400mm) Width 5'8" (approximately 1790mm)
Tyres 820 x120
The chassis had a wheelbase of 3200 mm, the body was 4420 mm long and 1727 mm wide. The curb weight was 1372 kg.


One of the few pictures of a Riley 17hp in 1920 the Torpedo pic from Norway Riley /Picture taken at Grov farm at Sand in Norway

Restructuring:


and by 1912 . . . RILEY CYCLE COMPANY LIMITED. ANNUAL MEETING INCREASED SALES

The annual meeting of the Riley Cycle Company, Ltd., was held at the registered offices, Coventry, to-day. Mr. Victor Riley (Chairman) presided. and there were also present Mesrs. B. Riley, Allan Riley, William Riley, and Herbert J. Riley . (directors), W. Maddock, ( solicitor ), E. F. Peirson (Messrs. E. T. Peirson and Sons, auditors), Geo. Barr (Secretary), and some shareholders. The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the report. and accounts, stated that the profits shown did not in his opinion represent the progress made by the Company. The Company's sales for the 'period under review showed an increase of 47 per cent: over those of the previous financial year, and as an indication of prospects the sales for the current season to date showed an increase of 39 per cent. over these of last year. The disturbed labour conditions prevailing in this country, together with the serious and unchecked foreign competition were, in themselves, grave difficulties. If the general trade of the country was maintained there was a good prospect for the continued  expansion of the Company, and no doubt they would shortly be faced with the necessity of providing increased manufacturing resources. Mr. William Riley seconded, and the resolution was adopted. Mr. B. Riley proposed, Mr. C. Riley seconded, and it was carried unanimously that Mr. Victor Riley, the retiring director, be re-elected. Mr. B. Riley proposed, Mr. Allan Riley seconded, and it was carried unanimously that Messrs. E. T. Peirson and Sons be re-elected Auditors of the Company.

A vote of thanks to the Chairman for presiding ' concluded the proceedings. At the close of this meeting an extraordinary general meeting was held, when on the proposition of the Chairman, seconded by Mr. William Riley, the following resolution was passed: "That the name of the Company be changed from 'The Riley Cycle Company, limited,' to Riley (Coventry) Limited, and that such change shall take effect as from the date of registration of the consent of the Board of Trade." from Coventry Evening Telegraph - Monday 04 March 1912


by 1923. . RILEY (COVENTRY) LIMITED, The directors' report, to be presented at the 27th ordinary general meeting of shareholders, to be held at the Company's Registered Office  Durbar Avenue, Coventry, on December 19, states that after deduction of depreciation there remains a net profit of £8,579 -16s. -11d.. ...which, deducted from the debit balance of £27,589 - 8s. -10d. brought forward, reduces the deficit to be carried forward to next year to £19,009-11s-11d. The retiring directors are Mr. J. Gardiner and Captain G. E. W. Broade, who are eligible and offer themselves for re-election. The auditors, Messrs. E. T. Peirson and Sons, Chartered Accountant', Coventry, retire, and offer themselves for re: election..

The balance-sheet is as follows; Capital and liabilities.—Nominal capital: £350,000 shares of £1 each, £350,000. Capital issued and paid up: 137,313 shares of £1 each, fully paid, £137,313; 5,060 shares of £1 called £5,050, less calls in arrear £4,400, £650—£137,963; forfeited shares account, £8,035 15s.; 6 per cent. redeemable debentures and accrued interest, £3,605: sundry creditors and reserves for accrued liabilities, £47,646 - 8s-. 2d.; deposits, £432-10s.; depreciation reserve amount as at 5th August, 1922, £18,338 -9s. -2d., less amount transferred and included in depreciation. £3,740-0s-7d;   ., £14,598 -8s. -7d.; total, £212,281-1- 9d.

Assets and debit balances Freehold works at Coventry and machinery, tools, jigs, patterns, dies, templates, ete., as as 5th August, 1922, £132,964-15s .. additions £4.295-2s-1d;. , £137,259-17s-Id.; less depreciation, £6,862-19s.-10d.-£130,396-17s-3d.; leasehold property cost £1,774- 8s-Id., less depreciation £147- 17s. -4d., £1,626-10s- 9d:: stockintrade, £39,061 13s . loan to Sports Club, £100; sundry deposit., £113; sundry debtors, less reserves for doubtful debts and allowances, £12,395 -3s-8d;. cash and bills in  hand and at bank, £6,570- ls. -8d: expenses of new capital, as at 5th August.,1922 £27,589-6-10d ,less profit for  the year, £8,579 -16s.-11d., £19,039 -11s. -11d.; total, £212,281- ls. -9d. Coventry Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 12 December 1923

 Above. . . .Although not within the same time frame left together as they show the company development pre WW1 and just post going from a small family firm to a large employer



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.