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Riley 1.5

The Riley One-Point-Five and  Wolseley 1500  were produced by Riley and Wolseley respectively from 1957 to 1965. They utilised the Morris Minor floorpan, suspension and steering but were fitted with the larger 1,489 cc  B-Series engine and MG Magnette gearbox. The two models were differentiated by nearly 20 hp , the Riley having twin SU carburettors giving it the more power at 68 hp . The Wolseley was released in April 1957 and the Riley was launched in November, directly after the 1957 London Motor Show. The Series II was released in May 1960. The most notable external difference was the hidden boot and bonnet hinges. Interior storage was improved with the fitting of a full width parcel shelf directly beneath the fascia. The Series III was introduced in October 1961, featuring revisions to the grille and rear lights. In October 1962 the cars received the more robust crank, bearing and other details of the larger 1,622 cc unit now being fitted in the Austin Cambridge and its "Farina" styled clones. Unlike the Farina models, however, the Wolseley 1500 and Riley One-Point-Five retained the 1,489cc engine size with which they had been launched back in 1957. Production ended in 1965 with 39,568 Rileys and 103,394 Wolseleys made.

Official factory Publicity Photographs


The Riley One-Point-Five was announced very shortly after last year's Earls Court Motor Show, which was in itself something of a surprise, although Sir Leonard Lord had previously made it clear that the entire British Motor Corporation would ignore Show dates when introducing new models within their wide range.

The fact that anyone and everyone can plainly see the close relation ship between the small Riley and the Wolseley 1500 does not reveal the whole story by any manner of means. Obviously, the Riley is intended to be a fast car of its type and size, and that it certainly is. The engine, basically the 1500 cc BMC unit, has, if I may put it this way, been Abingdon-ised with no mean result. Higher com pression at 8.3 to 1, twin carburettors, special valves and valve springs, and special exhaust manifold, all add an extra third to the power produced, which is actually 68 bhp. This power in a light-weight car certainly provides a sparkling performance. Acceleration is brisk indeed, especially if the very good gear-box is used fully. In top, below and around 40 mph, only fairly normal acceleration comes forth, but as the car is also quite happy at 20 in top gear, this is a useful feature for gentle town driving. For a swift run, considerable performance figures can be put up, with 65 easily reached in third gear, and a top-gear maximum of something in the region of 84 mph. I found 75 to 80 a very suitable cruising speed, which enabled me to set up some excellent averages.

I would say the steering is not really in the sports-car class, but it still gave me complete confidence to use the performance fully. The brakes served me well, although perhaps towards the end of a long and fairly fast run they did begin to tire a little. I was pleased to see that the traditional Riley radiator is retained. I recall thinking that the very enthusiastic Riley owners would be happy about this, as they should be indeed with the Riley-like feel of the whole car. (Riley owners will know what that odd expression implies.) This is, let 's face it, quite a small car. But it has a reasonably luxurious finish, with walnut facia and window fillets, something I always like. Interior heater system (which worked very well, with complete control), screen- washers and reversing lamp are standard fittings. The rear-seat back will fold flat inwards, to allow access to the ample boot.

The two front bucket seats are adequate and surprisingly comfort able even for my quite wide and bulky frame, although one must say that the leg-room in the back is not over-generous. With the front seats adjusted for maximum leg-room, the rear-seat passengers have to tuck their feet under the seat and somehow find room for their knees elsewhere perhaps round the sides of the front seats. However, my three children had nothing to grumble about, and some adult passengers for a short-to-medium journey did not complain, either.

The instrumentation is good. There is a rev. counter to supplement the speedometer, which I always enjoy. Oil pressure gauge, water temperature gauge and fuel gauge are grouped in one, as usual. I found the fuel gauge unduly pessimistic anywhere below half-full, causing me to overflow one day when I filled up with six gallons. The tank, by the way, holds but seven; so there must have been a full gallon in, despite the fact that I had been running with the needle at E for many miles. This, of course, is a fault with almost every petrol gauge I 've seen since the war on any make of car. As to petrol consumption, making full use of the splendid perform ance available and of the acceleration possible up towards top revs, in lower gears is not economical driving. Nevertheless, mine worked out at around 27 to the gallon, so I am sure that 30 and more would come from reasonable driving. Considering the type of performance available, the styling and finish of the interior, and the items listed as standard equipment which are so often extras, the most surprising feature of this Riley is its price. At £575 basic, plus purchase tax of £288 17s, it is remarkable value, and surely the cheapest performer of its size by a long way. Obviously, there is a wide market for this One-Point-Five.  from The Sketch - Wednesday 23 April 1958

Riley's Value for Money By Pat Gregory

FIRST INTRODUCED back in 1957, the Riley One-Point-Five has undergone very few changes in the course of its life. Indeed, the main and most acceptable alteration has been in its price. Six years ago it cost £864. To-day you have to pay only £701 (including £121 Purchase Tax).

       For this relatively inexpensive sum you get a 1 ½ litre saloon with twin- carburetter engine, leather upholstery, a carpeted floor, a reversing lamp, and a walnut veneered instrument panel.

The body shell, which it shares with the single-carburetter Wolseley 1500, was designed before the Austin and Nuffield groups merged to form the British Motor Corporation. The inspiration that prompted the car was the extremely popular Morris Minor now the Morris 1000. When it originally appeared, the Minor was undoubtedly the most advanced small car in Britain, particularly as regards suspension, road-holding and handling characteristics. It was, however, a trifle underpowered. There was a demand for a car that would have the qualities of the Minor coupled with a more zestful performance. The Riley One-Point-Five provided the answer. And it has acquitted itself in this dual role most commendably. A Compact Package

   The combination of low unladen weight (just over 18 cwt.) and a 1  ½-litre engine that develops 63.5 b.h.p. at 5,000 r.p.m., is a subtle formula for success. True, a 1,500-c.c. car whose seating is distinctly close-coupled, and which can boast an overall length of only 12 ft. 9 ½ in. may invoke criticism from certain quarters. Indeed, the Riley One-Point-Five is one of the smallest 1 ½-litre saloons built any where in the world. Whilst many motorists may regard this as a disadvantage, a significant minority will think it an attraction. On crowded roads, the smallness of the car can be a real advantage to anyone who does not need a lot of passenger accommodation, for ease of parking or for getting through heavy traffic. Turning circles of 32-33 ft. diameter are reasonably rather than remarkably compact.

     The Riley One-Point-Five is essentially a model for the man or woman who takes an interest in driving. Whilst it is certainly not difficult to drive, it is quite surprising how eagerly it will respond to proper handling. In fact, the Riley 1.5 only becomes a lively car when the gears are used in really enterprising fashion. It has a high top gear ratio which, matched to the twin-carburetter engine, gives fast cruising and a maximum speed in the mid-eighties. Additionally, it has plenty of top-gear pulling power acceleration from moderate speeds so that the lazy driver may be tempted to ignore intermediate ratios once under way. More judicious use of the gear lever, however, is well rewarded. On the other hand, as one can exceed 70 m.p.h. in third without over-revving the engine, some hard-driving motorists may seldom use top. The manufacturers themselves, rather coyly refer to it as "doing the work of an 'overdrive'." Whilst this may be somewhat exaggerated, it is surprising how performance improves when some slight skill and shrewdness is brought to bear on the question of proper gear selection. The general style of furnishing is traditional, with the judicious use of wood, leather, matching leathercloth and pile carpets to produce a pleasant but not showy effect. Interior space, alas, is somewhat marginal. True, four adults can be accommodated, though passengers at the rear rather lack "elbow-room." Regarded as only an occasional four, it is a pity that the two front seats and especially the all-important driver's position have not been rather better planned for comfort and body-holding The instrumentation is neat, sensible and easy to read. A central remote-control gear lever is used, and the handbrake is positioned between the two seats. There is a good parcel shelf below the instrument panel, as well as a glove-box of reasonable size. The car is well endowed with baggage space. The whole of the flat, rubber- covered floor of the boot offers unimpeded access, since the spare wheel and petrol tank are stowed away in a separate com partment under its floor. The Riley's styling has successfully withstood the test of time. Despite its slightly dated "pre-Farina" lines, the driver is provided with quite a good view which is not seriously obstructed by roof pillars or by the rather high body sides. Although it has a relatively high com pression ratio of 8.3 to 1, the unit, like all B.M.C. engines, is extremely flexible. In idle moments one can potter along comfortably at less than 20 m.p.h. in top, and pull away on full throttle without snatch.

The steering, by rack-and-pinion, is reasonably light and delightfully precise and accurate, so that the car can be placed wherever one wants it. Self-centring is strong, the wheel spinning back as soon as one's grip is eased after a corner. Only on particularly rough surfaces is there much kick-back of road shocks, whilst on corners the car's behaviour is constant and reassuring. In fact, the handling as a whole is one of the Riley's strong points. Initially, the steering is pretty well neutral, with a very mild understeer. There is, however, a distinct roll when the car is cornered fast, which changes this into an equally mild oversteer.

Stability: Directional stability is first-class, the car maintaining a straight course at high speed, even when momentarily I took my hands off the wheel. On normal road surfaces the ride is very comfortable and free from pitch or bounce, indeed, perhaps even a little too soft for this type of modestly high-performance car. Over rougher terrain, however, one becomes aware of the shortness of the wheel-base and there is considerable up-and-down movement. Petrol consumption should be in the 25-32 m.p.g. region according to how hard the car is driven and how much traffic there is. With a seven-gallon petrol tank this gives the Riley a touring range of just over 200 miles, which seems rather limited. All in all, though, the Riley has proved its appeal to a very discerning section of the motoring public. The fact that so little of the original design has been altered is undoubtedly the most tangible indication of how sound its original conception has proved to be. Car on Test RILEY ONE-POINT-FIVE: "one of the smallest 1.5-litre saloons built anywhere in the world," comments our Motoring Correspondent. from the  Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News - Wednesday 05 June 1963

Riley 1.5 in Film + TV
Riley One-Point-Five in Robbie Coltrane's B Road Britain, 2007 **
1957 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in Répulsion, 1965 * = in background
1957 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in The Protectors, 1972-1973 *
1957 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in The Servant, 1963 *
1957 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in CHiPs, 1977-1983 *
1957 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in The Avengers, 1961-1969 *
1957 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in Festival of Transport, 1996 *
1957 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in Dalziel and Pascoe, 1996-2007 **
 1957 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in Monty Python's Flying Circus, 1969-1974 *
1957 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in Die Teutonen kommen, 1962 *
1957 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in Master Keaton, 1998-1999 *
1958 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in The Sweeney, 1975-1978 **
1958 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in Man in a Suitcase, 1967-1968 *
 1958 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in Seance on a Wet Afternoon, 1964 *
1958 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in Touring Car Legends, 2014 ***
1958 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in The Pleasure Girls, 1965 *
1958 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in Look at Life: Horse-Power Riders, 1960 *
1958 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in London for a Day, 1962 *
1958 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in Look at Life: A Car is Born, 1959 *
1959 Riley One-Point-Five MkI in The Full Treatment, 1960 *
1959 Riley One-Point-Five MkII in Die Teutonen kommen, 1962 *
1960 Riley One-Point-Five MkII in Look at Life: The Village Sleeps Again, 1962 *
1960 Riley One-Point-Five MkII in The Best of British: The History of Jaguar, 2005 *
1960 Riley One-Point-Five MkII in The Full Treatment, 1960 **
1960 Riley One-Point-Five MkII in Look at Life: Rulers of Racing, 1964 *
1961 Riley One-Point-Five MkII in L'enfer, 1964 ??
 1962 Riley One-Point-Five MkII in I Spy, 1965-1968 *
1962 Riley One-Point-Five MkII in Holocaust 2000, 1977*
1961 Riley One-Point-Five MkIII in Troppo per vivere... poco per morire, 1967 *
1962 Riley One-Point-Five MkIII in Bellman and True, 1987 *
1962 Riley One-Point-Five MkIII in The Big Switch, 1968 *
1962 Riley One-Point-Five MkIII in Man at the Top, 1973 *
1962 Riley One-Point-Five MkIII in Look at Life: Report on a River, 1963*
1962 Riley One-Point-Five MkIII in On The Beat - The British Policeman 1900-1984, 2007 ***
1965 Riley One-Point-Five MkIII in Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll: The 60's Revealed, 2008 *