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Riley Falcon

The Falcon  was a radical re-design featuring a floorplan in which footwells descended either side of the transmission tunnel, and on a few examples,  flaps in the roof which lifted when the doors opened.  This feature had been designed to  allow  access to the low slung seats, but functioned better at allowing  rain in as often happened on later sun roofs and beacme used on most Rileys of the time.
          The model had a convoluted development as early cars  failed to sell, being speedily  discontinued as the design evolved. That first year (sold '34) the bodies were still being hand made, but somewhat different from the previous years Falcon which had been sold on the Nine chassis. "The Falcon Nine was offered over two consecutive sales years, the first ones being sold in the 1933 model year (Sept 1932-Aug 1933) for which Works dispatch records survive at Gaydon. During that 1933 sales year c.100 Falcon Nines went to dealers. That was a respectable figure by Riley standards, and at least was in the same ballpark as the c.120 dispatches that year of what today is the much more familiar Lynx Nine.  For more details on the 1933 and 1934 model Falcon Nines I would refer you to a seminal article by the late Dr Jack Mortimer in Register Bulletin No.182 of June 2001.  ( information from RC gratefully received ) A revised model was launched in later 1934 on the 12/4 chassis with a sweeping tail loosely resembling the Kestrel in place of the lumpy luggage boot of  earlier cars. The revamped  car sold  well, aided by the lack of  other  12/4 cars and being a practical family car with reasonable leg room for rear seat passengers and an improved boot with the spare carried outside under its 'dustbin lid'. As this new Falcon sold so quickly the design of the new Briggs-bodied range, launched in late 1935, was similarly designed. The design was further updated and for  1935  and again for 1936 however there were three 12/4 models competing for  sales, with the popular Adelphi and cheaper Briggs Bodied Merlin with the revised but more expensive Falcon . Prices were Falcon and Lynx £335 and the Kestrel £10 more (1935).
The 1936 version was upgraded with rear leg room increased, a new central arm rest fitted, to  further aid boot size the spare wheel fitted into a recess outside covered with a dustbin lid shaped cover. Outside the tie bar between the lamps became standard as did the fitting of bumpers. On the dash board the fuel guage indicated oil sump level when pressed and all for the same price.
For 1937  the remaining coachbuilt Falcon  was the 15/6,  with the 12/4 itself  turned over to the Briggs Body, which  replaced the the Merlin. The Falcon sold well almost a best seller, with around 1200 built during one year but few survive as many were chopped for specials in the 1950's/60's due to the 12/4 mechanics and very drivable narrow track chassis (the best Riley to drive like a loony in). This has become worse recently as the financial difference between a saloon and  mph/imp special or replica has made it a profitable business  to sell cars to people with little knowledge of history or originality. If you find one do try it as the handling is superb and the preselect gearbox raises eyebrows at traffic lights with the speed you can go!

Produced 1933 onwards, as a  Nine in 1933, Nine Special Series 1934, 12/6 1933-4, 15/6, 1935 12/4, 1934-7 Assembled Coventry, England; Designed by  Percy & Stanley Riley; Body and chassis  Midsize sports saloon mainly and until 1938 2-seater Body style Saloon, Tourer, Two-Seater, Racer;  Engine 1,496 cc / 91.3 cu in Straight 4 OHV Transmission Preselector (12/4), crash box (9), manual Dimensions Wheelbase 106 in /2,692 mm, 109 in /2,769 mm or 112 in /2,845 mm Width 58 in /1,473 mm to 61 in 1,549 mm ( narrow track chassis) 

Clubs for this model:  The Riley Register,     The Riley Motor Club,    &  those from other countries listed here

Falcon Chassis codes:-

Chassis number totals after the code indicate the total of that engine/chassis type so includes Falcons,Lincocks  etc but are included as if your car is not within these parameters check as recently many have been sold as 1936 with a 1937 chassis etc
Pre 1935  9hp 602->lumped in with Monaco etc as really a badge engineering without many Falcon improvements
44T 1935-7 15/6 Falcon saloon (from Oct '34 numbers between 2244-2499 )
22T 1935 saloon; 12/4 Narrow track   ( from Oct' 1934 numbers between 101-2199 ) Midland Bodies approx 1200 produced
26F 1936 12/4 saloon;( from July 1935 numbers between 2201-5000 )Narrow track, Midland Bodies approx 880 produced
27F 1937 12/4 saloon; ( from October 1936 numbers between 5001-7200 ) Narrow track, Briggs Body approx 700 produced
28F 1938 12/4 saloon;  ( from October 1937 numbers between 7201-7950 'ish)
28FX 1938  saloon; += Overdrive gearbox   ( from July 1935 numbers between 1001-1314)
46F  12/6 and 15/6 Falcon saloon ( from July 1935 numbers between 2500-3000)
SS = Sprite engine,   S = Special series engine upgrade 

For extensive falcon pics click here for CPB 461 now deceased

WP 8757,    

Riley Falcon in Film + TV:-
1935 Riley 12/4 Falcon in Carry on Constable, 1960 * = in background
1935 Riley 12/4 Falcon in The Spirit of '45, 2013 *

1935 Falcon Factory Publicity Photograph

Cars with a Personality The New 1½ Litre Riley By The Earl of Cardigan

FOR a long time past it has been the sound policy of the Riley Company not to produce a brand-new model except when some really worth-while advance in design can be incorporated in it. I see that it is about four years now since this firm made its last great step forward. The arrival of the 1 1 -litre model in 1935 marks another such event and an event it is, for this 12-h.p. car is, in my humble opinion, something very much out of the ordinary run of motoring productions.

The four-cylinder engine, for in stance, is a most remarkable little unit. One often speaks of a small engine running like a dynamo but in this case the comparison is real, not fanciful. It achieves very high revs with exceptional smoothness, and it is the literal truth to say that it seems to run better and better as the speed increases. It hums along very happily at 50 m.p.h., remains smooth and quiet at 60 m.p.h., and shows no trace of flurry even at 70 m.p.h. the approximate maximum.

In third gear, no less than 55 m.p.h. can be reached, and it is only when this figure is ex ceeded that the valve-gear begins to be audible. The gear-box is of the pre-selective variety, and is therefore entirely crash-proof. A good point is that the gear lever quadrant has deeply indented notches, so that there need be no fumbling between one ratio and the next. Control is still further simplified by the use of an automatic clutch between the engine and gear-box. This means that, if desired, the car can be started from a standstill in third or even top gear, and will move off quite easily and smoothly. The automatic operation of this clutch is exceptionally efficient, for the slip which occurs at ultra-low speeds is taken up both rapidly and unobtrusively. For example, using top gear only, one can Teach 30 m.p.h. from a standing start in under twenty seconds which, with a 12-h.p. engine, strikes me as remarkable.

This 1 ½ -litre model has, of course, many traditional Riley virtues, in addition to its more novel features. Thus, the coachwork is very distinctive in appearance, while permitting absolute comfort to the passengers. Deep foot-wells play a useful part in this respect. Road-holding is notably good, and the springing is better than ever being adequately firm and yet quite soft at the lower speeds. The steering is very light and pleasant, while definite enough to give the driver perfect confidence. The brakes are of ample power, and yet always smooth in their action. Permanent jacks are a standard fitting, and will greatly add to the owner-driver's convenience. One's chief memory of this Riley, however, is not merely that it is attractive and comfort able. It is also definitely a fast car. It gives plenty of speed and the speed can be used by an average driver with complete ease and assurance. First and last, it is as remarkable a motor-car as the Riley Company has ever given us. Here is genuine finger-tip control The lever controlling the pre selective gears is handily placed, and every change can be made quite confidently, since to crash a gear is an impossibility For many years the Riley has been a car of distinctive appearance, and the same may be said of the 1½- litre "Falcon," an attractive newcomer priced at £335 An excellent feature of this car is that, whereas the lines of the coachwork are distinctly modernistic, nothing freakish is involved, and all passengers are luxuriously seated The engine is of most interesting design, and achieves exceptional efficiency. The tool-kit is very conveniently placed beneath the bonnet The luggage-boot, which houses the spare wheel, holds a few small articles when closed, and any amount of baggage when open from The Bystander - Wednesday 01 May 1935

As with most adverts at this time in the more gentrified press it featured women as a target buyer

1935 Riley Falcon 12/4 © CLIFF JONES PHOTOGRAPHY

1937 Riley Falcon 12/4 © CLIFF JONES PHOTOGRAPHY

AN OLD FRIEND IN A NEW SHAPE The New Riley Twelve A Car that Deserves to Rival the Popularity of the Nine BY "HIGHWAYMAN" AT the first Olympia which I attended in a professional capacity, as you might say, the first I went to because I had to as well as because I wanted to, I proved the acuteness of my youthful eye (at least to my own satisfaction) by deciding that one particular exhibit would infallibly be "the car of the year." Actually it turned out the car of several years, for it was the Riley Nine, a car which allied a very neat and efficient little engine with a revolutionary gear box (the first silent third in the world) and a new style in bodies, a style the influence of which can be seen in about 50 per cent, of British cars of to-day. In due course I acquired a Riley Nine for my very own, and when four years later a Riley Fourteen appeared (their first six I had one of those too. Now another four years has passed and another new Riley appears, a Twelve but of four cylinders, not six, and being of 1,496 c.c. capacity known as the 1 -2 -litre." I have just spent a week-end in its company. Perhaps it will not set Coventry on fire, as did the Nine even if you only bring out a new model once every four years you must not expect each to be epoch-making. But I will say this for the Twelve it runs more smoothly and sweetly at full bore than any other Riley, four-cylinder or six, that I have ever encountered, and it is also the fastest and strongest single carburettor Riley.

The day, the speed limit started work I got a speedometer seventy with gratifying celerity (not in a limited area, I beg to state) and speedometers on new cars to-day are seldom more than 3 per cent. fast. It proved to have more guts up hills than my Fourteen and at least as good acceleration, allowing in the latter reckoning for the advantage given to the new car by its pre- selective gear-box. Riley steering was always good here it was better than before, and the lock was still more generous. The Girling type of mechanical brake has been adopted and there is to my mind nothing better, and in this car Rileys seem to have solved as nearly as it can be solved in a conventional chassis the problem of combining roadholding and comfort. Actually the springing feels on the soft side, but the car sits down perfectly and corners in the best Riley style. I have already suggested that I liked its behaviour at top speed. That is one of its strongest points. The faster you go the more like a flat-iron on the road the car feels, and with a beautiful driving position, the wheel close to the windscreen and your eyes well above the level of the neat Riley bonnet, your inclination is to make forth with for a land free from speed limits. The pre-selectagear, standard on this model, is an old friend of mine (in a slightly different form), and if old Riley fans miss the fun of the gear-lever they cannot but appreciate the quickness of the changes and the advantages of being able to pre-select and to stay in gear with the engine running while waiting for the traffic lights. The particular body model on the car provided for my trial was the Falcon, which is less markedly streamlined than the Kestrel, but, I should imagine, slightly roomier. It is a highly successful development, both for looks and performance, from the famous old Monaco pattern, thoroughly comfortable, really luxurious for four, easy to get in and out of and properly ventilated. I could have asked for another inch of width in front, especially as the rear passengers are so well provided for in this respect, but the front seats have so many good qualities and one can't have everything. They are placed just right and they give a most satisfying support to the back and shoulders. A point that I greatly appreciated and must praise very highly is that accelerator and brake pedals are so placed that transference from the former to the latter is more quickly done than on any other car I have driven for years. This is more important than it may appear, nor is it a mere question of comfort. There is a measurable lag, varying with the individual of the reception by the brain of a warning and the beginning of the braking effort. It may equal at speed adding sixty feet to the theoretical stopping distance of the car. In many, cars the lag is made worse because the foot has to be Iifted off the floor before it can get at the brake pedal. I wish other manufacturers were as thoughtful about this point. The car's equipment in cludes fully opening windscreen, roller blind sun visor for the driver, automatic chassis lubrication and permanent jacks. At the price of £335, which covers the preselectagear, the one and a half litre deserves to rival the popularity of the Nine. Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News - Friday 19 April 1935

 Both  photographs the 1935 15/6 Falcon reviewed below

A Remarkable Riley  The 15 h.p. Six" By The Earl of Cardigan The Riley Company seems to have a regular genius for turning out cars which, apart from the serious and solid merits which they may possess, are also exceptionally attractive both to look at and to handle. So much is this the case that, even if there was a Riley model-- (shocking thought!)-- with an inferior performance on the road, I verily believe that the public would buy it cheerfully on account of these very likeable features. It is therefore hardly necessary to state, of the new 15hp Falcon." that it is a remark ably good-looking car. It would be no true Riley if it were otherwise. The coachwork is of stream-line type but the effect is by no means aggressively modernistic. The word sleek" gives perhaps the best "potted" description of the car's general outline. Comfort has certainly not been sacrificed to obtain this result. The seating is luxurious, and there is plenty of head-room, even at the back. Foot wells on either side of the propeller- shaft housing are of value here. Leg- room also is ample, and the front seats can be pushed well back without cramping the rear passengers. Enthusiasts may perhaps wonder whether, with its new fool-proof transmission, this latest Riley is as interesting to drive as were its pre decessors. Personally, I still find it a car which can be driven with genuine pleasure. the road-holding is ex cellent, and one has a general sense of all the controls operating just so." Even if mechanical skill is no longer necessary, good judgment can be exercised, and will always meet with satis fying response. The 14-2 h.p. engine gives an excellent perform ance. It is a six-cylinder unit, having overhead valves operated by twin camshafts. It is at all times very smooth, and thus gives an unusually high cruising speed. It is possible to run, for instance, at a good 60 m.p.h. without feeling that the comfortable revs are being exceeded. The maximum speed is in the neighbourhood of 75 m.p.h., which is certainly more than the average owner will ever require. Any reasonable gradient can be climbed in third gear, and in this ratio something over 60 m.p.h. can be reached. The gearbox is of the pre-selective type and, of course, enables faultless changes to be made with ab solute certainty. It should be remembered also that very quick changes are like wise  A Riley is always a good looking car and the 15 h.p. Falcon is certainly no exception to the general rule. The price of this latest model is £365 which is very reasonable and  has not prevented the designer from making the seating thoroughly comfortable. There is plenty of space and head room. The hinged quarter- light is a good minor feature .The engine is highly efficient and has two cam shafts to operate the overhead valves. The tool kit is stored in a very accessible position

The 1 5 h.p. RILEY in brief Engine: Six cylinders overhead valves, with two camshafts. 14-2 h.p. Tax £11 5 s. Transmission: Pre-selective gear box, giving four speeds. Friction clutch, automatically controlled Performance: Third gear, 50 m.p.h. top gear, 75 m.p.h. Steering: Light, efficient. Brakes: Mechanical type, good and smooth. Springing Semi- elliptic, com fortable at all speeds. Coachwork Of stream-line type, but plenty of space front and back. Price: "Falcon" model £365. from Britannia and Eve - Thursday 01 August 1935

ADVERTISMENT The first new Riley for over four years! A car that will give you a new thrill a new experience. At any speed from 0 to 70 m.p.h., the Riley litre behaves better than any other car. Built for the new road conditions, its amazing acceleration and its equally amazing stopping power (in under 30 feet from 30 m.p.h.) are new assets in motoring. Its rock steadiness a result of air-liner chassis bracing, aero-line design, down-swept frame, inter-axle seating is a revelation. Falcon Aero-lined Saloon, £335. Kestrel Aero-lined Saloon, £345. Dun- lop Tyres and Triplex Glass. Catalogue from Riley (Coventry) Limited, Coventry. 1½ Iitre THIS SEASON'S BIG EVENT  from The Sketch - Wednesday 10 October 1934 

I knew the Kestrel was intended and sold as an Art Deco styled car but had not realised the often maligned Falcon was too !