search tips advanced search
site search by freefind


Percy Voiturette & Replica

The Percy Replica at the NEC 2019 with Victor Riley

ln 1898 at 18 years of age Percy Riley completed the build of his first car. it had occupied him for two years. Educated at Coventry's King Henry Vlll Grammar School, showing an aptitude for mathematics and engineering the young Percy determined to enter the automobile age. He could count on his brothers to support him and the resources of the family owned Riley Cycle Company lay behind him but there were other factors to consider. not least being that father William, Managing Director of RCC, was not convinced that the "Automobile" had a ' future. Nevertheless, Percy, working evenings in the deserted Cycle Works manufactured components, and assembled them. out of father's sight. Avid reading of the motoring press in Coventry's Gulson Central Library had equipped Percy and elder brother Victor with a firm grasp of the state of. automobile development in the world. Victor was vital to Percy's progress as the law at that time did not permit Percy, being under 21 to buy the materials he needed, whereas his elder brother could. His car reflected Cycle Co. construction methods and transmission solutions, adaptations of available items, and constant refining. But his incorporation of mechanical actuation for the inlet valve made his engine more modern than many contemporaries...and this was by an 18 year old. Five or six year passed before another four wheeled Riley appeared, the brothers engaged with the manufacture of motor cycles and tricycles. ultimately using engines designed and manufactured by Percy at the Riley Engine Company. The Percy Car was forgotten following a successful trials and trips and it was in the 1930's that Riley (Coventry) Ltd unsuccessfully attempted to find it, with a "last heard of" in Belfast circa 1924. Nevertheless, it was the first work of an unsung and modest hero of the early British automobile industry who created one of the first cars in the City of Coventry, if not the first Coventry built car.

 Geoffrey Havilland's history of the replica project until now showing the depth of research and work entailed  click here  and the unveiling click here

The Voiturette :
Started 1893 finished and working 1896. Basic dog cart construction with a 2.5hp single cylinder engine driving a leather   belt to the rear wheels. ( At this time the flat leather design of belt was used with the sectional whittle type belts coming in later so slippage in certain weather conditions or hills must have entailed many many sessions of adjusting it underneath). Speed was governed by a hand throttle next to the steering wheel linking directly via rods to the engine brakes as wooden or leather pads on a lever would have been derisory and entailed the system of parking with a brick under the wheels. Suspension was pathetic but the car did have mud guards  to protect against puddles and horse poop ( remember this age was predominantly horse power with four legs rather than petroleum).

The Percy car @ the N.E.C with the engine to be made and tested by Coventry University in 2020