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Riley Twelve & 16 hp by Nuffield .  another Very rare beastie

Many of the Nuffield 16's are also introduced here for ease of location and rarity

This model has suffered considerably as historically the Register covered cars until 1938 and the RM club from 1945 rendering them on their own with few spares and both clubs often making uninformed derogatory comments. They were designed by Riley as an Adelphi upgrade but adapted  to use some pre-existing spares both from Nuffield and Riley and are now one of the rarest models with more Imps surviving than Nuffield 12's and 16's. If nothing else they are the transition between pre war bespoke Rileys that bankrupted the company and mass produced RM's with many common design features. (They are also waterproof in rainy UK). Luckily an almost pristine example sold by Nuffield to the RAAF survives in Australia  as a pattern for any Uk restorations and recently a few have surfaced in barns and fields.

The Riley 12 was a medium-sized premium priced saloon (very similar to the Adelphi) or drop-head coupé (also available as a bare chassis) which was available from mid 1939 although it was not announced by The Motor magazine as a new car until July 1939. Only a few bodies were produced prior to the onset of war and the company turning over to 'war work' in September 1939, with some components were shared with Morris for economics . These interim models  incorporated a number of mechanical alterations mainly a Nuffield synchromesh gearbox plus a simpler design causing a visual loss of Riley character . New 'management' responded to the concerns of the marque's buyers by re-introducing the Kestrel 2.5 litre Sports Saloon in updated form, but as the factory was turned over to wartime production this was a short-lived development. After World War II, Riley took up the old engines in new models, based  on the 1936-8 'Continental', a fashionable 'notchback' design whose name had been changed prior to release to 'Close-Coupled Touring Saloon' owing to  objections from Rolls-Royce.

Production  of the twelve ended in 1941 with a few made probably after the last remaining parts were used and the model was not revived after the war but parts appear on many early Coventry  RM's.  Directly after the bankruptcy of Riley, the company's assets  had come into the hands of the Nuffield Corporation which had  drastically pruned and rationalized the Riley model range. This was  one of the two Riley models produced following that  until World War II put an end to Riley production Design.

The car superficially resembled a  Wolseley 12/48 with a Riley radiator shell. However  internally it used a modified version of the "Light Nine"  chassis  and  except for gearbox box & the rear axle the rest had already been used by Riley or were a logical development. Visually the car featured  helmet-style front mudguards and a bigger boot with a shell body over an ash frame as in the later RM's . Springs were semi-elliptic fore and aft. Brakes were by Girling with the handbrake only on the back. Steering was by Bishop cam, the column adjustable for length. The wheels were changed from the 'knock ons' to  bolt on disc wheels with hubcaps later re-used in the post war RM's. The engine was an updated version of the one previously seen in the 1935 Riley 12/4 model but now with a belt driven dynamo. This resulted in them  using Riley parts to construct a car 'more Nuffield' and the design when compared on the image page does flow between these and the RM. Parts also common to other Nuffield models are :-Steering box (Bishop peg), back axle (same as MG VA and Wolseley), and front stub axles (mowog cast in to spacer) Gearbox and Radiator core have mowog/Morris  cast in them. Riley parts were :-Front axle was from the Merlin; modified 1935 9hp  ie Merlin chassis redesigned to take a flat petrol tank an inboard flat spare wheel. The engine used a Sprite type cross flow and water pump based on the 16hp. The single timing chain used on RM's although meant for this car waited until post war . Running board strips replaced mats as in the RM's. Harry Rush had all the parts ready for the finished design of the RM on the earlier wide track chassis except  for the IFS which was left with the shelved design due to WW2 until after 'hostilies' ceased

Parts re-used on the RM series:- Hub cap design but sizing different as larger wheels; boot hinges on 1945/1946 cars and some estates; strong similarity to radiator grille and running boards; hood irons as used on the RM Roadster are identical and missing on fakes/specials; back wings as the RM front although similar have a cowl to hold a cheaper Lucas headlamp; torpedo lights of course; D lights as on the very early RM's  as the later ones used split lenses; the 1½ engines are interesting being very smilar to the postwar RM engine but with a sightly different sump, but particularly with a timing gears instead of a chain. They used to turn up in RM cars occasionally, and were a straight swap (thanks to Alec). . . . any more ?

1949 Transporter for Earls Court Motor Show, interestingly with Nuffield Wolseley's and RM's   This also shows the first hydraulic car transported used to take cars to the docks due to the export drive. Pic from FB group from Matthew Patrick.

1939 16hp  car on Wikimedia  the 16hp Saloon, was  an Adelphi (ish) fitted to the Nuffield-ised chassis. The cars later suffered as not Register material and not RMs so many were chopped as specials or starved with no club offering spares. Also surviving  1941 Riley 16 Kestrel EVC 880.

Further Reading :-

The New 12 Riley, Prioleau, John. The Observer, 27 Aug 1939
Riley 12 & 16, The Motor magazine 4 July 1939
Riley Register Series Volume 3 on pdf list here the very best sources as facts not opinions and underpriced

 Terenure Ireland 2014

In the Company Accounts & Balance Sheets to 31/12/1939 held at Warwick Univ. 574 12hp and 68 16hp are recorded as sold (now discovered that many were exported to Australia and USA/Canada so possibly as rolling chassis/nkd). In the 1940 Acc.& Bal. sales were £45K for 12hp and £13K for 16hp. In the 1941 A&B sales were just 12 hp @ £790. Some of the 16hp would have been 49K Kestrels but any 29S, SS or D's are to be treasured, and if you find a 49SS or D you have hit a jack-pot. . .

Known  Nuffield 12 hp Cars  so far :- Check the numbers on the chassis plate:-  June 1939- 29D/or/S 8001-8650? Nuffield 12hp Rileys 1939 onwards; June 1939- 49D/or/K/or/S 1501-1613? Nuffield 16hp Rileys 1939 onwards.  Build figures are 650 known to be sold of the 1939 saloon  no known figures for 1940 so possibly already constructed cars were sold . Also 100 total of Dropheads making a known record of 750 but a caveat recent research has located ones NOT on Vernon's list

**Export data shows 76 saloons,12 dropheads and 24 rolling chassis were exported and on present information many went to 'the commonwealth' as military staff vehicles on a deal between Nuffield and the govt to shift 'old' stock cheaply. Twenty are documented as going to the Royal Australian Air Force alone with the one below surviving in stunning condition** Two dropheads out of fifteen are known  to survive postwar  oddly six survive and are on the list below.

Prices 1939 :- Standard Saloon £310; Sprite/Special Series Saloon £335 (best £25 ever spent);

Prices 1940 :- Standard Saloon £341; Sprite/Special Series Saloon Saloon £368.10s ;

Prices 1939 :- Drophead Touring Saloon £335; Sprite/Special Series Saloon Saloon £360 

Prices 1940 :- Drophead Touring Saloon £368.10; Sprite/Special Series Saloon Saloon £396

Prices 1939 :- Chassis Only £235; 

Prices 1940 :- Chassis Only £266;

Media Sources :-

Riley Robs page

  No Uk number see  sale advert in Oz The known history is that approximately eight of this model arrived in Victoria in 1940, used as staff cars for the R.A.A.F.

BCL 627    chassis  29S 8234  The more usual way they are discovered ! Possibly for sale see owner of the pics

12 Drophead 1939 :-Riley Twelve Model 29S Saloon had a four-cylinder 1496-cc (69 x 100 mm) OHV engine, four-speed gearbox and 9 ft wheelbase. It featured several styling modifications. A drophead Coupé Model 29D was also available. Other 1939 Rileys are of the 16 HP type (saloon and drophead Coupé).
Riley Chassis Prefix  used was 28D for the 1939 car

Nuffield Cars Made (Information from Vernon Barkers booklet, Nigel Trotman & other sources):-Living/Surviving cars in Bold less than 20 as chopped by idiots (one in 2019 !) Booklets from the Riley Register pdf list here
Of the seventy seven known 12hp saloons  exported they have turned up 11 in Oz ( of the twenty known to have gone there), twelve in India, twenty one in Singapore, nine in S Africa, four in Uraguay (?), eleven in Ireland and Channel Isles plus Europe and one in Thailand . Twenty four were also sent to Oz as NKD or rolling chassis ( different sources state different formats).

Riley Twelve drophead Interestingly the hood irons are those of the RM Drophead as are the wings plus RM (almost) hubcaps showing the transitional design from classic pre war Riley to RM.  Number ???376 sold at  H+H

Riley 12 Saloon  1939

1940  JPG 793 Riley Twelve Saloon from

16 hp Nuffield Pics from Wikiwand

  16hp Nuffield This pic solved a puzzle ie the origin of the boot hinges on EVE which are identical flat and not handed/curved. . . now I know why they had a set left postwar ! Also check the almost RM hubcaps and overriders ( here the RM angled ones did the job better)
In the Company Accounts & Balance Sheets to 31/12/1939 held at Warwick Univ. 574 12hp and 68 16hp are recorded as sold. In the 1940 Acc.& Bal. sales were £45K for 12hp and £13K for 16hp. In the 1941 A&B sales were just 12 hp @ £790. Some of the 16hp would have been 49K Kestrels but any 29S, SS or D's are to be treasured, and if you find a 49S or D you have hit a jack-pot. . . are any left out there or better photographs ??

Surely the worst Riley advert ever ???
Bancruptcy:-By 1937, Riley began to look to other manufacturers for partnerships. A contract with Briggs Motor Bodies of Dagenham to provide all-steel bodies for a cheaper, more mass-market saloon had already turned sour, with dozens of unsold bodies littering the factory. It had withdrawn from works racing after its most successful year, 1934, although it continued to supply engines for the ERA, a voiturette (Formula 2) racing car based on the supercharged 6-cylinder 'White Riley', developed by ERA founder Raymond Mays in the mid-thirties. BMW of Munich, Germany was interested in expanding its range into England. But the Riley brothers were more interested in a larger British concern, and looked to Triumph Motor Company, also of Coventry, as a natural fit. In February 1938, all negotiations were suspended. On 24 February the directors placed Riley (Coventry) Limited and Autovia in voluntary receivership. On 10 March the Triumph board announced merger negotiations had been dropped. It was announced on 9 September 1938 that the assets and goodwill of Riley Motors (Coventry) Limited had been purchased from the receiver by Lord Nuffield and he would on completion transfer ownership to Morris Motors Limited "on terms which will show very considerable financial advantage to the company, resulting in further consolidation of its financial position". Mr Victor Riley then said this did not mean that the company would cease its activities. On 30 September Victor Riley announced that Riley (Coventry) Limited would be wound up but it would appear that the proceeds of liquidation would be insufficient to meet the amount due to debenture holders. Nuffield paid £143,000 for the business and a new company was formed, Riley Motors Limited. However, in spite of the announced intention to wind-up Riley (Coventry) Limited, perhaps for tax reasons, continued under the management of Victor Riley presumably with the necessary consents of debenture holders (part paid) creditors (nothing) and former shareholders (nothing). Nuffield passed ownership to his Morris Motors Limited for £100. Along with other Morris Motors subsidiaries Wolseley and MG, Riley would later be promoted as a member of the Nuffield Organisation. Riley Motors Limited seems to have begun trading at the end of the 1940s when Riley (Coventry) Limited disappeared.. Nuffield took quick measures to firm up the Riley business. Autovia was no more, with just 35 cars having been produced. Riley refocused on the 4-cylinder market with two engines: A 1.5-litre 12 hp engine and the "Big Four", a 2.5-litre 16 hp unit (The hp figures are RAC Rating, and bear no relationship to bhp or kW).