NZ classic car gifted to British museum
A 68-year-old New Zealand-owned classic car now has a new home in a British museum.
The 1948 Riley RMB has been shipped across the world from New Zealand to Hampshire by its long-term owner, who has donated it to the National Motor Museum Trust at Beaulieu.
James Welch, who had known the car for much of its life and had painstakingly restored it, donated the Riley to the museum and paid to have it transported there.
‘‘I am 74 and with no beneficiaries,’’ Welch said.
‘‘I had dreamed that this car, because of its rarity, should go to a place where it can be exhibited for all to see. The time was right to send it off.
‘‘After having this car in my life for 61 years, I am so very pleased that it has gone to such a prestigious home.’’
This Riley RMB 2.5 litre has a remarkable story to tell.
James Welch’s father, Pat Welch, acquired the Riley in 1955 as part payment on his farm, after the car’s owner had brought it with him when emigrating to New Zealand.
Joining a car club, Pat Welch then started to compete in hill climbs and speed events, accompanied by his son.
‘‘My father sold the car in 1970,’’ said James Welch.
‘‘Soon afterwards the new owner’s son fell asleep at the wheel, when on his way to Wellington. The right side of the Riley was damaged and it was then abandoned outside for some years, hence the major deterioration.’’ After languishing outside in all weathers, the stricken Riley was then stored for several more years in a shed.
The car’s spell of bad luck ended in 1985 when it was bought back by James Welch, who started a total restoration, with help from the Riley RM Club.
‘‘When I think of all the work that I did on it, my guess would be that I have spent between 2500 and 3000 hours on the project. I spent approximately 150 hours on the interior fascia wood, while the hub caps alone took up 100 hours.’’
James Welch with his restored 1948 Riley RMB in New Zealand before he donated it to Britain’s National Motor Museum.