Beaulieu given Kiwi Riley
A 1948 Riley RMB has been shipped from New Zealand at the expense of its owner to take its place at the UK’s National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.
James Welch, who has known the car for much of its life, donated the Riley to the museum ‘where the staff treated me as if I was royalty’.
The remarkable story of the 2.5-litre car begins when it was exported to a dealer in Bern, Switzerland, before going to the Reinboldt & Christé coachworks in Basle for body modifications.
James’ father Pat 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. Pat ran the car at hill climbs and races, accompanied by his son. It won first prize in a saloon car race and was retired from competitions in 1960. After the car was sold in 1970 it was damaged in an accident and left outdoors for several years.
Self-confessed Riley nut James bought the car back in 1985 and began its full restoration, with help from the Riley RM Club. He spent up to 100 hours on the hub caps alone.
The Riley returned to the road in 2007 with just 55,000 miles on the odometer. James covered another 5000 miles before deciding to pass the car on.
‘I am 74 and with no beneficiaries,’ he explains. ‘I had dreamed that this car, because of its rarity, should go to a place where it can be exhibited for all to see.’
Kind-hearted owner James Welch next to his Riley in New Zealand.