Beaulieu given Kiwi Ri­ley

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - News - David Brown

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.

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