1954 RI­LEY RME

EN­GINE 1496cc/4-cyl/OHV POWER 55bhp@4500rpm TORQUE 78lb ft@2500rpm MAX­I­MUM SPEED 75mph 0-60MPH 25sec FUEL CON­SUMP­TION 21-28mpg TRANS­MIS­SION RWD, 4-speed man­ual MoT 12 months from sale ODOME­TER 12,957 miles

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying & Selling - Ben Wanklyn

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

Its glam­orous styling, old­fash­ioned dash­board and nar­row front footwells may hark back to an ear­lier age, but this post-war Ri­ley feels as sure­footed as any other 1950s sport­ing sa­loon. The sharp – if not es­pe­cially light – rack-and­pin­ion steer­ing and smooth sus­pen­sion make cor­ner­ing a joy and the 1496cc en­gine per­forms en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. The stubby gear­lever ac­tion is pre­cise but the gear­box de­mands re­spect to avoid crunch­ing when chang­ing down.

BODY­WORK CHECK

The body­work was the sub­ject of an older restora­tion but still looks very sharp. There’s an un­even fin­ish on the off­side rear and near­side front wings and one of the outer sills, but the black-over-ma­roon paint is in good or­der with a deep shine and no signs of cor­ro­sion in the outer pan­els. The vinyl roof cov­er­ing is ex­cel­lent and all four doors and each of the twin bon­nets open and close eas­ily. The clean un­der­side has solid chas­sis mem­bers and floor­pans but the paint is start­ing to peel in places. The ex­ten­sive bright­work is com­plete and in good con­di­tion.

HOW’S THE IN­TE­RIOR?

It’s hard to imag­ine a more wel­com­ing and beau­ti­fully pre­served in­te­rior, with first class red leather seat faces com­ple­mented by match­ing door cards and as-new car­pets. None of the wooden door cap­pings are dam­aged and each has ex­cel­lent ve­neer, like­wise the im­pos­ing dash­board, which is let down only by mi­nor crack­ing to one cor­ner. The cloth head­lin­ing is un­marked and the sprung steer­ing wheel rim has been pro­fes­sion­ally re­painted at some point. The gold-faced di­als all func­tion as they should, but the pe­riod ra­dio doesn’t work.

UN­DER THE BON­NET

This Ri­ley hasn’t been used for a cou­ple of years but will be MoT’d be­fore sale. The en­gine is re­luc­tant to idle, sug­gest­ing a tweak to the SU car­bu­ret­tor may be in or­der, but the 1496cc en­gine runs smoothly oth­er­wise, keeps its cool in traf­fic and pulls strongly with­out com­plaint, show­ing a healthy 60psi of oil pres­sure when un­der load. There’s a slight oil weep from the gear­box, but it op­er­ates qui­etly and pre­cisely and the clutch is smooth. There are no rat­tles or knocks from the sus­pen­sion and the brakes pull the car up straight and true. They are a lit­tle sticky through lack of use but this will be rec­ti­fied be­fore sale.

THE CCW VIEW

This is a hand­some and el­e­gant tra­di­tional clas­sic that is in very good or­der and re­quires lit­tle at­ten­tion. It is rea­son­ably priced for the amount of style and so­phis­ti­ca­tion it of­fers and looks much more ex­pen­sive than it re­ally is. It’s a fine his­toric sports sa­loon that should do any new owner proud, and re­ward much more use.

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