1935-1938 RI­LEY 12/4 KESTREL LIGHT

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - 7 Of The Best Pre-war Classics - Mike Le Caplain

Mo­tor magazine’s Jan­uary 12 1937 road-test de­scribed the Ri­ley Kestrel Sprite as ‘the ideal form of trans­port for the man, or woman, who ap­pre­ci­ates fast travel and the at­tributes of a thor­oughly mod­ern sports car.’ Noth­ing has changed. From the el­e­gant stream­lined body to the stylish and spa­cious in­te­rior, it’s the sort of car in which you could still gen­uinely imag­ine cross­ing con­ti­nents. Many pre-war cars feel rather floaty and vague, but the Ri­ley’s high-geared steer­ing and strong brakes – not to men­tion its quick-act­ing pre­s­e­lec­tor gear­box – make it feel like a fo­cused car ten years younger. Charm per­son­i­fied.

BUY­ING TIPS

BET­TER IF IT’S ALL THERE Scruffy bod­ies can be re­freshed, but buy an in­com­plete car at your peril – trim and some body pan­els are hard to come by now.

PARTS SUP­PORT Iffy me­chan­i­cals aren’t the end of the world, be­cause spares sup­port is sur­pris­ingly good. Spe­cial­ists, such as Brook­lands Engine Craft (brook­land­sen­ginecraft.co.uk), are in­valu­able to the Kestrel owner.

AL­TER­NA­TOR Swap­ping the orig­i­nal dy­namo for a mod­ern al­ter­na­tor im­proves start­ing and al­lows you to use lights, wipers, etc si­mul­ta­ne­ously with­out any wor­ries.

WHAT TO PAY CON­COURS £35,000+ // GOOD £20,000-25,000 // US­ABLE £14,000-18,000 // PROJECT £5000-10,000

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