After a long and honorable existence as an independent manufacturer going back to the dawn of the motoring era and beyond (starting with the bicycle manufacture), the various Riley companies went bust in the 1930’s. Despite producing the successful Brooklands racing car in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, together with a range of attractive road cars, Riley was subsumed into the Nuffield Organization before World War II.
But the marque remained alive and in 1945 new RM Rileys appeared though engines were unchanged from the company’s robust prewar offerings. There were to be the company’s last independently produced cars, though the name lived on in subsequent corporate offering from the British Motor Corporation (BMC). The RM series consisted of the RMA (later RME) saloon, the larger RMB (later RMF) saloon and the delightful and rare RMC (a convertible RMB) and RMD (a drophead coupe). There were two wheelbase lengths, the shorter to take Riley’s famous 1,5 liter engine and the longer for the 2,5 liter “Big Four”. The last of the ‘real’ Rileys was the Riley Pathfinder, which superseded the RMF.
That sounds like a lot of different vehicles, but actually the family resemblance is close and the ﬂowing lines of these ﬁne motor cars makes them instantly recognizable today. The RMs, with sturdy chassis and ash-framed bodywork, were among the last traditional British cars to be made in reasonably large quantities. Steering was by a precise rack-and-pinion system and the front suspension was wishbone and torsion bar. The interior was comfortable and well appointed, whilst handling was good and performance brisk. These attributes made the RM series popular in the 1940s and early 1950s – and extremely desirable to classic car buffs today -but sadly the era of the hand-build car was drawing to a close, taking Riley with it.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1945 (until 1955)
1,496 cc or 2,443 cc Straight Four
Varied by model, but the RMR could reach 90 mph (145 km/h and accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 16.8 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
There is a very active Riley RM owners’ club in Britain that stages annual rallies, often at impressive ‘stately home’ locations like Sandringham, where it’s possible to secure a ride (and perhaps even a drive) in one of these enduring classics.