﹒Last of the pre-BMC Rileys from final year of production ﹒Comprehensive history including buff logbook ﹒Significant mechanical overhaul just 3,000 miles ago ﹒Exceptional retrimmed interior
The RMF was the last of the Rileys to be introduced before BMC took over the company in 1953, bringing to an end 63 years of independent car production.
It was based on – and looked identical to – the 1.5-litre RME, but it was notably more powerful using the 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine from the RMB Limousine with a creditable 85bhp, which was quite a power output in 1953. The RMF was a luxury car, a step below the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce, but on a par with the likes of Rover and Armstrong-Siddeley, with a beautifully art-deco interior and exceptional quality – something that many believed was left behind with the introduction of the Pathfinder that succeeded it.
The RMF was relatively short-lived – the production run was just 20 months between 1952 and 1953, making it one of the rarest models to wear the classic Riley badge.
This example is a lovely and largely original car, which has been sympathetically repaired and recommissioned during its life, a story backed up by a hugely comprehensive history file. It has been repainted and retrimmed, but never fully gutted and restored.
The current owner has another Riley and several car and motorcycle projects and no longer has room to store the RMF inside, so has very reluctantly decided to sell it.
This car has an incredible history, which is backed up by lots of paperwork. It comes with the original buff logbook showing that it was supplied new to a Mr Alfred Wagstaff of Ramsey in Cambridgeshire, which backs up the originality of the MEW 300 registration number (itself valued at over £2,500) as a Peterborough denomination.
It then sold to a Mr Bradley in Stamford, Lincs, in 1960, before moving much further away to Swindon in 1962. In 1964 it went to a Mr Whitaker in Cheltenham, who sold it to a Mr Watkins in Stroud. It then came back to the East of England in the early 2000s to a Mr and Mrs Jeavons in Essex, before its current owner acquired it in 2017. It received a comprehensive engine overhaul in 2017 to bring it back to fully tip-top mechanical condition.
Where to start? As well as the buff logbook, and V5 documents in the name of the past three keepers to back up its more recent history, the Riley has MOT certificates dating back to 1979 and two folders full of bills, both recent and historic. They document all the work carried out recently in the mechanical overhaul, previous body repairs, shotblasting and powder coating of the wheels and a full interior retrim with parts sourced from Woolies, a well-known provider of period interior trim.
The cabin of the Riley is beautiful, cream with green carpets, all of which are in exceptional order as the car was fully retrimmed, professionally, in the care of its previous owner. The effect is lovely – it’s in superb condition, but not over-restored so it retains a pleasant patina that adds to the car’s general aura.
The clock has been converted to a rev counter but retains its art-deco backing, while the light wood dash and cream dials, with suitably period fonts on the dials, give it a real sense of occasion. It’s a wonderful car in which to sit and take in the senses and smells of a bygone era, which has been done sympathetically rather than over-restored. The vendor reports that the heater works, but the fan blower currently doesn’t.
Overall, the Riley is in fine order – it looks great from all angles and there are no majot structural concerns either with the body, chassis or wooden frame.
The black over green paintwork really suits it and it’s an extremely handsome car, but it isn’t concours. To get it to that level would require a full respray, as the paint has some swirl marks and microblisters, as well as score marks under the paint where previous repairs have been carried out. They’re minor and not visible unless under close scrutiny, so if you want a smart, handsome and well-presented example this shouldn’t put you off. It’s a fine-looking car overall, but it’s not completely free of blemishes.
The paint appears to have been done around 25 years ago, so it’s an older restoration that has been cherished and well looked after ever since, but although it still looks fabulous, it isn’t perfect. Nor does it make any pretensions to be – it’s a lovely and adorable care as it is, and for many that will be enough especially as the structural condition appears to be very sound. And the history adds extra charm, too.
The RMF has undergone a pretty thorough mechanical overhaul in recent times, including a rebore with new pistons and rings, along with a new timing chain and tensioner. The main bearings and big ends were within tolerance so were left alone. Both the oil and water pumps were reconditioned and a modern oil filter conversion fitted. It also received a cylinder head decoke and descale, the valves were ground and the block descaled with new core plugs fitted. The radiator was flushed and pressure tested.
The clutch is in good condition, with a new thrust bearing fitted and the vendor says it goes in all gears easily, while the clutch shaft universal joint was replaced. New brake cylinders were fitted and the master cylinder sleeved with new seals. It has also had its rear brake shoes re-lined, a full stainless steel exhaust system and four new Michelin X tyres.
This is a gorgeous car with a lovely patina and a huge history file, which comes complete with its original registration number. It oozes charm and character, is mechanically absolutely spot on and is well known within Riley RMF circles.
The bodywork is good and looks great, the interior is exceptional and it has a history if being loved and well cared-for, which the next owner will be privileged to carry on.
As early post-war classics go, it has bags of appeal.
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