Riley Motor, United Kingdom

Riley Motor, United Kingdom

Riley Motor, U.K.



Coventry, England


Riley was British Motor Company Ltd manufactured bicycle and motor car vehicles from 1890. It became part of Nuffield organization since 1938 by William Morris and in 1968 it merges into the British Leyland Motor Corporation. Since July, 1969 British Leyland announced the immediate end of Riley production, the Riley trademark is owned by BMW. The company headquartered is situated in Coventry, England, the key people of the company are William Riley (1851 to 1944), William Victor Riley (1876 to 1958), Allan Riley (1880), Percy Riley (1882 to 1941) and Cecil Riley (1895) etc.



Riley Cycle Company

The business began as the Bonnick Cycle Company of Coventry, England. In 1890 during the pedal cycle craze that swept Britain at the end of the 19th century William Riley Jr. who had interests in the textile industry purchased the business and in 1896 incorporated a company to own it named The Riley Cycle Company Limited. He created his first car at 16, since 1898, secretly, because his father did not approve. It featured the first mechanically operated inlet valve. By 1899, Percy Riley moved from producing motorcycles to his first prototype four-wheeled quadricycle. Little is known about Percy Riley's first "motor-car". It is, however, well attested that the engine featured mechanically operated cylinder valves at a time when other engines depended on the vacuum effect of the descending piston to suck the inlet valve(s) open.

Riley's founder William Riley remained resolutely opposed to diverting the resources of his bicycle business into motor cars, and in 1902 three of his sons, Victor, Percy and younger brother Allan Riley pooled resources, borrowed a necessary balancing amount from their mother and in 1903 established the separate Riley Engine Company, also in Coventry.


Riley (Coventry) Limited

The first new model, the 17/30, was introduced at the London Motor Show that year. Soon afterwards, Stanley Riley established yet other business, the Nero Engine Company, to produce his own 4-cylinder 10 hp (7.5 kW) car. Riley also began manufacturing aero plane engines and became a key supplier in Britain's buildup for World War I. In 1918, after the war, the Riley companies were restructured. Nero joined Riley (Coventry) as the sole producer of automobiles. Riley Motor Manufacturing under the control of Allan Riley became Midland Motor Bodies, a coachbuilder for Riley. Riley Engine Company continued under Percy as the engine supplier. At this time, Riley's blue diamond badge, designed by Harry Rush, also appeared. The motto was "As old as the industry, as modern as the hour."

Riley proceeds sharply through the 1920s and 1930s. The Riley Engine Company created 4, 6, and 8-cylinder engines, while Midland manufactures more than a dozen different bodies. Riley models at this time included

  • Saloons : Adelphi, 'Continental'(Close-coupled Touring Saloon), Deauville, Falcon, Kestrel, Mentone, Merlin, Monaco, Stelvio, Victor
  • Coupes : Ascot, Lincock
  • Tourers : Alpine, Lynx, Gamecock
  • Sports : Brook lands, Imp, MPH, Sprite
  • Limousines : Edinburgh, Winchester


Nuffield Organization

Riley started to look to other manufacturers for partnerships in 1937. A contract with Briggs Motor Bodies of Dagenham to give all-steel bodies for a cheaper, more mass-market saloon had before turned sour, with many of unsold bodies littering the factory. It had excluded from works racing after its most successful year, 1934, although it constant to supply engines for the ERA, a voiturette (Formula 2) racing car based on the supercharged 6-cylinder 'White Riley', established by ERA creator Raymond Mays in the mid-thirties. BMW of Munich, Germany was involved in expanding its series into England. The RMC, a 3-seater roadster was an unavailing effort to break into the American market, while the RMD was an elegant 4/5-seater two-door drophead, of which again few were created. The 1.5L RME and 2.5-litre RMF were later rising of the saloon versions, which continued in production into the mid-fifties.

In 1947, Victor Riley was deflected by Nuffield. In early 1949 the Coventry works were made an extension of Morris Motors' engine branch. Riley production was seamless with MG at Abingdon.


List of Riley vehicles

Pre-World War I

  • Riley 9 (1907–1911)
  • Riley 12 (1907–1907)
  • Riley 10 (1909–1914)
  • Riley 12/18 (1908–1914)
  • Riley 10 (1915–1916)


Inter-war years

  • Riley 17/30 (1913–1922)
  • Riley Eleven (1919–1924)
  • Riley Twelve (1925–1928)
  • Riley Nine (1926–1937)
  • Riley 14/6 (1929–1934)





  • RMC (1948–1951)
  • RMD (1949–1951)



  • Elf (Mini) (1961–1969)



  • RME (1952–1955)
  • 4/Sixty-Eight (Wolseley 15/60) (1959–1961)



  • RMB (1946–1952 )
  • RMF (1952–1953 )
  • Pathfinder (1953–1957 )


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