1951 Riley RMB
The last model to be independently developed by Riley before they merged with BMC in 1952, the RM was a great looking car that excelled as a comfortable long-distance cruiser. While the RMA and RME made do with a 1.5-litre engine, the RMB and its successor, the RMF, had the 2.5-litre 'Big-Four' with twin camshafts mounted high at the sides of the cylinder block, hemispherical combustion chambers and twin SU carbs.
Described by The Motor as offering "Sports car performance with town carriage manners", the RMB was rated at 100bhp, the four-speed gearbox giving the big saloon a top speed just a whisker shy of the magic ton. Coachbuilt in the traditional way with a luxurious interior, excellent ride and roadholding, the RMB proved very popular with middle class buyers, also proving a big favourite with the police. Around 6,900 were sold between 1946 and 1952, the first cars built in Coventry with production moving to the MG works at Abingdon in 1949.
This Abingdon-built RMB was first registered in Birmingham in July 1951 and was in regular use until 1963 when it was put into storage. A Riley Club member in Anglesey, Peter Abbot, then acquired the car in 1990 and promptly set about a total nut-and-bolt restoration which was to take nine years to complete, fully documented by a vast number of photos and invoices on file. This included a major engine rebuild with a +0.20" rebore, reground crank and con rods modified to take shell bearings.
Finally returned to the road in September 1999, it has since covered 28,700 miles with every journey carefully recorded in a notebook which also details every penny spent on petrol and maintenance. Many of these journeys have been on Riley Club events including tours of Scotland and Ireland, the notebook recording that it does about 23mpg at a steady 60/70mph on the motorway and that the fuel consumption never drops below 18mpg.
A fellow Riley Club member, our vendor acquired the car in 2017 and has maintained it regardless of cost ever since. This included a second engine rebuild due to a piston fault so four new pistons have been fitted and new big end bearings. A new clutch was also fitted along with rebuilt oil and water pumps, new SU fuel pump, recored radiator, electric cooling fan, uprated cabin heater, polybushed front suspension, new wiring loom, stainless steel exhaust, rear axle hub oil seals plus much else besides. The car has only covered around 500 miles since the second engine rebuild and while the 20/50 oil was changed just before the auction, the vendor recommends that the car be treated gently for another 500 miles before the performance is exploited to the full.
During the vendor’s ownership all the brightwork has also been renewed or replated, the front seats recovered in top grade leather (rear seats are vinyl), the Damask Red paintwork refreshed, five new Michelin X tyres fitted and a Kenwood CD player installed. To show the attention to detail, even the speedo has been rebuilt to cure the characteristic Riley ‘waver’ – you get the picture!
Documentation includes a V5C, a green logbook from 1973, an original workshop manual and enough photos, invoices, correspondence and technical literature to keep you happily engrossed for hours.
Driven some 50 miles to the sale, the car is now in exemplary condition throughout (winning First in Class at the Ludlow Show last year) and you would be hard pressed to find a better example. It is only reluctantly for sale due to an imminent house move and consequent loss of storage.
For more information on this Lot please contact James Dennison on 07970 309907.
Reg No: 369NOK
Chassis Number: 61S8765
Engine Number: RMB7531
Engine Size: 2443
Hammer Price (inc. buyers premium)
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