Genuine Brooklands model from 60-year ownership; possible Parry Thomas
and Victor Gillow connections; on the button; well-known car with an interesting
story to tell
The vendor of this Brooklands Riley acquired it in January 1963 following a chance conversation with his friend Brian Millard who had spotted it for sale alongside a racing Riley engine he was buying from a gent in Aylesbury.
A copy of a letter from the seller to Mr Millard details the items he was selling, listed the parts acquired by the vendor as follows - and all for the princely sum of £75.
He bought a Brooklands chassis, five wheels and tyres, a high-ratio rear axle, gearbox with remote control, complete front axle, Jaeger rev counter 0-8,000, steering wheel plus column and mounting, a stripped engine and a set of cycle wings.
His note states that this was all from a car built by Reid Railton for Parry Thomas - the parts being located at the vendor's parents house in Mayfield Avenue, Weybridge - a stone's throw from the Brooklands track.
The body had been cut off leaving the base of the body still attached (some of which remains and is included in the sale) adding credence to the car being a genuine Brooklands model. The chassis had been boxed and modified and the bolts holding the body had rusted in place, saving this vital bit of evidence.
The rest of the body was not a factory type and the radiator had been cowled - a common modification. The dismantled engine had a big sump with a tall filler (known as a rat trap) and a water pump. The axle also had a taller 4.33:1 ratio - ideal for the outer circuit.
The seller, back in 1963 relayed the story that the car was built by Reid Railton for Parry Thomas, and that a neighbour of his parents had worked for Thomson and Taylor and recognised the chassis strengthening and drilling on the handbrake.
Well-known Riley exponent Neville Farquahar had put in a lot of research into the history of racing Brooklands Rileys and came to inspect GGP 670. His view was that it was the car driven by Harold Walter Purdy.
It is interesting to note that the car does not carry a Riley chassis number, but it carries the stamp B7 which follows the series given to the cars built by Victor Gillow. Gillow, a well-known racing driver and builder and dealer in racing cars, ran a stable of racing Rileys for hire out of Brooklands circuit, until the M.A.P had them removed at the start of the war. The car was first registered on 21st October 1940 according to the buff logbook, the GP registration number being issued by Gillow's local licencing office.
The car was fully rebuilt by the vendor over a period of many years, being driven to the 75th Anniversary of Whitcroft's win in a Brooklands Riley at the 1932 Ards TT. It has been driven regularly on the road ever since.
There was not enough of the original body to restore, so a lightweight aluminium body was fitted in the style of the later racing bodies with forward mounted headlights. The vendor, in anticipation of long-term ownership took the opportunity to add a driver's door!!
The engine has a standard crank, high compression pistons, Nev Farquahar cams and KE805 rockers. The twin SUs are 28mm. The gearbox has a close-ratio gearset and the diff is currently a 5.25:1 ratio although the original 4.33:1 cwp and some other original parts accompany the car. These include some of the ash frame, a BTH Magneto, dynamo, aluminium oil breather tower and some brackets.
In very smart order, this Brooklands Riley looks to have had a very interesting early life, in and around the Brooklands track at Weybridge, has been comprehensively restored and comes from 60-year ownership.
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