Riley RM's

Riley introduced an entirely new  post-war model in September 1945. The engine was not much different from that of the pre-war 1½-Litre unit giving 54 bhp and a top speed of 75 mph. The new chassis featured Torsionic IFS with torsion bars. Rear suspension was by semi elliptics with a torque tube axle, and brakes were hydro mechanical. The body, too, was of an entirely new design. Cubic capacity of the engine was 1496 cc. Wheelbase was 9 ft 4½ in.

The Riley RM Series was an 'executive car' which was produced by Riley from 1945 to 1955. It was the last model developed independently by Riley prior to the 1952 full merger of Riley's still new owner Nuffield, with Austin to form BMC. The RM series was originally produced in Coventry, but in 1949 production moved to the MG works at Abingdon. The RM models were marketed as the Riley 1½ Litre and the Riley 2½ Litre. There were three types of RM vehicles produced. The RMA was a large saloon, and was replaced by the RME. The RMB was a longer car to carry the larger engine and was replaced by the RMF. The RMC and RMD were limited-production cars, an open 2 or 3-seater Roadster and a 4-seater Drophead. All of the RM vehicles featured the pre-war Riley race developed 1.5 L (1496 cc) 12 hp (RAC Rating) or the successful 1937 new 16 hp (RAC Rating) 2.5 L "Big Four" straight-4 engines with hemispherical combustion chambers and twin camshafts mounted high at the sides of the cylinder block.

During the period of the production run of post-war Rileys, the letters RM (for Riley Motors) with an alphabetical suffix (denoting the model) were applied to the model as a means of identification: RMA 1945 - 1952 (late) 1½ litre saloon RMB 1946 - 1952 (late) 2½ litre saloon RMC 1948 - 1950 2½ litre roadster RMD 1948 - 1950 2½ litre drophead coupe RME 1952 (late) - 1955 1½ litre saloon RMF 1952 (late) - 1953 2½ litre saloon RMH 1954 - 1957 2½ litre Pathfinder saloon Approximately 23,000 cars were produced in the series RMA - RMF of which about 500 were Roadsters and a further 500 Dropheads. The final car of the series and the only one with a name was the Pathfinder, or RMH of which approximately 5000 were produced.

Between 1966 and 1968 a series of mergers took place in the British motor industry, ultimately creating the British Leyland Motor Corporation, whose management embarked on a programme of rationalisation—in which the Riley marque was an early casualty. The badge began to be discontinued in many export markets almost immediately. A BLMC press release was reported in The Times of 9 July 1969: "British Leyland will stop making Riley cars from today. "With less than 1 per cent of the home market, they are not viable" the company said last night. The decision will end 60 years of motoring history. No other marques in the British Leyland stable are likely to suffer the same fate "in the foreseeable future". (Riley had been  a British motorcar and bicycle manufacturer since 1890.)

When this was announced John Byron had asked re the spares and sent three letters in to Lord Stokes etc offering to purchase the remaining spares but the eventual reply was that they were not worth selling. The next he knew he had a message from a  fellow RM owner and Birmingham policeman that Stokes had instructed for them to be buried irretrievably but in the ways of such things they had been sold in three batches for 'backhanders' rather than buried ( money talks). They tried to get the Motor club interested but the feeling then was that RM's were not real Rileys but post war badged cars only (wrong check the Riley twelve and the dropheads/roadsters especially ) and Arnold Farrar etc became quite brusque. John  pursued the spares and found all Girling parts went to one dealer which after a weekend sorting into makes for the dealer resulted in the entire RM stock being seriously cheap. The engines had gone to a dealer  working from an old cinema in Chiswick where he exported any cheap engine to South America, Africa India etc where they would build a car around the engine and only a few purchased due to space. Many body parts and panels plus those of other makes went to a third dealer with many being sold to coachbuilders nationwide  on the cheap so Butler lamps ended up on Glasgow buses and torpedo lamps on  the roof the wares of Leyland Truck n'Bus

In July August 1969 John added an advert in the Exchange and mart 'Riley' section asking any local RM owners to contact him to form a club with himself and James Atkinson organising. The first meeting was the old bungalow at Iver Heath with all local car owners personally invited ( all came so a tad cramped and tea was drunk more than beer). As the numbers grew the meetings of the fledgling club went from an Iver Heath meeting to one at Wraysbury  with John, James Atkinson, John Horn, Eddie Smith, Roger Lamb etc and some of the scruffiest still driving Rileys coming down from Witney, Oxford, south London even Essex (pre M25). The next meeting  I attended was 1972 Abingdon in the gloomiest pub known to man ( think Munsters) with an outside loo you needed to ask for the key to use it, refusal to serve women ( ladies do not drink etc) but a private free carpark down the road from the old factory.. . . the rest became history

From those days the club has expanded worldwide with the capacity to sell newly manufactured parts to keep the cars going. Yes the steering is heavy and the brakes not instant but take a classic down a motorway or the latest computerised /abs/ecu/whistles and bells car and see which is most fun.