The Riley Brooklands - historical background:
Already at its debut in 1926 the brilliantly constructed Riley "9hp" motor with its overhead camshafts and the hemispheric combustion chambers 1087 cc attracted the attention of racing driver J.G. Parry-Thomas. Together with his fellow Reid Railton he constructed a competitive racing car for the then popular 1100 cc racing class (Class G) with the racing stable of Thompson & Taylor producing a purposeful chassis. Numerous successes as generated instantly on the London circuit of Brooklands convinced Percy Riley to start production of a small series himself with the so called "9hp speed model". The frame was unique to the new model, showing a typical bend down behind the front axle and passes under the rear axle in the so-called underslung construction to ensure a low center of gravity. The 9hp motor was been modified for the Brooklands versions with higher compression pistons, along with sharper camshafts and two horizontal SU carburettors and a quad exhaust manifold and a special oil and water pump, which was powered by the same shaft as the magneto ignition. This way the engine delivered up to 50 bhp from only 1087 cc. This, by then a sensational power output, all together with the low weight (740 kg), made the car very quick and gave a sharp handling. Approximately 80 mph were promised by the factory. But hardly a Brooklands remained in factory specification; Axles and engines were tuned for example using lightweight magnesium brakes and central locking wheels, up to four carburettors were fixed, the lamps, fenders and panels were removed and the chassis was drilled everywhere to save weight. This way 100 mph and more became possible.
The racing success of the Riley Brooklands was impressive and was celebrated in the British motor press frenetically. Numerous Brooklands victories and world records in the Class G, a class-win in the RAC Tourist Trophy in 1932, victory in the Ulster Tourist Trophy and a victory in the JCC 1000 miles race in Ards are to its account. Its success culminated at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1934 ranking 2, 3, 5, 6, 12 and 13 in the overall classification, class victory in the 1.1 litre class and winning the Rudge-Whitworth Cup.
About 110 vehicles (the exact number is not known) were produced between 1927 and 1932, the first ones by Thompson & Taylor directly at the circuit of Brooklands, later ones at the works of Riley Motors in Coventry. The latter were given the chassis numbers 8001-8093. Various designs were offered: some as a pure-bred, spartan race car with a full aluminium body without doors, equipped with removable cycle wings and small Brooklands aero screens, as well as a short pointed tail. Others were built as a sports car for the road and were fitted with a wooden substructure underneath the aluminium skin with a slightly longer tail. The latter were provided with a full windshield, long wings, doors and a foldable hood. The Riley was first named the "9hp Speed Model", then "Brooklands Speed Model" and finally just "Brooklands".
About the car
The Brooklands on offer here was meticulously built between 2004 and 2007 by the well-known UK Riley specialists Allen Clear as a sibling to his own 1930s racing version using original Brooklands or correctly modified 9 parts only. The door-less body with its shorter pintail has been painted in the typical blue-green colour and is made of lightweight aluminium without any wooden under-construction. The MK-7 engine (No. 45180) was completely rebuilt with correct Omega pistons, sharper camshafts, as well as a Brooklands water pump and – magneto, delivering approx. 50bhp. The twin SU carburettors were overhauled and fitted with new needles and seals. The original Brooklands radiator has been completely restored and soldered with a new honeycomb grid. The non-synchromesh Silent-Third-gearbox is revised with correct new gears and features the crisp Brooklands remote gear lever. The large Le-Mans-fuel tank is also new and made out of aluminium and shows the typical quick release filler cap with metal wings as used for the racing version (the sports car version of the Brooklands had a "Mickey Mouse-version" of this cap, i.e. a chromed metal casting with two spherical wingtips). The axles and brakes, as well as the Hartford shock absorbers were also overhauled. Also the steering is original Brooklands and has the correct three-spoke steering wheel with the two adjusting levers for ignition and throttle. The dash is equipped with the original Rotax-switch panel and contains in addition to the correct Jeager tachometer also gauges for water temperature and oil pressure. For admission in Germany turn signals and hazard lights were retrofitted together with a matching Jaeger original speedometer. The car is still wearing the original 6-holes spoke wheels with period-style Blockley tyres. The seats are covered in grey leather with grey piping. The car comes with a dividable bespoke tonneau of black fabric that could by fixed single-sided for racing purposes (see pictures). A practical storage net for the tonneau is located behind the back rest. To register the unstamped Brooklands chassis a chassis number (No. 6021897) of a 1933 Riley Falcon was donated.
Whereas this Riley Brooklands as so-called "Bitsa" is lacking of course some racing history, it nevertheless corresponds exactly to the original Brooklands in its factory specification without the usual later modifications. Thus, it differs significantly from many "Specials" on the market.
Length 14.93 ft., width 3.97 ft., weight 740 kg (all approximately).
Whilst Brooklands with race history and in good condition achieve already up to 140,000 Euros on the market, I hereby offer my car at a price of 78,000 Euros.
How does it go?
Well, I could summarize it with "loud, demanding and stormy". But to the details nevertheless: getting into it over the low side wall and behind the wheel is surprisingly easy – the chance for winning any Le-Mans-Start is well given as tested many times. Despite the short car dimensions even 6 ft. tall people fit comfortable behind the wheel. Two average-sized people could comfortably share the cockpit on a one day rally.
The seating position is upright with just the right distance to the steering wheel. The pedals are exactly where the feet immediately find them. The steering is very directly and without any play. Straight ahead is safe even at high speeds. The steering forces are low helped by the low overall weight of approx. 740 kg. The pedal forces of brake and clutch are very moderate, the vehicle slows down with its four cable operated drum brake safely and evenly. The 4-speed gearbox is a reversed H (1st right) and can be operated via the short remote lever very slightly, once you got used to double declutching action. The non-synchronized gearbox in the footwell is typically noisy; however, it gets drowned easily by the even louder exhaust barking. The lively little engine correspondents joyfully well to the throttle and leaves acoustically no doubt about its potency. The rigid axles are passing road conditions almost unfiltered to the driver and at speeds of 70mph the wind in the cockpit blows like a hurricane. And indeed some air flow is required for the car because, due to the original specification, no radiator fan cares for the cooling. Fortunately the restored radiator is very efficient so only extremely hot days and traffic jams are showing the limits.
This vehicle is - not only for a pre-war car - extremely reliable and easy to maintain. The supply of spare parts through the Riley Register is excellent. The engine start even after longer periods with just a few turns of the electric starter, once warmed up it starts on the button, and idles evenly with good oil pressure. The Riley has proven an absolutely trouble-free and robust vehicle that has demonstrated its fun potential since many years and in many rallies. After each tour, however, you have to plug in the charger as this car has, another original specification, no alternator. But don't worry: thanks to magneto ignition the engine produces its ignition power itself, the battery is used for the fuel pump only (and, if necessary, the lighting) and has proven endurable for several days of rallying.