1937 Riley 1½-Litre 12/4 Kestrel/Sprite Special Sports   Chassis no. S527K5855 Engine no. SSK5855
Lot 508
1937 Riley 1½-Litre 12/4 Kestrel/Sprite Special Sports Chassis no. S527K5855 Engine no. SSK5855
Sold for £26,450 (US$ 44,457) inc. premium
Lot Details
1937 Riley 1½-Litre 12/4 Kestrel/Sprite Special Sports
Registration no. FV 8517
Chassis no. S527K5855
Engine no. SSK5855


  • Introduced in 1926, Percy Riley's 9hp, 1,087cc twin-camshaft four was an outstanding engine design by any standards, various versions powering Rileys until 1957. Clothed in stylish bodywork by Stanley Riley, the Coventry marque's pre-war offerings were among the world's finest small-capacity sporting cars.
    Percy Riley's proven twin-camshaft layout was retained for the new Hugh Rose-designed 1½-litre four introduced in 1935. The Falcon saloon made its debut on this new 12hp chassis, which was also available with the familiar Kestrel saloon and Lynx tourer coachwork. The following year the range was augmented by the Sprite two-seater sports and three more saloons: the Adelphi and six-light Kestrel on the 112.5" long-wheelbase chassis and the shorter-wheelbase (106") all-steel Merlin. In Standard trim the 1.5-litre 12/4 engine produced 45/46bhp with single Zenith carburettor. The Special Series came with twin SUs and 52bhp while at the top of the range was the 59/61bhp Sprite specification engine that added £48 to the car's purchase price. In its 'T T' guise the new Sprite more than upheld Riley's sporting traditions, winning the Ulster Tourist Trophy in both 1935 and 1936 with the legendary Freddie Dixon at the wheel, while there were numerous privateer successes at Brooklands and elsewhere.
    'FV 8517' started life as a Kestrel saloon fitted with the Sprite-type engine and was modified circa 1985 to two-seater Sprite specification with shortened chassis (to the Sprite/MPH's 97.5" wheelbase) and all-alloy coachwork by Dick Cookson. The car has the ENV Wilson pre-selector four-speed gearbox; Girling mechanical rod-operated brakes; new 18" centre-lock wheels; new hubs and half-shafts; 5.22:1 final drive; and new electrics with remote battery isolator switch. Other noteworthy features include full instrumentation incorporating Jaeger 5" tachometer and speedometer; interior heater with fan; and full weather protection (hood, side screens and tonneau).
    The current owner purchased the Riley at Bonhams' Beaulieu sale in September 2006 (Lot 444), since when it has been used regularly. Benefiting from a full service by marque specialist David Brown carried out in the spring of 2102, the car is described as 'on the button and a pleasure to drive.' Recorded in the Riley Register (certificate no. 715), 'FV 8517' is VSCC accepted (form no. 10763) and comes with sundry restoration invoices and photographs, current MoT/tax and Swansea V5C registration document. This is a post-Vintage sports car capable of fast touring, which turns heads wherever it goes.
  1. John Polson
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