1929 Riley Brooklands
Lot 235
The ex-Riley works, Bob Gerard, A F Ashby,1929 Riley Brooklands Monoposto Chassis no. 8052
£80,000 - 100,000
US$ 120,000 - 160,000
Amended

Lot Details
1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands 1929 Riley Brooklands
The ex-Riley works, Bob Gerard, A F Ashby
1929 Riley Brooklands Monoposto
Registration no. VE 4847
Chassis no. 8052

Footnotes

  • 'Almost as soon as these new (9hp) models arrived on the scene, interest was shown in the engine by J G Parry-Thomas, who joined forces with Reid Railton to produce an 1,100cc racing chassis which Railton drove to undreamed-of success at Brooklands. Later, after Thompson and Taylor had developed the chassis, Riley put into production the 9hp Speed Model, which quickly became a legend as the Brooklands Nine. It was a Brooklands Nine which won the Rudge Whitworth Cup at Le Mans in 1934.' - As Old As The Industry: Riley 1898 - 1969, David G Styles.
    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, none more so than the rare and highly desirable Brooklands Speed Model, 110 of which were made between 1928 and 1932. The production Brooklands boasted a chassis shortened to an 8' wheelbase from the standard Nine's 8' 10.5" and was low-slung in the extreme, it being possible for the driver to touch the ground while normally seated at the wheel! Body construction varied considerably, ranging from wood-framed, steel-panelled, two-door types intended for touring, to the lightweight, door-less, alloy ones used at Le Mans. The engine differed from the standard Nine's by virtue of its water pump, high-compression pistons, different camshafts, four-branch exhaust manifold and twin carburettors, in which form it produced around 50bhp at 5,000 rpm.
    The Brooklands was enthusiastically received by the British motor racing fraternity as it provided a most competitive entry into the 1,100cc sports car class (Class G), hitherto dominated by Continental makes. As well as the aforementioned 1934 team award at Le Mans, Riley Brooklands successes included various Class G world records, a class win in the RAC Tourist Trophy, an outright win at the 1932 Ulster Tourist Trophy and victory in the JCC 1,000 Miles Race and countless other events at Brooklands.

    Riley Brooklands authority Barbara Farquar has confirmed that ex-works chassis number '8052' was the factory's practice car at the 1930 Ards TT and originally carried the registration 'VC 834', a Coventry mark issued in June 1929. (One of the factory entries at Ards in 1930 was 'VC 835', competitor number '43'). In January 1930 the Brooklands had been sold to well-known Riley competitor A F Ashby who registered the car as 'VE 4847' and campaigned it extensively (see period photographs on file). Races included BARC Whitsun Trophy Meeting at Brooklands in 1933, hill climbing at Shelsley Walsh and Branches Park to name but a few. Ashby then sold the Riley to Bob Gerard in 1935. Frederick Roberts 'Bob' Gerard served his racing apprenticeship in Rileys during the 1930s and after WW2 became famous following a string of successes driving the ERAs 'R4A' and 'R14B', which included 3rd place in the 1948 British Grand Prix. One of the most respected competitors of his era, Gerard switched to more modern Coopers and although there would be few more international successes, he continued winning at national level well into the 1950s. There is correspondence on file between Gerard and the Riley's other owners.

    Known while in Gerard's ownership as the 'Silver Bullet', '8052' was campaigned by Bob's wife Joan using various engines, both supercharged and normally aspirated, and manual or pre-selector gearboxes. This has been confirmed by Shelsley Walsh historian David Moore and there are contemporary photographs on file together with a letter from F R Gerard dated 1st November 1965 confirming that Joan drove the Riley at Prescott to within 0.06 of the ladies' record.


    The Riley was advertised in the March 1951 edition of Autosport with a specification sheet listing all the special items fitted. It was purchased by a Francis Tiedman via Mr L Parry. Mr Tiedman kept the car until Stanley Burville bought it in 1960. Around 1961 A J R Bailey acquired the Riley, selling it on to K C Young of Bromley, Kent. Bob Upston bought the car in the early 1970s and rebuilt it to correct 'Silver Bullet' specification. This included restoration of the Riley Sprite high performance engine, a Bob Gerard racing unit that is fitted with a special cylinder head incorporating very large inlet valves and inclined spark plugs. Other noteworthy features include a special crankshaft, ERA connecting rods, Cromard cylinder liners, ERA-type oil and water pumps, Scintilla magneto, large ribbed sump and an oil cooler. At the same time Derek Chinn rebuilt the supercharger and Bill Morris rebuilt the ENV 75 pre-selector gearbox. The chassis was lightened, shortened and narrowed, the front axle lightened, and most of the suspension and steering components polished. The large Girling brakes are fitted with vented drums and Elektron back plates complete with air scoops. Hydraulic shock absorbers in addition to the friction Andre Hartford dampers are fitted at front and rear. He and his son then raced the Riley extensively in the UK and Europe (photographs on file). '8052' was then purchased and formed part of an Italian private collection between 2000 and 2010 before it was purchased by the current vendor.
    In 2009 the engine was rebuilt with new pistons fitted . These pistons give a compression ratio of 8.5:1 and estimated at around 130bhp. Power is transmitted via a racing clutch to the four-speed close-ratio gearbox, which has a short remote-control lever. We are advised that the car's maximum speed is around 100mph using the current setup. It has lapped the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in 1m 14s, the Silverstone Club Circuit in 1m 29s and Prescott in 46.25s.
    Since acquisition the Riley has been mechanically restored by marque experts Stanton Lodge Engineering. Works carried out include fitting a new big-valve cylinder head, ported, polished and complete with solid copper head gasket to original Gerard specification; and a front axle rebuild. The ENV 75 close-ratio pre-selector gearbox has been rebuilt at a cost of £3,500 by the UK's foremost ENV specialist, Graham Whitehouse, while the supercharger has been overhauled with new impellers, balanced shaft, etc by Derek Chinn (£3,700). Motor Wheel Services renewed the wire wheels using correct 19", 60-spoke outer-laced rims, which are shod with correct, 4.50x19 Blockley 3-stud tyres. The cost of the wheels/tyres was £1,500 and a further £3,000 was consumed by Stanton Lodge's thorough race preparation.

    'VE 4847' will have been MoT'd by time of sale and is offered in race-ready condition, needing nothing. A V5C has been applied for and will follow post sale. Offered with the aforementioned history, Gerard Racing correspondence, BMIHT authentication letter, sundry invoices and VSCC 'buff form', this very important historic Riley is welcome at all the most exclusive events.

Saleroom notices

  • For a number of years this car had been acknowledged as being the ex-Bob Gerard Bullet. However the recent discovery of another car in the USA, now in the UK, is felt to have a claim to the identity of Bullet. The car on offer today can trace its lineage back to Bob Gerard ownership in 1944 when both cars existed. Bob Gerard had many Riley spares including engines and chassis. Specific correspondence on file draws reference to a chassis that was modified into single seater configuration by Gerard but remained an unfinished project. It is felt the car of offer today was the unfinished single seater that the Bob Gerard works produced, subsequently seeing active use with Bob Upston in the 1960s. Chassis numbers for Riley Brooklands are stamped on the front near side dumb iron and this car bears the stamp 8052.
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