First introduced in 1926, Percy Riley's 9hp twin-cam four was an outstanding engine design by any standards, various developments powering Rileys until 1957. Looking to all intents and purposes like a twin-overhead-camshaft design, the Nine's cross-flow cylinder head featured hemispherical combustion chambers and valves inclined at an included angle of 90 degrees. The twin, gear-driven camshafts were mounted high in the block, operating the valves via short pushrods.
Riley's 9hp engine was one of the most advanced of its day so it can have caused little surprise when the Coventry manufacturer created its first six by, in effect, adding a pair of cylinders to the existing design. Hailed as 'The Wonder Car Plus Two', the first 14hp, 1.6-litre six-cylinder models duly appeared in 1929, followed by 12hp, 1.5-litre versions in 1933. Clothed in stylish coachwork by Stanley Riley, the marque's pre-war offerings were among the world's finest small-capacity sporting cars, the 'airline'-bodied Kestrel sports saloon - available on both the four- and six-cylinder chassis - being a prime example. In six-cylinder form the Kestrel was available in a choice of wheelbase lengths and engine sizes: 12hp, 14hp and 15hp.
This Kestrel 14hp 'Short Six' was purchased by the current owner circa 1971/72 from one Larry Philpott, who lived near Maldon in Essex. The Riley had been involved in a minor collision with a Land Rover in North Wales and the results are still visible: a bent front wing plus damage to door and running board. The engine (not original to the chassis and a 12/6 unit) was removed at time of purchase and comes with the car. Garage stored since acquisition, 'UG 3427' is a potentially most rewarding restoration project, being almost complete apart from a few minor items. The chassis is described as straight and solid, and the aluminium body panels are all present, as is the original interior. The transmission is complete and the brakes and steering are functional. Offered for restoration and sold strictly as viewed, the car comes with old-style continuation logbook, Swansea V5 document and a tax disc and MoT certificate, both of which expired in 1968.