<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)

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Lot 182
1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports

US$ 650,000 - 750,000
£ 520,000 - 600,000
Amended
1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports
Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)
Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)

1,726cc OHV Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
3 SU Carburetors
Approx. 70bhp at 4,800rpm (see text)
4-Speed Pre-select Transmission
Semi-Elliptic Leaf Spring Suspension
4-Wheel Drum Brakes

*The ultimate Riley model

*Fascinating provenance and ownership by motoring luminaries
*Sensitively restored between three USA ownerships
*Veteran of Colorado Grand and other road tours


THE RILEY MPH

Riley was a company that had the rightful claim to being 'As Old As The Industry, As Modern As The Hour', its origins could be traced to 1896 and for a little more than 40 years, before they were acquired by the Nuffield Organization, they produced automobiles that were always innovative, unquestionably well thought out and invariably sporting.

As the company entered the 1930s, it didn't matter which model of Riley one bought, each had its own identity, with an imaginative product name, sedans were not just sedans, they were a Merlin or Falcon, or conjured an exciting location such as Biarritz or Monaco, and for those that wished to combine aerodynamics and sportsmanship, there was the rakish Kestrel with its swept back tail. While open touring cars had names like Alpine or Gamecock. Perhaps it was symptomatic of the era, but somehow the level of design in even the closed cars was extremely novel and wherever possible the diamond of the Riley emblem was echoed in each car's trim.

The pinnacle of Riley production was undoubtedly the MPH. It was the definitive evolution of all the principles, engineering genus and styling cues of this famed British marque, and one that is placed in a near mythical status alongside other great icons of its era. Indeed, there are some that would argue that the MPH outshines its contemporaries from Italy and France in terms of outright beauty! To turn the dial a little more is the fact that less than 2 dozen were ever built by the works making the chance to own one very scarce.

THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

All MPH cars are charted in a remarkable reference work by Robin Cameron, of which considerable time is devoted to the car we offer here. As with some others of its era, the MPH appears to be something of an anomaly in the production, in that from its earliest days it is one of two cars to have carried its chassis number, albeit each with a different pre-fix and different coachwork. Mr. Cameron pontificates extensively as to the reasons why this is the case, while all the time confirming and acknowledging that both cars have full histories and legitimate claims to their hallowed status as MPHs.

In fact, assisted by its distinctive British Registration 'OW 7925', its history is recorded and almost certainly carries a pedigree associated with one of the most famous of all those who raced the 'blue diamond' brand, Hector Dobbs. Dobbs was an exceptional privateer who became something of a national hero in the mid-1930s in Great Britain. Most notably, in an era when the British motor industry did not produce a true single-seater racing car, he was one of a number of privateers who converted two-seat chassis to single-seat configuration using offset bodywork, and was probably the most famous exponent of them. His two Riley specials of 1935 were by far the most successful of this genre, although with the arrival of the first ERA in 1934 changed the racing landscape and the offset style of body was soon to be a thing of the past.

The prefix of its 'OW 7925' license confirms it to have been originally road registered in the jurisdiction of Southampton County Council, which Dobb's Hedge End Motors of Botley would certainly have come under for this purpose. Visually, 'OW 7925' was first seen in an advertisement in Motor Sport in June 1954, where it is pictured and captioned 'Riley MPH One of these rare, fast 2-seaters, with a lovely body finished in red, 6-cylinder, 3-carburetor engine, forerunner of the successful E.R.A.s. Full weather equipment including zipped tonneau'.

In the coming years it passed to one Frederick Clarke, a trader specializing in the marque, whose son Michael has confirmed to the current owner that by then the car was in a somewhat tired order, and had received a replacement engine following frost damage to the 6-cylinder engine. Nevertheless, it was very much in the form that it is still to this day, this being all part of its detailed and interesting file. By then, three key discriminating factors were already apparent, the MPH front-end torsion bar set up had been removed, the steering box mounting bracket was heavily lightened/drilled and the rear brakes were likewise altered to a Bowden cable set up. All three of these characteristics were Dobbs hallmarks. Curiously, the car is also always known to have had 3 carburetors, rather than the standard twin set up, which has led to the addition of a purposeful hood 'bulge' to accommodate this performance upgrade.

The most plausible reason summarized by Cameron and other marque experts is that 44T 2255 had been used by Dobbs as the basis for one of his famed Single Seaters during the 1935 season, one of which was known to have been based on an MPH and then had its body returned to it prior to sale. Or indeed it was placed on another of the distinctive MPH frames, for the original chassis plate that its body still carries to this day is the sole marker of its identity. Even in its early post war transactions, suggestion was made that the car had had a glittering racing career, perhaps even participation at Le Mans but despite extensive research by various owners this has amounted to nothing more than conjecture, as if often said of cars 'if only they could speak'...

Clarke's recollection was that the Riley was sold to a Naval Officer based in Southampton, who, perhaps optimistically, intended to restore it while onboard an aircraft carrier! It seems unlikely that this actually happened for it next surfaced with a Peter Still, who had advertised looking for one of these cars and received a response from a lady who seemed rather keen to dispose of the car while her husband was at sea! At this point the Riley was refurbished for the first time by Still and a period correct Riley six-cylinder power plant fitted.

Its history from this point is well charted through numerous collectors, many who have been luminaries of the hobby, and all would have appreciated the MPH's collectible status and racing potential (the pre-selector gearbox being a direct forerunner to ERA), including Chris Mann, Werner Oswald, Eckhart Berg and Anthony Bamford. The Riley migrated to the USA in the late 1990s and continued in that vein with ownership by noted collector Bill Roberts of Washington State.

Mr. Roberts was responsible for giving the car something of a 'birthday' with new upholstery matched to the body color, rewiring and strengthening of its 60-year-old frame. Enamored by its beauty but slightly challenged in its usability because of the size of the cockpit, he cleverly had the cross bar behind the driver and passenger pushed back, to allow room to set back their seats. This is undoubtedly a success and interestingly would not have been possible in terms of space but for the modified 'Dobbs' brake set up. Bill Roberts retained the car using it on various tours, including a few Colorado Grands, before it passed to David Cohen in Vancouver, BC.

Since 2008, the Riley has been domiciled on this Peninsula in a private collection of 'driver's cars', where it has been exercised on occasion and maintained as necessary. Through its near 85-year career it has gained a charming natural patina, the like of which can not be replicated. Its rich burgundy paintwork and matched trim remain cleanly presented and its history is supported by a file with various copies of period images and correspondence.

The hen's teeth of Rileys, and the definitive article of their production, this with its added benefit of provenance and assumed link to Hector Dobbs' racing career, will provide its next owner with a beautiful and important sporting pre-war British car that is eligible for numerous events and a joy to experience.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note, this vehicle is titled under the model year 1934.
Contacts
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
<b>1935 Riley MPH Two-Seater Sports</b><br />Chassis no. 44T 2255 (see text)<br />Engine no. 6F-2577 (see text)
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