1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246

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Lot 96
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER

Sold for US$ 967,500 inc. premium

1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER
Chassis no. 44T 2246
Engine no. 14T 2246

1,633cc, OHV Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
2 SU Carburetors, 80bhp at 5,000rpm
4-Speed Pre-select Transmission
Semi-Elliptic Leaf Spring Suspension
4-Wheel Drum Brakes

*The ultimate Riley, one of only 16 examples and first chassis number built
*Believed to be the London Motor Show Stand MPH
*Concours restored to the highest possible standards
*Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance Best in Class Award Winner


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

This emerald jewel comes to the market having ostensibly vanished from the community for many years, some even considered 'No.5' to be a lost car. Rediscovered and in fresh ownership it has been treated to a truly meticulous restoration such that it is now presented in a condition which must make it the finest of these cars extant.

Its resurfacing is coincidentally linked to Bonhams successful sale of the Bob Lutz, Swiss MPH in 2016, for it was shortly after that sale that the wife of the deceased owner reached out to Mr. van Huystee to say that she understood that he was interested in these cars and to ask if he might he want another one? That simple conversation began a new journey of MPH ownership for Mr. van Huystee, culminating in the completion of the restoration of the car and winning its class at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance this May.

The individual histories of the 16 cars, together with their background have been vociferously researched by Robin Cameron in the UK, leading to his publication 'The Riley MPH – A history of its development & production 1932-1935'. From the chapter on 'No. 5' we know that despite its designation as the 5th MPH, its chassis number is actually the earliest in the sequence, and for this reason, and that of a comment by Riley Sales Manager Arnold Farrar to its former owner that it is believed by Cameron to have been the car that Riley debuted at the London Motor Show at Olympia in 1934.

Farrar's recollection was that the car was sold new off the show stand to an overseas buyer, and that Riley had taken the car back into stock relatively soon afterwards against a Kestrel, which is perhaps why its first UK road registration did not materialize until February 28, 1935. Then it was registered for the road on the Coventry plate 'ARW 485' by Flight Lieutenant J G Franks, whose address was given as c/o The Manager, Lloyds Bank, 6 Pall Mall in London. It is listed as having engine number T2246 as it does today, with a prefix of 15, and being finished in all blue paintwork. It appears that perhaps this sale was also cancelled, for another year passes and it was then registered for the road again as COE 354, a Birmingham number and to a Graham Donald of Kilbarchan, in Renfrewshire, Scotland, at this point and ex-Works, its engine prefix is recorded as 14, this anomaly suggests that Riley had exchanged a 15/6 engine for a 14/6 engine before its final sale. Cameron surmises, that these dates which account for roughly a year before it found its first proper owner might have been a period in which the car was used as a Demonstrator for the works. As Mr. Cameron writes:

'Some potential buyers of such a costly Riley could have been expected to come to the factory as VIPs to discuss their particular specification requirements in person. Having been the 'Show' car it was probably finished to a slightly higher standard than the ex-Works norm, and of course it would have those later refinements, not on the prototypes, which would have shown the prospective customer what the standard cars would be like. It might have been shuffled around between dealerships to drum up sales; the first Imp off the production line certainly was.'

Donald is understood to have owned the car until he was called up to serve in the Second World War in 1939, at which point his Riley, as for so many other cars, vanishes from sight for a dozen or so years. It resurfaced when advertised by Character Cars of Wimbledon, now clearly having migrated to the south of England. It is described as being in excellent mechanical condition and had now gained two hood straps and a third windshield wiper. Within eighteen months the MPH sold again through another South London car dealer becoming the property of a Robert 'Bob' Huehner, who was known to be a distinguished American chemical engineer and at that time was on secondment to Europe. Mr Huehner would bring the car back with him when he returned to these shores and set about restoring it. Newly re-fettled it would prove to be an extremely well-used car in the ensuing 4 decades of his ownership. Latterly, he commissioned a second restoration, which sadly he would not live to see the outcome of, and at this juncture, in 2003 the car passed to his son. Ultimately, this work would also not be finished by his son, leading to the chance call to Mr. van Huystee in 2017. When acquired, it had been within the Huehner family for a remarkable 63 years!

A fastidious collector, with a great eye for detail and love of perfection in the craft of restoration, Mr. van Huystee considered his next steps with the Riley, before entrusting a triumvirate of some of the finest restorers in the country centered in his home state of Pennsylvania. The car was literally dismantled entirely and rebuilt from the ground up.

The technical aspect was handled by respected engineers at Leydon Restorations, overseen by Eric Peterson, and in liaison with John Lomas of Blue Diamond in the UK. During this process the engine was completely rebuilt with new billet crankshaft, new rods and new pistons, and the Scintilla Magneto overhauled. When dyno-d it was found to develop 80hp at 5,000rpm, with 90ft lbs. of torque at 3,100rpm, figures that are some 50% more than when new! The complicated pre-selector system was rebuilt, using parts sourced from specialist Peter 'Banjo' Mayer in Germany. The brake system was totally overhauled, the drums re-machined and relined, new cables fitted. The radiator was remade in Europe. Completing the mechanical aspect, 5 new wheels were made and are now shod with Blockley tires. The aesthetics of the project were managed through David and 'Deeg' George at DL George Coachworks, themselves known for the quality of their paintwork, detail finishes and overall eye for the looks of a car.

The colors chosen were a personal choice of Mr. van Huystee, along a truly British theme they mirror that of his modern Bentley Continental, the paint being in Barnato Green and through his friendship with former Bentley Motors Franz-Josef Paefgen, Saddle color leather was sourced from Italy. The trim work was carried out by noted Pebble Beach winning upholsterer Gary Maucher, and wood repair work by Kevin Amey. All told, this exhaustive restoration was completed at a cost approaching $1m.

Very sadly, this would be one of the last projects that David George would see come to its fruition, with a 'firing up' party just prior to the Riley being shipped to Florida for display at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. This exquisite Riley was duly recognized for the quality of the rebuild, garnering a Best in Class award in the Sports and GT Cars Pre War category, even beating an outright Pebble Beach Best in Show for the award. Its fresh restoration is literally still being shaken down and should be considered as 'running in' for its first periods of use.

When parting with his first MPH, Mr. van Huystee had done so owing to his advancing years, but the possibility to exercise the knowledge learned in ownership and apply this to the restoration of this car proved an irresistible draw. The result is a true expression of our only being custodians of collectible cars, in that his wish was for it to be improved in his ownership and now that has been achieved, his desire is for the next keeper to enjoy the car.

The phrase 'the best in the world' is frequently used in descriptions of cars, but with a pool of a mere 16 cars, and given the degree to which this MPH has been restored, we feel that it is entirely appropriate here. As a definitive example of its marque, 'No. 5' would be at home in any Museum or Concours display, or equally could provide an eminently usable tour car.

Footnotes

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1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
1934 Riley MPH SPORTS TWO SEATER  <br />Chassis no. 44T 2246 <br />Engine no. 14T 2246
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