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Riley RM

Riley RM Published: 25th Oct 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Riley RM
Riley RM
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Why should I buy one?

The Riley RM – said to be inspired by the Citroën Traction Avant – represents a charming period in post war motoring and still remain good value as sports classic that undercuts a Mk1 Jaguar but equals the Coventry cat on charm. A pleasure to drive and own, add a good specialist back up and the RM is one of the nicest prestige saloons of the 50s on the block.

What can I get?

While you don’t see one on every street corner the Riley RM club reckons around 2000 remain and with a fair chunk on the road. The RMA was launched in 1945 with a 1.5-litre twin cam engine, four-speed gearbox, torsion bar front suspension, hydro mechanical brakes and a reasonably healthy top speed of 75mph. Riley upped the ante with the 90bhp 2½-litre version of the twin overhead camshaft four creating the RMB which also sported a longer wheelbase and larger body giving useful extra room and, for its time, a very creditable 90mph. In 1948 power was increased to 100bhp allowing the car to hit the ton in favourable conditions

The RMC was a svelte 2½-litre, three-seater drophead, really designed for the American market and now very scarce as just 507 were produced. Another rarity is the full four-seater 2½-litre RMD of which only 502 were built.

The RME, available from 1952-1955, was an improved RMA boasting full hydraulic brakes and a hypoid rear axle with original 2½-litre becoming the RMF in 1953.

What are they like to drive?

Thanks to the fitment of crisp rack-and-pinion steering plus double wishbone independent front suspension, the RM driving experience is surprisingly modern and much more than the pre-war body styling suggests yet it’s 1950’s comfortable too. The separate-chassied Riley is a heavy design and the 2½-litre models are noticeably quicker than the 1½-litre editions although don’t be too hasty to dismiss the smaller engine as the 2½-litre RMs suffer from a heavier steering. According to those who owned both a Mk1 Jag and the MG Magnette ZA the Riley RM is as sporty as both and the 2½-litre models as good as a Jaguar Mk1.

What are they like to live with?

Given the RM’s rarity, spares and support (Blue Diamond is the best known marque specialist) is truly remarkable. Most parts that you’re likely to need are available from one source or another (generally The Riley RM Centre Ltd, the spares operation of the Riley RM Club), but some parts are also from overseas suppliers. The RM Club has a growing list of workshop manual supplements and its forum is huge. Against this can be the cost of repair and overhauling the twin cam engines (£8000) making full restorations a very expensive business. The RM Club advises not to strip a car willy-nilly as it can distort the frame all too easily – such sage advice is in the club’s Restoration Manual, a must at only £25. In terms of prices, apart from the dropheads, RM residuals remain very tempting with only the very best broaching the £20K barrier; half this can be pick up a pretty tidy runner.

We reckon

There’s something about this classy Riley. The RM is a sophisticated sports saloon that mixed pre-war glam with surprisingly modernish driving standards – and that’s their key appeal.


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