Riley was an English car manufacturer who specialized in the manufacture of sports cars and existed until 1939 as an independent company. As a brand, the product name existed until 1969.
In the beginning, as with some other car manufacturers also, the building of bicycles. Already William Riley had made his fortune in Coventry with two wheels. His son Percy Riley constructed in 1897 from bike parts and a De Dion -Bouton single-cylinder a so-called three-wheeled Voiturette. He did this not just for the pleasure of innovation. At the time, came into England, the prohibition of child labor in force. Had before his father can make a great business with cheap labor, so his son had to look for a more profitable branch of production.
1900 was followed by motorized four-wheeled vehicles. From 1903 began at Riley with a 517 cc V2 - cylinder optionally water or had air cooling, the construction of their own drive units. Four years later, made the designers a step further and offered the first four-wheeled Riley with 1034 cc and 9 hp, the first car with mechanical inlet valve control. Entirely new were the wheels with central locking. After patenting this design based many well-known car manufacturers, including Fiat, Renault or Mercedes, for a certain time their wheels from Riley.
Percy Riley, the technical head of the company, also designed to continue pioneering detailed solutions and founded with his brother Stanley in 1919 a new factory in Coventry for the production of the car, which should guarantee them the breakthrough for two decades: The Riley 10.8 " Redwing " drawing from 1498 cc high for that time output of 35 hp. He had light alloy pistons, a modern electrical equipment and only six lubrication points. In particular, the two-seater sports version of " Redwing " was successful in the interwar years.
The most well-known on the continent cars the company was but since 1926 produced 1.1 -liter Riley 9 "Monaco", which was Originally designed as a small family car, thanks to the tuning of Reid Railton and the driving skills of the racer Parry Thomas for proven and popular sports car came. Beginning of the 1930s, it was above all things, the little red Riley Renner, the imports successes in their respective classes for all possible sports car races and rallies.
As early as 1928 Riley brought a six-cylinder and seven years later, the eight-cylinder " Adelphi " model out, but the main emphasis remained small four- seater and Roadster. However, they were produced in a variety of types uneconomic, the depleted capital reserves. Even before the Second World War took William R. Morris, 1939, the works in order to integrate them into its own group.
After the war, among others, future Formula 1 World Champion Mike Hawthorn gained his first motor sport successes with Riley. However, for an economic existence of the brand 's success came too late. The great "Pathfinder" sedan also did not correspond to the English public taste, so that the BMC Group and British Leyland gave up the brand in 1969.