1932 Riley Brooklands rep - garage find (Available)
I was first invited to view this ‘garage find’ Riley Brooklands during the summer of 2016 to value the car for probate. As I approached the garage it was evident the car had been there for some time. The Fiat Coupe blocking the garage door had itself not moved for a good number of years either. At this point neither the relative nor I knew exactly what type of Riley was in there, or its condition! Once the door was forced open and the sun filled the poorly lit garage, I was delighted to be presented with a Riley Brooklands complete with ivy growing over it from the rear garden. At first I was thinking it to be one of the original 100 Thompson and Taylor chassis cars, but I soon recognised the workmanship of Allen Clear (Somerset). Allen owns an original car so really knows how they go together.
On speaking to Allen he confirmed that the basis for the car was a 1932 Monaco chassis which was altered to the correct Brooklands dimensions along with a very authentic traditional ash frame with aluminum skinned body, which is so authentic, it could have left the Coventry works back in 1929-30.
From a letter in the history file Allen confirms that the engine was one he had been using himself for competition. With a compression ratio around 9:1 and sports camshaft a letter on file also details the cam timing and lift along with other details of the vehicles mechanics front and rear axle being from a 1935 Merlin which preferably accounts for the addition of the Wilson preselect gearbox replacing the silent 3 which the car was supplied with. There is nothing wrong with this, however to compete in VSCC set 3 racing this will need to be changed back to Silent 3rd gearbox. Sale of the pre-select would cover some of this cost I’m sure. The pre-select is a heavier item and does sap some power.
Once completed Allen used the car for a short time personally before the car was offered for sale and purchased by Nigel Escolme, who was at that time residing in the Midland, now of West Sussex. Nigel owned the car for about 2 years and has recently sent me photos of the car, for the car’s file from during his ownership. A VSCC eligibility form was issued for standard classification in December 1991, and in 1993 Nigel placed her on the market with esteemed broker and race preparer Martin Stretton Racing. She soon found a new home with George Davidson, of Louisville KY USA. There is little in the file from this time but George is well known in Bugatti world owning no fewer that three Type 37,35 and 40. Some work was undertaken during his 15 years of ownership. Invoices show that the engine received new pistons along with cam followers and other related consumables in 2006. Soon after this he offered the car for sale in Hemmings the car was then purchased by Chip Wright of Jacksonville FL, Chip is a well-known face in America Historic racing circles, and him and George were already well acquainted.
In 2010 it was once again being offered for sale this time via Car and Classic website owned, the car was soon purchased by the late Keith Priestman of Liverpool. His cousin described the late Keith Priestman as an eccentric gentleman, who we understand never to have actually used the car on the open road, instead spending hours sitting with the car in his garage when he wasn’t tinkering with it. The vendor also reminisces about a conversation he had with his late cousin regarding big driving adventures, which were meticulously planned but sadly never executed and so the car remained caged in its garage in suburban Liverpool.
ESK924 is now offered for sale in ‘garage find’ condition, but I confirm it has been through the workshop and they have got the engine running. Other work will still be required before more strenuous activities commence, but ESK924 offers an interesting blank canvas opportunity for an enthusiastic, hands on pre-war owner-competitor, with it being attractively priced with much scope to add value over time, by making a competitive Riley Brooklands racer.
Now running and driving quite well.