Why a lucky driver gets to drive a classic Riley Elf for a year

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A lucky driver has been given the opportunity to drive around in a Riley Elf for a year as part of a project which encourages younger people to take an interest in classic cars.

Joe Dawson, 30, will borrow the car for a year and in return will attend a number of shows and events, as well as writing about the experience.

The car was made available via the Riley Cars Heritage Trust, incorporating the Riley Archive, (also known as the Riley Cars Archive Heritage Trust) and a formal handover of the vehicle took place in Coventry.

The loan has taken place as part of the Classic Car Loan Project, an initiative which aims to involve more young people in the classic car world.

The handover took place at the Canal Basin in Coventry, where the Riley Archive is currently based.

It was previously stored at the home of Sue and Nick Weaver in nearby St Nicholas Street, an apt location as it is the former home of the founder of Riley Cars – William Riley Junior.

The Riley Cars Heritage Trust, incorporating the Riley Archive, hands over a Riley Elf to a new driver as part of the Classic Car Loan Scheme. Pictured is the recipient Joe Dawson (right), 30, with Andrew Gray, 65, of the Riley Cars Archive Heritage Trust
The Riley Cars Heritage Trust, incorporating the Riley Archive, hands over a Riley Elf to a new driver as part of the Classic Car Loan Scheme. Pictured is the recipient Joe Dawson (right), 30, with Andrew Gray, 65, of the Riley Cars Archive Heritage Trust

Several members of the trust were present for the handover, including Victor Riley, who is William Riley Junior’s grandson.

The Elf became available via its former owner in Devon and was acquired by the Riley Cars Archive Heritage Trust.

It had not been used for many years and they were keen to see it take to the road again.

Andrew Brain from the trust got it back to the Midlands and Riley enthusiast and expert Malcolm Pritchard worked to get it in roadworthy condition.

Andrew said: “As part of the scheme we lend the car out to a young driver – aged between 25 and 35.

“They have the car for 12 months.

“We give it to them free of charge, they put fuel in and insure it.

“Essentially the whole idea of the Classic Car Loan Project, which was started by someone called Bob Wilkinson, is to get a younger person to drive an older car, go to shows and report back.

“Joe will give us a running commentary.”

The Riley Cars Heritage Trust, incorporating the Riley Archive, hands over a Riley Elf to a new driver as part of the Classic Car Loan Scheme. Pictured (from left) Victor Riley, 85, Sue Weaver, 56, Nick Weaver, 56, the recipient of the car Joe Dawson, 30, with his son Edward, 3, and Andrew Gray, 65, of the Riley Cars Archive Heritage Trust
The Riley Cars Heritage Trust, incorporating the Riley Archive, hands over a Riley Elf to a new driver as part of the Classic Car Loan Scheme. Pictured (from left) Victor Riley, 85, Sue Weaver, 56, Nick Weaver, 56, the recipient of the car Joe Dawson, 30, with his son Edward, 3, and Andrew Gray, 65, of the Riley Cars Archive Heritage Trust

Andrew said the trust is hopeful the Elf might be exhibited at the annual International Classic Car Show, which is set to return to the NEC in Solihull in November.

The Riley Elf was one of the last cars to feature the Riley badge.

It was produced from the early 1960s and was based on the original Mini.

Sometimes described as “a posh Mini” it has a boot, a more distinctive grille, a lot more chrome and a wooden dash.

The Riley Cars Heritage Trust, incorporating the Riley Archive, hands over a Riley Elf to a new driver as part of the Classic Car Loan Scheme. Pictured is the recipient Joe Dawson, 30, in the car
The Riley Cars Heritage Trust, incorporating the Riley Archive, hands over a Riley Elf to a new driver as part of the Classic Car Loan Scheme. Pictured is the recipient Joe Dawson, 30, in the car

Riley is one of the best known of Coventry’s car makers and though it is now long gone it had a lengthy association with the city.

Like many of the great Coventry car makers its automotive origins were in bicycle making.

But Riley’s Coventry roots go back even further than that, being born out of a firm that started out during the weaving boom.

The business started out as the Bonnick Cycle Company of Coventry in 1890 cashing in on the new craze of cycling sweeping Britain at the time.

Seeing its business potential William Riley Jr, who was involved in the weaving industry, bought the firm and in 1896 incorporated a company to own it named The Riley Cycle Company Limited.

Based in King Street, Coventry, it branched out into automobiles courtesy of Riley’s middle son, Percy.

He built his first car at 16 in 1898, secretly, because his father did not approve.

The first real Riley car was the Vee-Twin Tourer prototype in 1905.

The last Riley car was produced in 1969.

Riley is a far from forgotten marque though and it has a huge global following.

It is kept alive through the Riley Motor Club, the original factory club founded in 1925.

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About Craig Ballantyne 24654 Articles
I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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