Riley RM

Riley RM 1950s British classic sports car

By the time the RM Series was launched - in '45 - Riley's glory days seemed gone. Dating back to 1898, the firm had produced a steady stream of successful saloon/sports cars through the '20s and '30s. At race circuits, too, Riley met with much success. Sales at the time were uniformly upbeat. By the late '30s, though, financial fissures were showing. As a result, '38 saw Nuffield take the reins. It worked ... there would be a Riley renaissance. The post-war release of the 'RM' Series saw Riley right back on track.

The RMA and RMB were stylish saloons. Timber frames were wrapped in swooping steel bodywork. Topping it off was a fine-fabric removable roof. Both A and B were fitted with Riley's high-cam inline-four engines. The A was good for 75mph. The B upped that to 95mph. It had the longest stroke of any post-war British production car motor. Torque, then, came as standard. Both RMA and RMB had torsion-bar independent front suspension. So, good handling was also just part of the deal.

The most glamorous member of the RM club was the 'C'. Since it was a tilt at the American market, it came with column gear-change. Other notable RMC features were a fold-flat screen, and lowered bonnet line. The C was pure roadster ... an open 3-seater, with cutaway doors. In due course, the 'D' was a 4-seater drop-head. It reverted to a more traditional body than the C. Completing the Series were the RME and the RMF. Updates included hydraulic brakes, a hypoid back-axle, and larger rear windows. In '54, the E was given the final RM makeover. Its running boards were removed - and headlight pods streamlined. A set of rear wheel spats was grafted on. By this point, however, Riley were clutching at straws. Revered as it once had been, the brand-name was now in decline. There was to be one last throw of the Riley dice - in the form of the 'Pathfinder'. Its four-cylinder motor, though, was about all it had going for it. But, back in the day, Riley combined style and panache with sporting prowess. The RM Series had made that abundantly clear.

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