Showing posts with label Riley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Riley. Show all posts

Riley 2.5 Walter Köng Saloon

Riley 2.5 Walter Kong Saloon 1940s British classic concept car

Walter Köng's Riley 2.5 Saloon was unique. That made sense - since it was a solo effort. Well, apart from the engine. All other aspects of the car were overseen by Köng. No wonder, then, that it took him 5,000 man-hours - or two years - to complete.

Köng was Swiss. In '45 - with the war only just over - not a huge amount was happening in his native land. Switzerland's key industries - textiles and clock-making - were having a tough time of it. Köng was well-versed in all things automotive. He had worked at Sala, in Italy - as well as French firm Gallee. Oh, not forgetting Chrysler and Packard. With the fighting now finished, Köng was hankering to get back to work. With Swiss manufacturing still in the doldrums, he decided to take things into his own hands. Köng would build his own car!

Köng's inspiration came in the form of aircraft. Specifically, fighter planes. That was hardly surprising - since he had, after all, seen a few in recent times. The design brief was radical - especially for someone putting it into practice himself. Bodywork would be aluminium. The roof would be a two-panel, removable affair. In truth, Pontiac and Ford had already pioneered that set-up. What they had not pioneered were mahogany bumpers. They came courtesy of Köng - and his fertile imagination. Eventually, the time came when all the car needed was an engine. A Riley 2.5 was duly sourced and installed. Sadly - after so much effort - Köng's project was not to be a lucrative one. While his work appeared at '49's Geneva Motor Show - and generated a good deal of interest - no sales materialised. But, all was not lost. The annals of motoring history were another matter entirely. Walter Köng slotted into them with aplomb. To motoring's cognoscenti, he was now a kingpin of bespoke car-builders. The Riley 2.5 Saloon was proof positive of that!

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 and sports cars, throughout the '20s and most of the '30s. At race circuits, too, Rileys met with much success. Sales had been consistently impressive. By the late Thirties, though, financial fissures were forming. As a result, '38 saw Nuffield take over the Riley reins. It worked. Before long, there was a resurgence of interest from investors. And, the post-war launch of the RM series saw Riley right back on track.

The RMA and RMB models were stylish saloons. Timber frames were wrapped in swooping steel bodywork. Topping it all off was a woven removable roof. Both A and B were fitted with Riley's high-cam inline-four engine. The A was good for 75mph. The B took that out to 95mph. Riley's motor had the longest stroke of any post-war British production car. As you would expect, then, torque came by the barrelful. Again, both A and B featured torsion-bar independent front suspension. So, good handling was also a given.

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. Well, it was only polite! Other notable updates were a fold-flat screen and lower bonnet-line. The RMC was pure roadster - to wit, an open 3-seater, with cutaway doors. In due course, the RMD appeared - as a 4-seater drop-head. It reverted to a more traditional body than the C. Completing the series were the RME and RMF. Improvements included hydraulic brakes, a hypoid back-axle and larger rear windows. In '54, Riley revisited the E version. It received the honour of 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, though, Riley were clutching at straws, commercially. Revered as it had been, the brand-name was now in decline. There would be one final throw of the Riley dice - in the form of the Pathfinder. But - according to critics - its four-cylinder motor was about all it had going for it. Back in the day, however, Riley combined British panache with sporting prowess. The RM series had made that abundantly clear!