Riley Big Four Zagato

1936 Riley Special which has been subjected to a 10-year restoration. The last 3 years have been used to thoroughly shake down the car post-build and these have been relatively trouble-free. Almost all have been undertaken around the Lake District and Scotland and for those who know these roads, they're not the easiest terrain and an ideal proving ground for any car!

Work on the car started in earnest during 2009 following the purchase of a Riley Kestrel 12/4 six light from a driveway in Winchester. This all happened following a chance conversation at September Beaulieu the previous year. The car was as described as complete, but in need of a serious restoration. The interior trim along with timber frame had been removed some time previously. Upon inspection, it was evident that the car was beyond any thought of an economic restoration.

Upon closer inspection, the original12/4 engine was also very worn and in need of significant spend! A VSCC Newsletter during the latter part of 2009 sparked enthusiasm as a highly desirable and rare Big Four engine was available for sale, so negotiations were soon concluded. This engine had completed not more than 1000 miles of mixed-use following a comprehensive rebuild by Riley specialist David Ellison. The plan of the engine’s then owner was to have a supercharger bolted on the front like a "Blower Bentley". To that end, David has developed a robust bottom end with lower compression than normal with the supercharger blowing at around 8psi, with very good performance achieved! Having said that, in the current un-supercharged form, the engine is remarkably tractable and performs exceedingly well, with enough grunt to bother other road users. Along with good torque, there is little need to be stirring the four-speed synchro gearbox with endless gear changes. I'm sure a huge amount of performance is available with a rise in compression and further development if the new owner wanted to. 

When it came to the coachwork, the desire was to make the car look and feel like that of a 1930's Grand Sports Tourer, with the inspiration for the final coachwork design coming from the Italian house of Zagato as featured on the Alfa 6C. In fact, the proportions between the two cars are quite similar. The finished coachwork by Roy Mapple of Windermere features a good size luggage area, rear mounted the spare wheel, as well as a detachable hood frame for the long summer months. The long flowing front wings are a joy to look at and a real credit to Roy's skills. The car has been finished in deep Rosso Toscano with soft dark tan pleated leather upholstery.  

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