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#1 Graham Gauld

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 18:16

I was a judge at a racing linked concours at San Marino in Italy put on by Fabrizio Violati of Maranello Rosso and you could have knocked me over with a feather when one of the cars that turned up was a Lester-Riley that had been built with a Riley engine and had the kind of 1955 Fibreglass body that could only be described the way in which Henry Manney would have described it " Give an Englishman a piece of Fibreglass and see what kind of a mess he can make of it" The car is owned by Gianni Marrabini and whereas I was very familiar with the Lester-MG's in the 1950's I did not know about the Lester-Riley. I would publish a picture but after a year of trying I still cannot manage to put a picture on this site despite the help of many TNF'rs. But if anyone knows anything about this car I would like to send Gianni the information. He did say that Ken Booth was apparanetly an owner at one time.

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#2 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 21:16

Graham

On p.128 of Specialist British Sports/Racing Cars of the Fifties & Sixties by Anthony Pritchard (ISBN 0-85045-643-6) is a picture of the Lester-Riley coupe, reg no. 5 EME. As you say, it was a pretty ugly device.

#3 Graham Gauld

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Posted 25 September 2006 - 21:20

Thank you Paul .....that was a coupe....this one in Italy was a spyder. According to the owner there were two coupes built plus the spyder.

#4 crossle51f

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 10:04

Hello during the late 50s early 60s my father along with a David John Ashworth raced an ex monkey racing stables Lester MG reg no 5 eme. Their co was the" Lorraine car co" .The chassis was twin tube construction independant f/r suspension alfin drums ( inboard at the rear.) The engine was an mg xpag bored to1500cc c/w laystall lucas c/head when raced but used a riley 4/44 engine on the road.The body was a falcon mk 2 one piece fibre glass unit . A lot of work was carried out at Dunsfold at the Compasses after hours by Ray Sulley . It was towed in a converted caravan by a Delahaye 3.5 cabrio.

#5 David McKinney

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 11:17

I take it the body in you father's day was an open two-seater?
5EME was a coupé when raced by the Monkey Stable in 1955

#6 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 12:25

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Photo: © Specialist British Sports/Racing Cars of the 50s & 60s by Anthony Pritchard

#7 David McKinney

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 13:56

That's the one, Paul
I didn't post the picture as I didn't think I could afford the copyright fee

#8 crossle51f

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Posted 26 September 2006 - 15:17

yes it was an open 2 seat sports car "C" type jaguar in appearance

#9 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 09:26

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Photo: Graham Gauld

#10 Sharman

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 10:46

Graham
RGS Atalanta tail fins
John

#11 Ted Walker

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 13:58

Some lunatic has cut off the roof !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#12 Graham Gauld

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 15:37

Ted:

As mentioned earlier our Italian friend said that as far as he knew there were two coupes built and one spider, the spider having a Riley engine. He did think the name Ken Booth was involved with the car but he also mentioned a name he thought was something like Jacobsen. He appears to have bought it in the 1970's. It is the Riley engine that intrigues me because most Lesters were MG engined. Everything about it screams originality - note the exhaust pipe - the awful Fibreglass body etc.

#13 Sharman

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 15:51

Which Riley engine Graham?. The body is the right era for Dick Shattock and it has, as I said earlier, affinities with the RGS which looked like nothing on earth but went well.

#14 Graham Gauld

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 16:04

Sadly John, I was dashing about so much I never caught him with the engine cover open. He said it was a 1500 but I think it was written down on a piece of paper as an 1100. I will try and get his telephone number and give him a ring and see what else he can tell me.
I agree with you about the RGS Atalanta style. As you know the RGS is in Scotland with Barry Wood and my son Lance shared the car in a historic meeting at Dijon last year.

GG

#15 Stoatspeed

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 16:40

This looks like a curiously malformed Daimler SP250 to me! maybe one that was left in the oven too long?
Love the camber angles on the action shot ... you can almost hear the scream of the overloaded outer front tyre!

#16 Sharman

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 18:24

Graham
As well as building cars in kit, RGS also sold body shells is it possible..........?
John

#17 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 21:35

Gentlemen, Please. The RGS Atalanta bears almost no similarity to the Lester-Riley. This is a Rob Ryder photo.

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#18 Peter Morley

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Posted 27 September 2006 - 22:07

Originally posted by Graham Gauld
Ted:

As mentioned earlier our Italian friend said that as far as he knew there were two coupes built and one spider, the spider having a Riley engine. He did think the name Ken Booth was involved with the car but he also mentioned a name he thought was something like Jacobsen. He appears to have bought it in the 1970's. It is the Riley engine that intrigues me because most Lesters were MG engined. Everything about it screams originality - note the exhaust pipe - the awful Fibreglass body etc.


Given the car is in Italy it would not be surprising if Ken Booth was involved, Ken sold a lot of cars, especially to Italy during the 80s - I think he eventually swapped the rain in Preston for a lake in Italy?

Any idea where Ken is these days?

#19 Ted Walker

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 06:51

Would love to see a PERIOD photo with the roof missing. Not convinced if the Riley engine would have been fitted in the 50s or later.

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#20 Peter Morley

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 07:39

Originally posted by Ted Walker
Would love to see a PERIOD photo with the roof missing. Not convinced if the Riley engine would have been fitted in the 50s or later.


Would be interesting to know what type of Riley engine - is it a real (e.g. pre-war 9 or 12/4) type, or a badge engineered BMC engine.

#21 Sharman

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 07:56

Paul
Look on the 5os specials site under RGS much closer than you might think now, I have to say also that your photograph looks only vaguely like the Atalanta Jaguar of my youth
John

#22 Sharman

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 07:59

Peter
More likely to be an RMA derivative than pre war I would have thought. What did John Horridge run in the Jehu-Riley?
John

#23 Peter Morley

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 10:10

Originally posted by Sharman
Peter
More likely to be an RMA derivative than pre war I would have thought. What did John Horridge run in the Jehu-Riley?
John


John
Which Riley had the chain drive version of the 12/4? Was that an RMA or was the RMA a new engine?
Either would be pretty heavy, BMC versions presumably much lighter.
Will have to look up the Jehu-Riley.
Peter

#24 Sharman

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 10:51

Peter
:o Substantially the same engine but I am not sufficientently cognisant with Rileys to expand on the subject. There was a chap I knew (his father was a psychiatrist which may say something) with an RMA with 4 Amals on it. it also had a reworked cam with a lot of overlap. As the exhaust exited on the near side passing cyclists on the overun caused a certain degree of consternation.
John

#25 Richard Cass

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 15:17

The coupe Lester 5EME has the exhaust pipe outlet on the right (drivers) side, Riley engines, unless very very special are on the left. The colour picture of the open sportsracer looks like a Lister.

#26 Sharman

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 16:19

Originally posted by Ted Walker
Would love to see a PERIOD photo with the roof missing. Not convinced if the Riley engine would have been fitted in the 50s or later.


Ted
As I suggested to Paul earlier, look on the 50s specials website, there is a recent photo of an open RGS (not the Atalanta) plus line drawings of the body in open & coupe forms. I don't think that Harry Lester built his own bodies except for the open wheel format. So they had to come from somewhere, they would not have been made in house especially as by the time the mid 50s arrived there were so many proprietry bodies in reinforced plastic to choose from.
JF

#27 Graham Gauld

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 16:33

I can confirm that the exhaust pipe on the Lester-Riley comes out on the left hand side and also it has the correct Lester badge on the nose. It is certainly not a Lister.

#28 Graham Gauld

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 13:49

As mentioned above I telephoned Gian Luigi Marbini regarding his car despite my less than perfect command of Italian. Though he has very little information about the car he was able to confirm the engine was a 1953 Riley 1500 engine and that as far as he was aware Harry Lester built two Coupes and two spyders of which his was one.

#29 Sharman

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 15:30

Monkey Stable ?

#30 Graham Gauld

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 15:33

Yes : Scimmia Stabile He did mention Monkey Stable when we first talked about the car last Saturday.

#31 Ted Walker

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 20:13

Never seen a photo of a spyder version of this type. I remember several years ago selling some photos of the coupe to an owner who said that he thought the coupe was ugly so had the top removed( I think he was an American )

#32 Sharman

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 21:19

I understand that the 2 coupes and the 2 spyders were never delivered as they were a year late and Jim Mayer was killed in a Cooper. The question is where did they go and to whom. When completed they would, I assume, have had 1500 MG units which if I recall correctly were a bit on the fragile side. An RMA which I now realise were based on the 12/4 with presumably chain cam drive as Peter said would be a more durable option. Relative weights anybody? I have asked questions of a garage which is looking after another Lester MG from I guess the same series

#33 fivestar

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 03:27

For what it is worth, there is an article in the 8 April 1955 issue of AUTOCAR "Interesting Competition Cars" - M FOR MONKEY STABLE, which has a cut a way drawing of the Coupe, showing the fins. I can take a digital photo and post of any one is interested.
The article states that four cars will be built. 2 coupes (M15) with 1.5L MG engines and 2 spyders (M11) with 11oocc Coventry Climax engines.

#34 Sharman

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 08:51

Sack cloth and ashes, I have been talking through my backside, the 12/4 started as chain drive but very quickly became gear driven, I TOLD you I was not au fait with Rileys.

#35 Allan Lupton

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 09:19

Are you sure it's a pre-BMC Riley motor? The RM was quite heavy and not many were developed as racing engines, but the BMC B series as in the Riley 1.5 of 1958ish was the forerunner of the MGB and quite early on had the HRG-Derrington cross-flow alloy 'head available as a go-faster mod.

Also don't discount RGS as the body just because it is smaller than the RGS-Atalanta/Jaguar. There was an RGS-MG which we've seen racing a lot in recent years which has some similarity

#36 Peter Morley

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 15:05

Originally posted by Sharman
Sack cloth and ashes, I have been talking through my backside, the 12/4 started as chain drive but very quickly became gear driven, I TOLD you I was not au fait with Rileys.


I think it is the other way round - our mid 30's 12/4s were always gear driven and I remember being shown a late engine (either just pre or just post war) that was chain driven) - I don't know enough to know if the very first ones might have been chain drive, but the majority are gear drive.

12/4s have a huge tall cast iron block (with integral gearbox bellhousing) which is pretty heavy, far more substantial than a BMC type engine.

#37 humphries

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 15:11

According to my records T. Bleasdale entered a Lester-Riley in a number of races in 1957.

At Snetterton (31 March) he was a non-starter, but he appeared at Brands Hatch (9 June), and was entered in the Norbury Trophy, no less, at Crystal Palace the next day. Teasdale had another busy weekend, supposedly, as he was entered at Silverstone (27 July) and then the next day at Snetterton. He was at Silverstone (5 Oct) and at Oulton Park (12 Oct). He never featured in the results.

The engine capacity was stated as 1496 cc and on occasion he was entered by Ecurie Pendle.

This car may have been the ex-Ecurie Bullfrog car, but that would make it pre-1955. The two M15s and M11s were all coupes.

John

#38 Sharman

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 16:53

Originally posted by Peter Morley




12/4s have a huge tall cast iron block (with integral gearbox bellhousing) which is pretty heavy, far more substantial than a BMC type engine.


That is what I said Peter only the very early engines were chain drive ie on introduction in 1934

Humphries- Ecurie Bullfrog was John Horridge which is why I raised the Jehu Riley topic

Allan -The 1.5 B type engine was not produced before 1954 and was not used under the Riley badge engineering scheme until 1957 hence it would not be described as a Lester Riley in 55, even if it was retro fitted it would surely have remained true to the MG name. The more I look at this the more convinced I become that the body is RGS, as I said not the Atalanta-Jaguar but the smaller version.

#39 David McKinney

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 18:38

Originally posted by Sharman
The 1.5 B type engine was not produced before 1954 and was not used under the Riley badge engineering scheme until 1957 hence it would not be described as a Lester Riley in 55

It would still have been possible to retro-fit a pe-war 1500 Riley engine, either a four or six

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#40 humphries

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 19:55

The link between Ecurie Bullfrog and Beasdale's 1957 Lester-Riley is tenuous but...

In 1954 J.H.Greenwood raced a Lester-MG under the Ecurie Bullfrog banner along with others in various cars including Horridge in the Jehu-Riley.

In 1955 Greenwood again raced the Lester whilst Horridge acquired a Lister chassis and inserted a Riley engine, possibly from the Jehu. This Lister-Riley was raced not only in the UK but took part in the Bol d'Or 24 Hour race although it retired with big-end failure. Now Doug is the Lister specialist but I noticed in his "Powered by Jaguar" book that there were a number of chassis supposedly for Bristol engines about which Doug has no information. The chassis must have been one of those. The intriguing thing is that the Lister-Riley had a fibreglass body. In October it took part in Fibreglass Trophy at Brands Hatch, a race restricted to cars with that type of body. Therefore it is possible the team's Lester-MG was also clothed in a fibreglass body, maybe of the same type. Photographic evidence is required.

In 1956 John Horridge raced a Lister-Bristol, again with a fibreglass body, and again raced in the Brands Hatch fibreglass race. It is quite likely that this car was in fact the 1955 Lister-Riley. It is possible that the Riley engine from the Lister was then put into the Lester. There is no record of Greenwood racing a Lester-MG in 1956 nor any mention of a Lester-Riley racing in 1956.

So was the creation of the Lester-Riley by Ecurie Bullfrog or a totally separate exercise by Beasdale?

John

#41 Sharman

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 21:19

David
On the John Horridge thread I have asked which Riley engine was fitted to the Jehu, I should really ask Graham is the engine in the Italian Job a 4 or a 6, I know both Graham and I can get by in French but can we have an Italian speaker please. These two threads are now seeming to be drawn together with a Lester and a Lister both involved in Ecurie Bullfrog with the Lister powered by a Riley. Surely not coincidental
John

#42 Allan Lupton

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 08:33

Originally posted by Sharman


That is what I said Peter only the very early engines were chain drive ie on introduction in 1934

Allan -The 1.5 B type engine was not produced before 1954 and was not used under the Riley badge engineering scheme until 1957 hence it would not be described as a Lester Riley in 55, even if it was retro fitted it would surely have remained true to the MG name. The more I look at this the more convinced I become that the body is RGS, as I said not the Atalanta-Jaguar but the smaller version.


Anent pre-BMC 1½ litre Riley engines you were right both times: 12/4 was introduced with chain cam drive but was gear-drive for most of its production; the post-war RM was chain drive. Don't know about the just pre-war Nuffield-built jobs.

By the way, I like Peter Morley's idea of an integral bell-housing but how d'you get the flywheel/clutch in? :)

I've looked back up this thread and I can't see a date for the Lester apart from the initial rude comment about the 1955-type body. The RGS-MG I referred to was 1956, so this could be later, and as you say could have been re-engined. Of course if you saw the actual displacement quoted there would be a clue, as the Coventry/Nuffield Riley was the usual 1496 c.c. and the BMC B 1489

#43 Peter Morley

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 11:57

Originally posted by Sharman


That is what I said Peter only the very early engines were chain drive ie on introduction in 1934


Just checked one of Dad's Riley books.

The first 233 12/4 engines were chain drive but that was dropped for gear drive because of noisy timing chains - all other 12/4s were gear drive until the war (and the early engines are incredibly rare).

The postwar 12Hp was pretty much the same engine but had a duplex chain drive for the cams and was built in large numbers.

#44 Peter Morley

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 12:09

Originally posted by Allan Lupton


Anent pre-BMC 1½ litre Riley engines you were right both times: 12/4 was introduced with chain cam drive but was gear-drive for most of its production; the post-war RM was chain drive. Don't know about the just pre-war Nuffield-built jobs.

By the way, I like Peter Morley's idea of an integral bell-housing but how d'you get the flywheel/clutch in? :)


Oops see you already filled in the 12/4 details!
I'm pretty sure I've seen a just pre-war chain drive 12/4 engine - we did wonder if it would be have any racing advantage.

As for changing the clutch it would of course be the same if the bellhousing was integral with the gearbox, all that changes is which part (engine or gearbox) has the big lump of metal (flywheel/clutch housing) attached!

How do you describe the huge lump of cast-iron on the back of a 12/4 for connecting the gearbox if it isn't a bellhousing?
Backplate (as on a Climax for example) does not convey the mass of cast iron that Riley surronded their flywheel with!!

#45 Allan Lupton

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 14:02

Originally posted by Peter Morley


As for changing the clutch it would of course be the same if the bellhousing was integral with the gearbox, all that changes is which part (engine or gearbox) has the big lump of metal (flywheel/clutch housing) attached!

How do you describe the huge lump of cast-iron on the back of a 12/4 for connecting the gearbox if it isn't a bellhousing?
Backplate (as on a Climax for example) does not convey the mass of cast iron that Riley surronded their flywheel with!!


I see it all now!
When I see "bell-housing" I think of the bell-shaped housing, often part of the gearbox, that has its large end towards the engine.
I understand what you must refer to, and agree that "backplate" is not enough. My Lea-Francis engine (son of Riley 12/4 by the same designer) has a large aluminium alloy casting that I would call an adaptor as it is part of neither the engine nor the bell-housing.

#46 Peter Morley

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 14:58

Originally posted by Allan Lupton


I see it all now!
When I see "bell-housing" I think of the bell-shaped housing, often part of the gearbox, that has its large end towards the engine.
I understand what you must refer to, and agree that "backplate" is not enough. My Lea-Francis engine (son of Riley 12/4 by the same designer) has a large aluminium alloy casting that I would call an adaptor as it is part of neither the engine nor the bell-housing.


I was using bellhousing to refer more generally to the part that connects engine to gearbox while covering the clutch/flywheel and providing clutch actuation - bell shaped on a lot of cars but not necessarily so.

The piece in question on the 12/4 is very much part of the engine casting (and heavy). You certainly use an adaptor to connect two different components but this is part of the engine block, being integral it is not an adaptor.

Some MGs have a similar setup - the clutch/flywheel housing is shared between the engine & box, so my Elva's T-type box needs an adaptor ring to connect it to the Climax engine's flat backplate, since there is not enough space for the flywheel & clutch inside the gearbox bellhousing.

I assume that coming later the Lea-Francis engine is an improved version of the Riley, lobbing a huge lump of weight off the end of the block would be a good start!

#47 Allan Lupton

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 15:02

Originally posted by Peter Morley

I assume that coming later the Lea-Francis engine is an improved version of the Riley, lobbing a huge lump of weight off the end of the block would be a good start!


Still b***** heavy, I can assure you!

#48 Sharman

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 15:36

May I come back in here. We still do not know which engine was in the Jehu-Riley nor do we know which engine is in the Lester in Italy. There appear to be some doubts about the suitability (and weight) of the 12/4. I have related the story before but John Horridge is reputed to have put an ERA engine into a Morris Oxford Series MO. Now just for the sake of argument, suppose this was not a REAL ERA engine but a highly tweaked 6 cylinder Riley of the of the same vintage. I saw the car in the paddock at Oulton in the 50s and also saw it on the road but cannot vouch for the engine installation. What is unquestioned is the capacity of the 15/6 (?) to take tune. There is no concrete reason that a 1.5 litre Riley engine has to be a 12/4.

#49 Peter Morley

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Posted 03 October 2006 - 07:39

Originally posted by Sharman
May I come back in here. We still do not know which engine was in the Jehu-Riley nor do we know which engine is in the Lester in Italy. There appear to be some doubts about the suitability (and weight) of the 12/4. I have related the story before but John Horridge is reputed to have put an ERA engine into a Morris Oxford Series MO. Now just for the sake of argument, suppose this was not a REAL ERA engine but a highly tweaked 6 cylinder Riley of the of the same vintage. I saw the car in the paddock at Oulton in the 50s and also saw it on the road but cannot vouch for the engine installation. What is unquestioned is the capacity of the 15/6 (?) to take tune. There is no concrete reason that a 1.5 litre Riley engine has to be a 12/4.


Riley made 12/6, 14/6 & 15/6 6 cylinder engines (possibly others).
The first number is the fiscal horsepower - so they did make a 1500 cc 6 cylinder and 2 other larger engines.
ERAs were 1.5 & 2 litre so it could be a 6 cylinder engine - but that would be even heavier and bigger than a 4.
Freddie Dixon produced some very good un-supercharged racing 6 cylinder Riley engines, but you would have thought that 20 years on there would have been more suitable engines for a (relatively) lightweight car.

#50 Sharman

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Posted 03 October 2006 - 08:31

Peter
What were the small capacity alternatives in the early/ mid 50s in the UK. Everybody was struggling to find something suitable, which is why MG XP were used but when taken out to 1500 were fragile. I remember a very rapid little sports car built by somebody in Stockport (name escapes me) who used the engine out of his Q type MG (which was fairly recently auctioned I think) and called the car Cheetah. Ford didn't have anything, hence Elva heads, Standard Triumph nothing, Rootes well there was the Singer twin cam effort. Coventry-Climax were only just coming on stream. Every body was using pre-war based engines, Connaught, HWM you name it.
John