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Rupert Riley and his Riley WD Tourer, which competed in the
1932, 1933 and 1934
Monte Carlo Rally

Classique WD coming together during the rebuild

Story and pictures courtesy Gordon McAllan
Scottish Riley Enthusiast

Now read the route plan
after Paisley

Graeme Gallaoway's Anglia
Monte Carlo Classique Riley
Gordon McAllan, who scribes the Scottish Riley Ethusiasts newsletter will be co-driver/navigator of a 1931 Riley WD Tourer, driven by John Lomas on the Monte Carlo Classique on 27th January.

Blue Diamond Riley Services, based near Taunton, well known for their expertise in all things Riley have carried out a major and sustained programme of work to ensure that the chosen steed will be ready to take part and able to cope with whatever challenges the Winter weather and the traditional roads used may pose

As you can imagine, having been asked by John Lomas to take part as navigator and co-driver from John O’ Groats to Monte Carlo, I was very keen to see our “wheels” for the event and visited Blue Diamond’s spacious rural premises near Taunton.

I was chafing to set eyes upon the car which will carry John Lomas and me from John O’ Groats, on Wednesday 27th of January, to Monte Carlo, arriving there in time for dinner on Saturday 30th, having covered some 1,400 demanding miles, in goodness-knows what weather! Of course, when inviting me to share the cockpit and do my best to navigate us, John had told me a great deal about our Monte Carlo Rallye Classique Riley WD Tourer, and the history of this model’s participation in the original event, but I was keen to see the wee car for myself.

This particular “utility model” looks very good indeed! Of course, it’s not the low-slung, stylish sports car which contributed so much to the Riley Motor Company’s international profile and appeal in the Thirties. Rather, it might be mistaken, at first glance, for a late-Twenties Mark lV, with its high radiator and bonnet line, and simple, plain, high-sided coachwork.

The hood, now with a fixed, diamond-shaped window, differs from the original roll-up rear window version. But it’s a very handsome car indeed, in tidy condition outside and in, its restoration some years ago clearly a quality job.

When we saw the Tourer, its rear lighting was being brought up to a proper design and standard, complementing the front lighting enhancements, which (for the Monte event) include two modern driving lamps, wired through Main Beam. The whole braking system has been rebuilt, with alpine passes in mind. The Silent Third gearbox has been refitted, in anticipation of the engine’s return to the chassis, but thought has been given to the more than simple overhaul of the cogs, to include a higher than standard Second gear (the original ratio is very low indeed), to reduce the gap between Second and Third. This revised gearing has been complemented by the rebuild of the differential, which now has a revised final drive ratio, to encourage relaxed cruising (although we’ll be very careful to ensure that we restrain the Wonder Engine whose eagerness to rev and rev can be its undoing!).

And what of the engine? It is nearing completion of a full rebuild, the central feature of which is the fitting of a new crankshaft, in deference to the demands which will be placed upon the power unit. After the unit is built up and re-introduced to chassis and gearbox, the Riley WD will undertake a careful programme of Running-In, with strategic checking at every stage.

The going bits are crucial, of course, but important work has also attended the WD’s capacity, literally, to accommodate us and our Rallye resources: the rear seats have been removed and a sturdy platform fitted, to carry a second spare wheel, twin fire
extinguishers, jacks, axle stands, toolkit and, of course, our own “stuff”, for comfort and warmth during what may be at times gruelling demands of terrain and weather. John has already provided key aspects of my navigator’s “office” and as you
would expect,

I am progressing with our route and driving plans, based upon the outline information provided by Douglas Anderson, who is our link to the Automobile Club of Monaco
and is the UK co-ordinator of the Rallyes Historique and Classique. John is in charge of ferry bookings and overnight accommodation for ourselves and for our Support Team, led by Duncan Whyte.

The Rallye over, we aim to trailer the WD home, commencing on the 1st of February, this time via Autoroute!

Updated  21 January 2016