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Riley History

1937 Riley 12/4 Sprite

Chassis number : S27S 6031

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Sold for $491,750 at 2022 Bonhams : Amelia Island Concours.
The Riley Motor Company began business in the mid-1890s producing bicycles. The company evolved and began producing engines and then complete motor cars in 1912. Riley grew rapidly and produced some of the most successful works and privateer racing cars of the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Powered by a 1.5 liter 4-cylinder 61 hp engine this 1937 Riley was raced by Bill Ennis and Roger Peacock of the Riley factory team. The car's first event was Riley's sole factory entry in the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally. That was followed by the 1937 Lands End Trial, the 1938 MCC Edinburgh Trial, the 1938 Donnington race, 1939 Exeter Trial and the 1939 Edinburgh Trial.

The car retains its original Coventry factory registration CDU G3 and remains Riley's most frequently and successfully campaigned car. It has the distinction of never finishing lower than 3rd in all of its 14 period events from 1937 through 1939 including both races and trial contests.

Sold for $491,750 at 2022 Bonhams : Amelia Island Concours.
This British sportscar had an illustrious and well-documented history, beginning with its delivery to William L. Innes at the start of 1937. It was registered for the road on January 7, 1937, with the local Coventry 'Works' license plate of 'CDU 63.' Similar to the MPH vehicle that preceded it, the Riley wore a non-cowled chrome radiator and a standard gearbox (rather than the preselector).

The Riley was delivered just before the Monte Carlo Rally and it is believed that Mr. Innes had backing from the Works. He was the 23rd to arrive of 81 finishers, earning 3rd in the under 1,500cc class. After this event, the car was either sold or campaigned by Roger F. Peacock. Among the car's racing adventures were:

1937
MCC Lands End Trials – March 26 and 27 – Bronze Award

1938
MCC Lands End Trials – April 15 and 16 – Silver Award
MCC Edinburgh Trials – June 3 and 4 – Bronze Award
MCC Exeter Trials – January 6 and 7 – Silver Award
JCC Donington Park Race - Entrant

1939
MCC Lands End Trials – April 7 and 8 – Silver Award
MCC Edinburgh Trials – May 26 and 27 – Premier Award
Riley Motor Club 24 Hours Trial – June – no results known

Bill Innes also used the car in the Riley Motor Club's 'Riley Twenty-Four' an overnight trial in Scarborough in June 1937, gaining a First Class Award.

The car was in the care of Edward Barris of Guildford by February 27th of 1947, who retained it until 1960, when ownership passed to Stanley A. Burville in Wembley, Middlesex. Mr. Burville quickly sold the car a month later to Robert 'Bob' Baxter of Wallesley in Cheshire in May 1960. Mr. Baxter had plans of turning the Sprite into a TT Sprite Replica, but it remained a dormant project. In 1999 it was acquired by an Alan Voigts who treated the vehicle to a restoration, with the bodywork being supplied to C J Jarvis & Son, Vintage Coachbuilders, who reframed it, retaining the original skins and incorporating its 'bumblebee' tail panel.

The restoration eventually stalled until it was acquired by Nick Benwell. Loosely reassembled but not restored, the car changed hands again, eventually being returned to the road. Further improvements have been applied during the past few years. It is currently finished in a deep navy blue paintwork scheme, with chrome trim, and an aluminum spine down its tail.

This Riley participated in the 2020 and 2021 Mille Miglia retrospective and was shown at the 2020 Amelia Island Concours. It recently won its class at the Newport Audrain Concours d'Elegance in 2021.

This Riley Sprite is powered by a 1,496cc four-cylinder inline engine with twin carburetors and four-wheel drum brakes with hydraulic assistance.


By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2022

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2022 Bonhams : Amelia Island Concours

Pre-Auction Estimates :
USD $475,000-USD $625,000 
Sale Price :
USD $491,750

Recent Sales of the Riley 12/4 Sprite

(Data based on Model Year 1937 sales)
1937 Riley Sprite Two Seater Sports
Chassis#: S27S 6031
Sold for USD$491,750
  2022 Bonhams : Amelia Island Concours
1937 Riley 12/4 Sprite image  1937 Riley 12/4 Sprite image  
1937 Riley 1½-Litre Kestrel Sprite Special Sports Saloon
Chassis#: SS27K6131
Sold for USD$13,050
  2009 Bonhams - Beaulieu Autojumble, National Motor Museum
 

Riley 12/4 Sprites That Failed To Sell At Auction

1937 Riley 12/4 Sprite's that have appeared at auction but did not sell.
VehicleChassisEventHigh BidEst. LowEst. High
1937 Riley 1½-Litre 12/4 Kestrel/Sprite Special SportsS527K58552012 Bonhams The Beaulieu Sale Collectors' Motor Cars $30,000$50,000

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