Like several other British motorcar makers, the Riley Company traces its origin to fabrics. By 1890 the weaving business was fading, and William Riley added a bicycle plant to his operation. The Riley Co. began to build bicycles with their first car being built in 1898 after the ingenious Percy Riley finished high school. During the late 1920's and most of the 1930's, this small family run Coventry firm produced some of the best small sporting cars in the world, whether sedans, tourers or out-and-out sports cars. The excellence of the engines, and the stylish coachwork and delightful handling all set standards for performance and design throughout the industry at this time.
The Riley Company was later merged into British Leyland which is now a trademark of BMW.
Around 1905, the first Riley motor car was created. Within a few years, Rileys other endeavors, like motorcycle production, was halted to focus on the automobile.
After World War I, Riley's efforts in motorsports increased, with their vehicles appearing in races by privateers and works cars. Appearances in hill climbs and races such as LeMans were met with moderate success. Famous drivers such as Stirling Moss would pilot a Riley during racing competition.
This 1933 Riley Special was driven by Ian Landy of Great Falls, Va, to a victory at the 2007 Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. He completed the eight laps of the 2.33 mile course in 12:55:52. He set the fastest lap of the race with a time of 2:36.917.By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2007