The Riley works Alpine Trials team cars


The Riley works Alpine Trials team cars

Riley (Coventry) Ltd. were renowned in the 1930’s for producing the sporting cars of choice, their design flair was backed up by a proven track record of winning all types of events either as factory entrants or supporting for

In 1932 Riley (Coventry) Ltd. carried off the Manufacturers’ Team “Coupe des Alpes” in the IV’eme Coupe Internationale des Alpes (Alpine Trial)with three 9 hp Gamecock two-seaters. Two similar, works supported cars won “Coupe des Glaciers” for private entrants.

Encouraged by this success, in 1933 the Company entered three 12hp six cylinder versions of the Gamecock and supported two other private entrants— one was a fourth 12/6 Gamecock and the other, was another “9” Gamecock for Miss Champney and Miss Hobbs. Once again the works team won the Manufacturers’ “Coupe des Alpes” in the 1500cc class, the privately entered 12/6 Gamecock won the Coupes des Glaciers, and Champney and Hobbs won the Coupe des Dames in the “9”.

By the time the Alpine Trial came around in 1934, the Riley Competitions Department had recorded a particularly successful year. They had achieved successes in the Monte-Carlo, RAC and RSAC Rallies as well as class and
outright wins at Brooklands, in the the Isle of Man and at Le Mans where the works cars finished 2nd and 3rd overall.
Clearly the Company had to go for the Alpine Trial hat-trick. It had problem, however, the Regulations for the event stipulated that entries must be “standard production models” straight from the production line, but Gamecock production, in either “9” or “12” hp form had been discontinued at the end of 1932. Some Gamecocks were probably constructed in 1933 so that the 12hp cars used that year would have been eligible.

None of the models in the 1934 catalogue were really suitable for this arduous event so that some lateral or “duplicate” thinking prevailed and may have been long-planned. The company had retained at least three of the successful 1933 12/6 cars and for 1934, replaced their 12hp engines and manual gearboxes with 14hp six cylinder engines and “Preselecta” gearboxes, changed the axles for centre-lock rather than bolt-on wheels, ground the
chassis numbers off, stamped new ones and re-registerd the cars as : ADU 27, 28 and 29. A fourth car, a 14hp Lynx, registered ADU 30 was entered for Miss Champney and may have used the chassis of the fourth 1933 car.

It is not certain how this unique team of rather specialised cars passed the scrutiny of the eligibility scrutineers but, whilst they did, sadly, the successes of the previous two years were not repeated. ADU 28, driven by Arnold Farrar, blew a head gasket on the Splugen Pass and was penalised. Nevertheless, the team achieved a 2nd class award and so did Miss Champney. All three 14/6 Gamecocks were all sold to Hector Dobbs immediately after the
event but ADU 30 was retained by Miss Champney who subsequently married Captain Cecil Riley. Sadly there has been no trace of the car since the early 1960s. The late Barrie Gillies acquired ADU 28 in1961 and the car remains in
his family; Ian Stainburn owned and rebuilt ADU 29 in the early 1970s and now owns ADU 27.

Ian was able to re-unite the 3 Alpine ‘6’ cars at the new premises of Blue Diamond Riley Services at Bicester Heritage, which provided a fantastic period backdrop for the photographs but also allowed the cars to have a quick
run out on the airfield test track.

Very many thanks to Mark Gillies and the owner of ADU29 for enabling this event.