Riley was a British motorcar and bicycle manufacturer from 1890. Riley became part of the Nuffield Organisation in 1938 and was later merged into British Leyland. ln July 1969 British Leyland announced the immediate end of Riley production, although 1969 was a difficult year for the UK auto industry and cars from Riley’s inventory may have been first registered in 1970.
The TT Sprites were a series of cars (of which many replicas have since been created) built to take part in the TT races in the mid 1930s. They were mainly based around a Riley 12/4 engine and chassis, but with low, sporty bodywork more similar to the Brooklands than anything seen on the larger chassis before. This series of cars spawned the 12/4 Sprite and also the 6-cylinder MPH Models.
Inspired by their success at Le Mans in 1934 where Riley took 2nd and 3rd places, the company developed a team of six cars for the 1935 season which were to become known as the Tt Sprites. The chassis was developed from the 1934 chassis and a choice of four or six cylinder engines were fitted – either would fit. Le Mans was not such a success, although the Richardson Ivan der Becke car finished fourth, however it was in the Tourist Trophy race that year that the new Sprite excelled and earned its name, the Tt Sprite. A Tt Sprite driven by Freddie Dixon took victory ahead of stiff competition from Bentley and Bugatti – no mean achievement.
1936 saw Maclure drive spiritedly in the French Grand Prix at Montlhery coming 14th overall, while Freddie Dixon once again took his TT Sprite to victory in the Ards TT. Success followed at all the major circuits and 1937 saw 1st and 2nd places in the 12 hour Sports Car Race at Donington.
The original Riley TTs had a 4 cylinder OHV 1496cc engine with 61 bhp at 5500 rpm. The transmission was a 4 speed box.
The cars enjoyed a semi-elliptic suspension with a 2480mm wheelbase. They were approximately 3670mm long and 1450 wide. The car ran on 19″ wheels and had a performance figure of 0 to 50 mph of 13 seconds and a maximum speed of 88 mph.
Today, the Riley trademark is owned by BMW.
See some of these wonderful machines at Prescott here.
Click images to enlarge,