'First of the superlative type of 9hp car, firmly established, regularly improved and as yet scarcely challenged in its class, the Riley Nine has a very definite appeal to those who can appreciate performance, safety, comfort and an appearance out of the ruck.' - Autocar, 16th October 1931.
Introduced in 1926, Percy Riley's 9hp, 1,087cc twin-camshaft 'four' was an outstanding engine design by any standards, various versions powering Rileys until 1957. Clothed in stylish bodywork by Stanley Riley, the Coventry manufacturer's pre-war offerings were among the world's finest small-capacity sporting cars. Right from the start it was obvious that the 9hp Riley engine possessed enormous potential as a competition unit, and at Brooklands J G Parry-Thomas and Reid Railton were the first to demonstrate just how good it was. The success of their racer led to a production version, the Speed Model, which soon became known as the Brooklands Nine.
At the other end of the scale was the military four-seat tourer, known as the 'WD' (War Department) Nine, which featured a functional canvas hood with roll-up rear window and was painted in 'War Office Green'. Its specification also included larger wheels, a lower axle ratio and a stronger chassis with increased ground clearance, making it ideal for use in Britain's colonial territories.
This WD Nine is believed to be that which set a new record for the 953-mile journey from Cape Town to Johannesburg in May 1932, averaging 45mph to knock 1 hour 28 minutes off the previous best. This publicity stunt was dreamt up by D Stewart Fraser, Riley's Export Manager, who recruited local ex-racing motorcyclist and established long-distance record-breaker Gordon Collins as driver, who would be assisted by a factory mechanic named Brown. The pair had already broken the Durban-Johannesburg record in a Nine Sports before their successful assault on the Cape Town-Johannesburg mark using the WD.
From 1957-1967, the WD was owned by Riley Register co-founder Steve Smyth before being purchased in June 1976 by the vendor's late father, Maurice Griffiths. The car required restoration, which was undertaken by Ron Laws of Nottingham in 1993, including an interior re-trim by David Beswick of Derby. Used regularly until laid up 1995, 'HX 6507' was re-commissioned in 2014, including a re-spray, and still presents very well. This rare WD Riley is offered with an old-style logbook, V5C registration document and a photographic record of the 1993 restoration.