1936 Riley Sprite
Year of manufacture1936
Number of seats2
1936 Riley Sprite Sports Re-creation
Registration no. CVX 849
Chassis no. 46A2596
'The best of the series was the Sprite, which... had a distinctly lively performance up to its maximum of nearly 90mph...' John Stamford, 'The Sports Car', Batsford 1957.
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 marque's pre-war offerings were among the world's finest small-capacity sporting cars.
Percy Riley's proven twin-camshaft layout was retained for the new Hugh Rose-designed 1½-litre four introduced in September 1934. The Falcon saloon made its debut on this new 12hp chassis, which was also available with the familiar Kestrel saloon and Lynx tourer coachwork. The following year the range was augmented by the Sprite two-seater sports and three more saloons: the Adelphi and six-light Kestrel on the 112.5" long-wheelbase chassis and the shorter-wheelbase (106") all-steel Merlin. In Standard trim the 1.5-litre 12/4 engine produced 45/46bhp with single Zenith carburettor. The Special Series came with twin SUs and 52bhp while at the top of the range was the 59/61bhp Sprite specification engine that added £48 to the car's purchase price.
In its 'TT' guise the new Sprite more than upheld Riley's sporting traditions, winning the Ulster Tourist Trophy in both 1935 and 1936 with the legendary Freddie Dixon at the wheel, while there were numerous privateer successes at Brooklands and elsewhere. Dixon's winning car formed the basis for the production Sprite two-seater introduced at the 1935 Motor Show. Clearly related to that of the existing Imp and MPH sports cars, the Sprite's handsome streamlined bodywork was distinguished by a 'fencer's mask' front grille. The chassis was MPH based and under-slung at the rear, while there was a choice of either manual or Wilson pre-selector transmissions. The Sprite was priced at £425 when launched and continued in production until 1938.
This wonderful re-creation of one of the rarest and most sought after of 1930s British sports cars is offered from the estate of a highly respected Riley collector, owner of an MPH, Sprite, etc. 'CVX 849' evokes the spirit of the successfully trialled cars of the mid-1930s and combines the best attributes of the Riley Sprite and MPH sports cars. Originally a short-chassis Adelphi 6/15 saloon registered in January 1936, it was acquired by the late owner in 1998 before being extensively restored over a period of two years, with most of the work being carried out by Allen Clear of West Chinnock, Somerset as evidenced by bills from him and various other specialists on file (inspection recommended). The rebuild included extensive works to the engine, including fitting a rev counter drive; overhauling the bronze-bodied carburettors; stripping, repairing and repainting the chassis; re-spraying the body and wings; re-trimming the interior in leather; making a new double duck hood; and much more besides.
Noteworthy features include a chassis shortened to Sprite dimensions (8' 1½" wheelbase), standard six-cylinder engine, pre-selector gearbox, 15" rod-operated racing brakes with magnesium drums, plus a 15-gallon fuel tank. Cycle wings add a degree of practicality and precision to the driving experience.
This car has competed in numerous events organised by the Vintage Sports Car Club, successfully completing the 2002 night-time Measham Rally, which was held in the Forest of Bowland. Its versatility as a fully-trimmed road car has been further demonstrated during VSCC tours of the East of England and Exmoor (see photograph). Accompanying paperwork consists of the aforementioned invoices, VSCC Eligibility Document, current MoT certificate and a V5 registration document.