Belem, Lisbon, Portugal
Riley was a British motorcar and bicycle manufacturer from 1890. The company became part of the Nuffield Organisation in 1938 and was later merged into British Leyland: late in 1969 British Leyland announced their discontinuance of Riley production, although 1969 was a difficult year for the UK auto industry and so a number of cars from the company’s inventory are likely to have been first registered only in 1970.
Today, the Riley trademark is owned by BMW.
Riley Cycle Company
Riley began as the Bonnick Cycle Company of Coventry, England. During the pedal cycle craze that swept Britain at the end of the nineteenth century, in 1890, William Riley Jr. purchased the company and in 1896 renamed it the Riley Cycle Company. Later, cycle gear maker Sturmey Archer was added to the portfolio. Riley’s younger son, Percy, left school in the same year and soon began to dabble in automobiles. He built his first car at 16, in 1898, secretly, because his father did not approve. It featured the first mechanically operated inlet valve. By 1899, Percy Riley moved from producing motorcycles to his first prototype four-wheeled quadricycle. Little is known about Percy Riley’s very first "motor-car". It is, however, well attested that the engine featured mechanically operated cylinder valves at a time when other engines depended on the vacuum effect of the descending piston to suck the inlet valve(s) open. That was demonstrated some years later when Benz developed and patented a mechanically operated inlet valve process of their own but were unable to collect royalties on their system from British companies; the courts were persuaded that the system used by British auto-makers was based the one pioneered by Percy, which had comfortably anticipated equivalent developments in Germany. In 1900, Riley sold a single three-wheeled automobile. Meanwhile the elder of the Riley brothers, Victor Riley, although supportive of his brother’s embryonic motor-car enterprise, devoted his energies at this stage to the core bicycle business.
Company founder William Riley remained resolutely opposed to diverting the resources of his bicycle business into motor cars, and in 1902 three of his sons, Victor, Percy and younger brother Alan Riley pooled resources, borrowed a necessary balancing amount from their mother and in 1903 established the separate Riley Engine Company, also in Coventry. A few years later the other two Riley brothers, Stanley and Cecil, having left school joined their elder brothers in the business. At first, the Riley Engine Company simply supplied engines for Riley motorcycles and also to Singer, a newly emerging motor cycle manufacturer in the area, but the Riley Engine Company company soon began to focus on four-wheeled automobiles. Their Vee-Twin Tourer prototype, produced in 1905, can be considered the first proper Riley car. The Engine Company expanded the next year. William Riley reversed his former opposition to his sons’ preference for motorised vehicles and Riley Cycle halted motorcycle production in 1907 to focus on automobiles. Bicycle production also ceased in 1911.
In 1912, the …