SOLD – 1934 Riley 9 Imp

  • 1934 Riley 9 Imp for sale
  • Good mechanical and cosmetic condition
  • One of the best looking pre-war sports cars
  • Excellent on road and track
  • Wonderful history file

Model History

Following the introduction of the Riley Model 9 in 1926, it was clear to see that Percy Riley had designed a masterpiece of an engine on an exceptional chassis. The 4-cylinder unit displaced 1,087cc and featured twin camshafts, overhead valves, a crossflow head, twin SU carburettors and hemi-spherical combustion chambers producing around 36bhp at 3,600rpm Clothed in stylish bodywork by Stanley Riley, the car offered among the world’s finest small capacity cars. From the start it was obvious that it possessed enormous potential as a competition car and at Brooklands JG Parry-Thomas and Reid Railton soon demonstrated how good it was which lead to the Speed Model, eventually becoming known as the Brooklands Nine. A 6-cylinder Brooklands and MPH models soon followed and from these Riley developed the next of its 9HP, 4-cylinder sports cars – The Riley Imp.

The Riley 9 Imp is, in essence, a scaled down version of the company’s 6-cylinder MPH model with a re-working using the Model 9 chassis and engine. It replaced the former racing models the Brooklands and MPH, that latter of which was exceptionally lovely but it sold in very small numbers, only 16 were built. The prototype Imp was designed as a 2/4 seater but thankfully it was built in production as a true short-chassis, 2-seater racer with one of the best body designs of the pre-war era. The Imp proved to be equally at home on the road as the track making it an immediate hit with almost anyone who was lucky enough to drive it.

The Imp’s short 7ft 6in chassis matched the excellence of the engine with the front chassis rails sweeping up and over the front axle and under-slung at the rear. A design that had proved successful in the Brooklands 6. The suspension was by semi-elliptic leaf springs and completed with 4-wheel drum brakes. The sporting nature of the car was finalised with the installation of an ENV pre-selector gearbox.

Due to the Imp’s popularity it has thankfully enjoyed high survival rates with around 80 cars believed to have survived from around 120 cars built during their 2 year production run from 1934-1935.

This Motor Car

The Classic Motor Hub is delighted to offer BGW119, a wonderfully example of the cherished Riley Imp. BGW 119 has Chassis #6025441 and was first registered on the 15th of August 1934 in Leicestershire, although the first owner is recorded as Mr James Baxter of 31 Spencer St., London on the 12th of November 1934. BGW 119 is approximately the 25th Imp built and one of the best preserved. It is not known when Mr Baxter sold the car or where it spend the pre-war years but post-war it was owned by Mr T. Davey of Shipley in Yorkshire who owned the car until 1961, when he sold it to Mr Day of Brentwood who worked for Ford Motor Co. in Dagenham. Mr Day owned the car until 1966 when he sold it to Mr Robert Seymour of Battle, East Sussex. Mr Seymour’s family business was a ‘Motor Garage and Workshops’ and during the 3 years that he owned the car he did various cosmetic and servicing work including a new dark leather interior that remains in the car to this day.

He sold the car to Andrew Forbes in 1969 of Hinckley, Liecestershire who did a more substantial restoration following on from where Mr Seymour had started. The car was then entered into the Riley Register Concours in 1976, where it was seen and admired by the next owner Mr Hendrik Shou-Nieson who at the time was a student with his first humble Riley Saloon. Annoyed that he had not won the Concours event, Mr Forbes set about improving the Imp further however as sometimes happens he started it but did not finish and it was in this state when Mr Schou-Nielsen and Steve White managed to secure the car together in 1983. The car was bought jointly as neither could afford to buy it outright at the time. They finished the car and enjoyed her for many happy years doing a number of rallies including a long tour from Denmark to Nice and many miles on sunny days with lots of regular use. There are many wonderful pictures on file of their various adventures. Steve eventually bought a farm in the mid 1990s and wanted to concentrate on Rileys so Mr Schou-Nielsen bought his share in the Imp although Steve kept a keen interest in his old car.

By 2010, this Riley 9 Imp eventually reached a point where it was starting to look tired which was not surprising given that by this time the car had done 60,000 miles during their 25 years of ownership during which Hendrik had raced the car for 6 seasons in Denmark. Steve, being a Riley specialist and knowing the car better than anyone was entrusted to do the restoration, building an excellent engine that is mildly tuned and exceptionally quick. It was also possible at this time to install an original and very rare close ratio ENV gearbox to replace the standard one fitted. The body was tidied up and resprayed although the wonderful interior was thankfully retained.

BGW 119 remained with Hendrick until 2017 before he finally sold the car. It remains in fabulous condition and just oozing patina. This Riley 9 Imp benefits from a recent check over and service by vintage car expert Paul Jaye and is available for sale and immediate inspection at The Classic Motor Hub, ready for immediate use this summer.

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