Today, the Riley ventured out to join the ‘Pre-War Car Spring gathering’ which was organised by a VSCC friend of ours and held at the Mil House, North Warnborough. There was promise of a genuine old country pub selling local ales and a hog roast. Oh yes and a bunch of like minded vintage car folks. Being as I do not yet enjoy driving the Riley above 50 mph due to the steering making its own decisions without consulting me, I used the ‘winding roads’ configuration in my satnav and set off in full Biggles attire. The drive through the country was great fun and the satnav (although I had no chance of hearing it) directed me to the meeting place with no issues. I will admit to being a little worried when I pulled up at a rather ominous looking ford but soon realised I had just driven past the hidden entrance to the display area.
This was my first outing where there would be a fair number of Riley owners – and I steeled myself for the onslaught of “humph! There goes another great car ruined to make a special”. Sure enough the first person to wander over said exactly that until I showed him the pictures of the car as-purchased. At which point he changed his tune to “well done, at least the car is back on the road and wasnt scrapped”. I am prepared for this and now have a laminated sheet of data and photos that I clip to the wind deflectors so people can see the state of the car when found. This tactic works as people no longer spouted the same old moans and were instead complimentary about the design and overall look.
I have to say though that the restored Riley’s on display, both saloon and touring cars were absolutely fabulous. I had no idea they were all so pretty and so different. All in all, I believe there were around 30 cars on display. I had a lovely chat with a husband and wife who have entered they 1930’s Buick into the Paris to Peking rally. They have only recently purchased the car which is all original (and looks that way) and having got the engine running, decided to take it on a 1000 mile shakedown drive into Europe. I nearly spat by rather nice beer out. Seriously, a 1000 mile shakedown drive in an unknown car – they must be mad, I have tip toed around in the Riley with maybe 150 miles under my belt and I am still not confident about driving it too far let alone entering it into the 10,000 mile rally! His argument was that if it can do 1000, it can do 10,000. I did mention that they may not be too many vintage Buick specialists in the Gobi Dessert but I have to applaud their adventurous spirit. I was happy having driven the 20 miles back home with no incidents 🙂
To be fair, the ongoing fettling of the car is worthwhile, or perhaps its merely driving the car and getting used to it, but it seems to be getting easier to drive as things loosen up. It is still noisy (98db at 1000 rpm), smells of hot oil, is very breezy at any speed and the suspension damping definitely needs to be the next job in order for the car to behave better on bumpy roads but it is jolly good fun and I am still enjoying seeing pedestrians wave as we drive by. Poop Poop.