Rileys 1896 - 1939 The Pre-Nuffield Years.
The Early Models - 1914-1925
At the end of 1913, Stanley Riley returned from his world-tour, and transferred his attention from the successful Riley Motor Manufacturing Co., to another Riley company, The Nero Engine Co. Ltd., which Victor Riley had founded some time earlier. He almost immediately started work on a new 10hp engine, and then a new car to carry it, as a sort of replacement for the discontinued 9hp. The car was finished later in 1914, but the outbreak of war stopped any production. In 1916, the Nero Engine Company bought some land at Foleshill, on the edge of Coventry, to further the war-materials production. After the war, this site became the new headquarters for Riley, replacing the many small, cramped and old workshops and offices in the centre of the City.
Straight after the war, Riley underwent further re-organization, with Riley (Coventry) Ltd. ceasing production of Wheels, and absorbing the Nero Engine Company and the Riley Motor Manufacturing Co. and moved to Foleshill. In the mean time, until a new car was developed, the Riley Engine co. continued production of the 17hp. This car continued in production until 1921, when the Horsepower tax was introduced. The company then transferred to Electric lighting, and engines / equipment for boats, until 1926. Also, in 1918, a new company based at the old Riley Motor Works, called the Midland Motor Body Co. was set up, under Allan Riley. By the 1919 Motor show, the new Rileys had been fully developed, and were ready for Launch. The first Riley was the 11hp, bearing the now famous 'V-radiator', and Diamond Badge. The car's chassis' were made at Foleshill, before being transported to the Midland Motor Body works, to have the bodies lowered into place. The bodies were either 3 or 4-seaters, and could be removed fairly easily, whilst still leaving all of the mechanical and electrical components in place. This car continued for several years, and in 1921 it was the first Riley to be marketed with the slogan 'As old as the industry, as modern as the hour'.
By 1923, the bodyshop had also been transferred out to Foleshill, where further land had been acquired, to accommodate the factory. The Riley 11hp was also renamed the 11-40hp, and considerable successes were made in all of the racing events that Rileys entered. Most were private entries, but several were aided by the Riley companies. Throughout the early 1920's, the Rileys had been available with 2 engines, the 10.8hp, and the newly-upgraded 11.9hp. Customers had the choice of either engine in their cars, and the split was roughly 50/50 with all bodies, except the 2-seater. This car (unofficially known as the Redwing, due to it's polished aluminium body with Red wings) generally had the 10.8hp. However, despite the success that these models were gaining for Riley, the company had decided that a new model must be developed. The designs for the new 9hp engine / chassis were finished in 1925, and the first few cars were built in early 1926. This was the now famous Riley 9 'series'.