Riley 12/4 Kestrel. (1934-35)

The 12/4 series indirectly replaced the 12/6's. It gave slightly better performance, while still recieving the same RAC hp figure. It was withdrawn after about a year, to make way for the slightly re-worked 1½ model - essentially the same car!
The Kestrel body, being one of the more popular styles was one of the first to be launched, and in the end, one of only 3 that were produced in any numbers on the original 12/4 chassis. Approximately 700-800 of the 4-light Kestrels were produced in 1934/5, including a few Kestrel 'Sprites' although there is no differentiation on the chassis number, unlike the 6-light Kestrels.
The body itself was essentially the same as that already fitted to the larger 6 cylindr cars, but mounted on the new chassis with the shorter bonnet. Inside the interiors are likely to have been midway between the 9 and 6 cylinders in terms of trim-level.

For the following year, the whole 12/4 range was revised and launched as the 1½ Litre, albeit still referred to as the 12/4 by most people. There were a whole host of improvements to the chassis, but the biggest visual change was that the Kestrel had a new 6-light body.

1936 4-light Kestrels

It is interesting to note that the original plan seems to have been to continue with a revised 4-light Kestrel for 1936. Two examples are known to have been built, using the revised Kestrel 9 body on the refreshed narrow track 12/4 chassis. Whilst the combination proved successful in testing, a late decision was made to use the larger 6-Light body, as used on the 6 cylinder cars for 1936, on the wide track chassis. Despite this, rumours abound of a batch of 1936 12/4 Kestrel 4-Light models being built to avoid some curious import or tax restrictions in Portugal. To date, there are no survivors to prove this.

Chassis Type: 22T; 26K


4cyl ohv
RAC Rating 11.9hp
Bore 69 Stroke 100
Capacity 1496 cc
51bhp at 4800rpm / 55bhp at 5200rpm
Carburation Zenith, 2 Zenith or 2SU


4-speed gearbox.
Top gear ratio 5.5:1
3rd G/r 7.84:1
2nd G/r 11.64:1
1st G/r 20.09:1
Reverse 25.19:1




Girling Mechanical Rod width edge operated shoes
13" drums


0-50mph 19.2sces
Standing Quarter Mile 24.5 secs
Max speed 73.6mph
Fuel Consumption 28.3mpg


Wheelbase 9'1" (aprx 2730mm)
Track 4' (aprx 1200mm)
Length 13'7" (aprx 4110mm)
Width 4'11.5" (aprx 1500mm)
WheelsDunlop centre lock wire 3.0x18
Tyres 4.75x18
Weight 23.5cwt
Fuel Tank 10 galls