as Old as the Industry, as modern as the Hour

Pre War Exports

Riley seem to have exported vehicles from the early days, perhaps even before the first motorised tricar was built. Certainly in 1903/4 the fame of Riley had spread far enough for their engines to be selected by a light railway in Tasmania to power railcars.
After the war, in 1922, Cecil Riley was sent to West Africa to try and regain some of the export sales Riley had lost during the war in the region. Later he was to serve as overseas sales manager. By the late 1920s, Riley had built up a substantial export trade to many of the Empire counties, alongside former Empire nations such as Australia, South Africa and Canada. Many cars were also sold across Europe, particularly in those countries without a significant indigenous producer such as Norway, Holland and Switzerland - countries which to this day have active Riley Clubs.

Colonial Models

Through the early and mid 1930s, Riley offered a 'Colonial' version of many of its models. Essentially, this was little more than a raised ride height and more substantial springs, designed to cope with the rougher roads found in Africa, India and elsewhere. Whilst most of these models did indeed head overseas, a few remained here in the UK either because they were factory demonstrators sold off locally, or in a few cases, because customers in remote parts of the countryside required something a little better able to cope with rutted muddy lanes than the normal models.

Export Figures

Precise figures for the number of cars exported are now lost, but the number of 1930s models surviving abroad is suggestive of considerable volumes, particularly in Australia. However figures for the Nuffield cars of 1939/40 have been discovered, approximately as follows:

ModelIreland &
Channel Isles
EuropeIndia (inc
Burma & Ceylon)
Saloon 1211512121119 4377
DHC 12 162 110
Chassis 12 24 24
Saloon 1622 311 1120
DHC 16 1 1 2 4

Therefore, out of a total production of approximately 750 vehicles in 1939/40, Riley exported no less than 135 vehicles, or about 18% of production. It can also be noted that just over half of these (70) were exported in 1940, long after the war had started.
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Post War Exports

After the war, Riley continued to export, perhaps in even greater quantities. Many of the former Empire countries were lost to British producers through the 1940s and 50s, but there are a considerable number of RMs to be found in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. Indeed, the RMC was specifically developed with the American Market in mind. RMs were also popular in those European countries without indigenous producers, just as earlier Rileys had been in the 1930s.
Later, the One Point Five also proved popular across the Atlantic, but later models, with the possible exception of the Elf, failed to sell so well abroad.

Today, there are Rileys to be found on every continent (perhaps excluding Antartica!), nearly 50 years after British Leyland ceased production, with strong clubs in Australia, North America, and a handful of European countries, perhaps reflecting the esteem with which these nations hold the Magnificent Motoring of a Riley car!