Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 2nd November 2018

Vintage cars have a reputation for being some of the most beautiful models to ever be designed. One of the most successful cars to be created during the interwar period was the Riley Nine. The small vehicle sold extremely well and provided inspiration for future models like the Hillman Minx. We’re looking into how the Riley Nine was designed.


The Nine was developed by Percy and Stanley Riley, with the latter being responsible for the chassis, suspension and body. Percy developed the engine. The 1087 cc four-cylinder engine had a distinctive configuration. The combustion chambers had valves that inclined at 45 degrees in a crossflow head. The engine was mounted in the chassis, while the drive mechanism came through the rear wheels.

The Riley Nine debuted in 1926 and two body styles were available. The first took the form of a fabric body saloon called the Monaco, which was offered at a standard price of £285. The second was a fabric four-seat tourer that came in at £235.

Production began in 1927 and the public reaction to the car was great that only a few thousands cars rolled off the line. The side-valve production was shut down in favour of developing a new Nine for 1928.


The Mark II was modified to have the gear lever and handbrake being moved from the right to the centre of the car. But the most updated version was the Mark IV, which featured a new braking system and wheels with six-stud hubs.

By the 1930s, Riley were looking to keep costs down, so the company entered a partnership with Briggs bodies. Together, they created a steel body for a new chassis. The body was named the Merlin and incorporated into fresh models. The last version of the car was the 1938 Victor, which came with a 1496 cc engine.

In the same year, Riley was purchased by Lord Nuffield and production of the Nine stopped. The Nine was designed in such a way that made it an attractive, practical car. In the modern day, it’s considered a fine example of a vintage motor and a popular buy among collectors.

By pyntofmyld (Riley Biarritz) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons