Amelia Island

The Ritz-Carlton
9 March 2018
Lot 111

1930 Riley 9 Brooklands

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$240,800 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida

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Chassis No.
8046
  • Reportedly the first lightweight, aluminum-bodied Brooklands-specification Riley 9 built
  • Originally delivered to Whitney Straight; raced by Straight and Denis "Jenks" Jenkinson
  • A regular competitor in-period at Brooklands and Shelsley Walsh
  • Featured in the July 1943 issue of Autocar
  • High-quality, thoroughly researched restoration
  • A wonderful British racing machine with outstanding provenance
Addendum: Please note that the title is in transit. Also, this lot is accompanied by a significant collection of historical documentation, available for review at the Access the Knowledge desk on site. Kindly refer to rmsothebys.com for an extensively updated catalogue description.

According to a previous owner, this particular Riley racing car was an early 9 chassis, developed for competition at Brooklands by Thompson and Taylor at the factory's request, and featuring numerous changes from the company's standard automobiles, developed by Parry Thomas and Reid Railton. At its completion the frame was sent back to the Riley Works, stamped as 8046, and received a Riley Works racing engine, of the same specification used for the Irish Grand Prix cars of 1930 and 1931. It was reportedly the first of its kind produced to the lightweight, aluminum-bodied "Brooklands" specification.

Registered as 'GJ18,' the car was sold to well-known British racing driver Whitney Straight in 1931 and was campaigned by him at several events at Brooklands and Shelsley Walsh. Its next known owner, Diana Carpenter, purchased it from London dealer Guy Griffiths in 1938; a letter on file from her friend Julian E. Fall notes that "it was then apparently exactly as Whitney Straight had had it . . . There is no doubt at all about the Whitney Straight provenance, as the car still had his logo painted on the scuttle."

The car was later sold to Brian Steadman, for whom it was driven by future British racing legend, Denis "Jenks" Jenkinson, in competition during the 1940s; he wrote of his experiences behind the wheel in the July 1943 issue of Autocar. "Jenks" modified the car during his time with it, boxing and drilling the chassis for lightness, and installing new fenders; the center "tub" of the body remained intact.

Per period articles on file, Steadman eventually sold the car to Eric Davidge-Pitts; further owners from Davidge-Pitts through 1965 are documented in a U.K. registration book.

Subsequently the car was acquired by Greg Johnson, who undertook three years of research to return the car to its original condition and appearance, as it had been raced by Straight. The original chassis was "de-boxed," its drilled holes filled in, and with the exception of one cross member remains intact, as does the surviving original tail portion of the body and the period replacement engine and gearbox. The remainder of the bodywork was recreated to the original design by the well-known British shop of Wilkinson's, and later Smiths water temperature and oil pressure gauges were added to the dashboard.

Following restoration, the car was enthusiastically driven, including appearances at the Le Mans Classic and Le Mans Legend events, and at the 2009 Monterey Historics. It is still accompanied by a large and comprehensive history file, recommended reading for potential buyers, including an FIA Passport in Dr. Johnson's name, and by three pallets of spare parts accumulated for its vintage racing career, an inventory of which is available.

Well presented in beautiful overall condition, this car would be an ideal entrant in any number of historic racing events and rallies, including everything from the Colorado Grand - in which it would likely be the earliest entrant! - to the California Mille and Mille Miglia Retrospective.