1936 Riley 12/4 ‘Hardie’ Special
Registration: SMH 243
Chassis Number: JM-1
A unique and well known Riley Special and a regular attendee of VSCC events.
SMH 243 started life as a 1936 Riley 12/4 Merlin and was acquired after the war by Frank Hardie, a former employee at De Havilland, in dilapidated condition. Hardie set about turning the car into a racing special and used old aircraft panels to construct a minimalist, lightweight body on the already lightened Merlin chassis. Hardie also fitted a racing 12/4 with a supercharger that resulted in a highly competitive car that was able to compete with ERAs up until around 1970. An engine failure meant the car was taken off the road until it was purchased by Mike McQuire and John Blemkin who rebuilt the car over the next 20 years. The supercharger was removed and further weight saving took place with a new, stronger body constructed.
The current owner purchased the car 20 years ago and has campaigned the car extensively both on the road and in competition, covering an estimated 50,000 miles in his ownership. SMH is perhaps one of few VSCC cars that gets driven to events, competes and then drives home!
The unique engineering of the car can be seen just be looking at the silhouette. The bodyline and ride height are both very low which are made possible by the shortened chassis and the suspension at the rear that has been converted to quarter elliptic. The car has weighed in at just 740kg without a driver and is about as light as a 12/4 can be without resorting to special alloys! Another unique feature of the car, to enhance it’s rigidity, is the fitting of a 1/8″ Dural aircraft panel which covers the entire underside of the car from behind the flywheel.
Mechanically the car is in excellent order. As stated before, the current owner uses the car regularly on the road and maintains it for such usage. The 12/4 engine is fitted with a postwar RM crankshaft with shell big end bearings fitted with white metal mains. On the rolling road peak power measured at 72bhp between 3500-4000 revs. The car is higher geared to allow for more comfortable cruising and the pre select gearbox was rebuilt in 2013. The gear remote has been relocated to the centre of the car as opposed to on the steering column. The flywheel has been lightened with the centrifugal clutch removed, an MGB torsional shock damper has been fitted.
SMH is eligible for VSCC events and a quick search on google will give an insight to the many events it has attended. It’s current buff form classis is as a race car but is now eligible for reclassification in the Special/Sports class.
The history file includes past invoices of work carried out as well as extensive notes from the current owner covering the specification of the car itself and driving notes taken from his experience.
An opportunity to acquire a well campaigned and unique Special with excellent handling and interesting history