1939 Riley Kestrel 2 door Special
Registration: GGK 581
Chassis Number: 49K1613
Engine Number: 49K1613
A 1939 Riley 16hp Kestrel, converted by the owner into his well known vision of a 2 door Kestrel, affectionately known as the ‘Kescock’.
The car was completed in this form and registered on the V5 on 03/09/2002 and declared manufactured 1939. The owner, a marvelous engineer, built the car up over a 20 year period with great attention to detail, finishing with a car that could be mistaken as a period model but with a number of discreet improvements and his own touches. Mileage at completion was reset with a record book confirming that it has covered just over 12500 since 2002.
The car was originally a 1939 16hp Kestrel and mechanically much of this remains the case. The original prewar 2.5l 16hp engine has been upgraded with Pathfinder conrods and shells along with a Healey manifold and twin SU carb setup, giving excellent torque and pulling power with drive through the correct prewar Nuffield gearbox with synchromesh in gears 2-3-4. 14″ rod brakes giving ample stopping power. The back axle is fitted with a 3.5:1 ratio and Sherpa van half shafts replace the original ones. A major improvement is the decision to fit a Volvo 122 steering box which provides effortless light steering with minimal play.
Inside the car presents very well indeed, trimmed in blue leather to match the exterior with light grey headlining. The sunroof remains despite the shortening of the body and opens as it should. The seats are comfortable and are able to slide back a fair way with a reclined seating position meaning that a taller driver will have no issues fitting inside. The seat backs hinge forward to allow access to the vast luggage space in the rear, able to carry luggage for an extended driving tour with room for souvenirs on the return journey!. There is no rear boot lid so access is from the cabin only.
The dashboard is largely presented as original with 1 small but very practical difference. Under the bonnet in the tool box sits a heater unit from a VW Polo which has been, as discreetly as possible, plumbed into 2 black vents at either end of the dashboard as well as slits for windscreen demisting. The controls for this unit are hidden behind the dashboard so as to not affect the presentation of the period gauges and buttons. Also hidden out of sight is a manual switch for the electric engine fan which also functions on a thermostat.
During the build process the ash frame was largely retained however at the front a tubular steel structure was added. The gives good rigidity with excellent door shuts with almost soft closing. The owner also decided that he wanted to fit open wings in the style of the Imps, MPHs to give the car a more sporting look. The rear Kestrel quarterlight has been lengthened to improve visibility and the front door has been shortened slightly to assist with the proportions of the car. This is a car that we know people have wanted to try to build themselves and, as the side profile photographs show, we can understand why!
This one off project is testament to the owner’s engineering ability and likely won’t be repeated to such a standard. A stunning car that will grab attention and create conversation at shows that is also highly practical for all weathers and highway cruising with great touring potential. An ideal Flying Scotsman candidate or Continental traveller!