1936 Riley 2.5l ‘Big Four’ Special


DLA 906


Chassis Number

Engine Number

Riley 2.5l ‘Big Four’ Special

Chassis Number: 27K5818

Engine Number: 48-270

An attractive Riley Special, powered by a rare prewar 2.5l ‘Big Four’ engine and bodied in the style of the Zagato bodied Alfa Romeos of the 1930s. This combination results in a stylish and highly usable, powerful touring car with ample power for 70mph and beyond and a spacious, comfortable cabin with large luggage space in the rear.

Functionally, the car is fitted with the 2443cc Riley ‘Big Four’ engine mated to a postwar fully synchromesh gearbox. The car is effortless up to cruising speed and you sit low in the body with the tall windscreen and side deflectors protecting you from the elements. There is no top to the windscreen surround to impede the eyeline of a taller driver! There is a roof and tonneau included with the roof frame securing to the car with 2 pins with a hood bag if you wish to stow it for longer tours. If desired, the whole assembly simply lifts off and can be left at home if you wish to enjoy the lines of the body. The rear luggage space is accessed from a hatch at the rear but can be accessed by folding the seat forward if the roof is covering the hatch.

The car was acquired by the current owner in 2008 as a derelict Riley Kestrel. The current owner has researched it’s history as best as possible and created a large file documenting this. The car was registered in December 1936 and was on the road in the 1960’s owned by Mr J Miller who spent much time in the USA, leaving the car in the UK. From this point the car was believed to have been stored and was dismantled at some stage, possibly awaiting restoration. In the 2000’s the car was moved outside following the loss of storage and was acquired by the current owner in 2008 in poor, dismantled condition owing to it’s situation. The car at this point was a rolling shell with a 12/4 engine block but with no interior, timber or instruments. The chassis number was present and, with assistance from the Riley Register, the registration was recovered.

Deemed impractical for restoration in it’s condition, work began to restore the car into a special beginning with the purchase of the ‘Big Four’ engine and post war type gearbox. The chassis and running gear was modified to fit the new engine and any parts that were missing were sourced. The body was to be styled using the dimensions of a 1933 Zagato bodied Alfa Romeo 6C and this work was completed in 2015. The car was then road tested for the next year before. Paint and trim took place between 2016-17 and at this stage the documentation was updated with the car registered as Historic Sports.

Seeing minimal usage over covid this car presents in excellent condition and the high standard of workmanship is clear. Painted in Tuscan Red with a coffee brown interior with beautiful design upholstered into the seats and door cards. The door handles are located within the door pockets, leaving a clean appearance on the outside. The body is well proportioned and the inspiration from the Zagato Alfa Romeos is clear with a long bonnet and elegant curve at the rear down to the spare wheel mount.

Many invoices are on file as well as correspondence and research from the current owner documenting the build and registration process.

To conclude, this is a highly capable and well thought out car for both leisure driving as well as long distance touring, suitable for events such as the Flying Scotsman with large luggage space and excellent on road performance