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 Riley Alpine

Riley Alpine  four seater  sold as a six cylinder production sporting Riley in two formats either fabric, or half-panelled  then saloon or tourer  body style choice.  The  six cylinder Riley models first appeared in 1929 with the 14/6 Fabric Saloon, and the engine being essentially a Nine with two additional cylinders.  Most commonly used was the 14/6 on a  chassis about six to eight inches longer than the 9hp and was the original home for the often faked Riley Ski Lady Mascot, as worn below.  The chassis used fitted the T series parts much better if stuck and by 1934 the engines couls swap into either chassis if spares are tight. The Saloon was the updated Riley Light-Six Saloon but sold better as the  14/6 Tourer

"Whilst it is theoretically possible to differentiate between the Alpine Tourer and its predecessor with chassis numbers, records cannot be assumed to be correct, so between the two models it is likely that around 175-200 were built, the vast majority being Alpine models." from Riley Rob

. . . .in 1932, pains were taken to ensure that Rileys were cars of high quality. Axles and other parts were described as stove-enamelled instead of merely painted ( none survive yet to prove this advertising claim so may be just that advertising blurb). Engines and gearboxes were made in the Aldbourne Road factory, where cylinder block castings were bored, honed, surface ground and drilled in about 2½ hours. The output of 9 h.p. power units in a good week numbered 150. The completed power units were taken by lorry to the Foleshill works, where the car assembly lines were situated, in a 700 ft.-long hall flanked by the parts stores.

The 3-carburetter 6-cylinder engine was built at Foleshill and put into the Riley Alpine as was a special series modification with many featuring the cheaper single carb. Here back axles were tested for efficiency and quietness on an ingenious rig to which the axle assembly with its torque tube and prop.-shaft were anchored, and driven by an electric motor, while each half-shaft was coupled to a slow-speed dynamo wired in series with the motor. Up to 100 h.p. was put through an axle that had on the road to transmit only half that power, the dynamos providing some 80 h.p. of this, the rig being in a sound-proof room, so that the quietness of a Riley back-axle matched that of the silent-third gearbox or was summarily rejected.

Another ingenious piece of test equipment was an ultra-violet ray apparatus for measuring the effect of strong sunlight on safetyglass, paint, varnish and fabric, to ensure durability of Riley cars destined for hot countries. As many of the Alpines were sold abroad they also featured a sun roof on request

The third Riley factory was the bodyshop, where coachbuilt Monaco, Biarritz and Stelvio saloons, with joints on the Weymann system, and open 2-seater Gamecocks, were constructed. Timber was shaped in a large, clean and splendidly appointed saw-mill, shavings being sucked into tubes and conveyed to a burning dump. The tools were mostly by Wadkins of Leicester and included a useful polishing machine. Cellulose was sprayed on under pressure from numbered nozzles, each one connected to a drum containing different colour cellulose, replenished each morning and stirred by electric paddles.

Much information above  has been amended by Alpine owners the un edited original  looks to be by  Bill Boddy  click for full unedited article

  The Ski lady Mascot:-
This Mascot was originally produced for the Riley 'Alpine' 6-cylinder models in the 1930's but was also sold by the factory with many exported models arriving with them new.  It is probable then that about 300 would have been made factoring in the numbers supposed by Riley Rob which seem about right  The genuine one  is Chrome Plated onto Brass so any real one simply upend and if you are allowed scratch with a pin underneath no brass = fake as the chrome is softer. (Normally wear means the brass shows through somewhere which is why fakes are generally mounted to hide this.) A nice Spanish company sold loads in the 1960's of a mazak type casting so are exceptionally light and all seem to have been similarly mounted . If in doubt ask for a receipt from any auction house or reputable dealer as if wrong they owe you as the law on fakes means a receipt is legally binding (hence short descriptions on some sites). They are also engraved on the rock as shown in the photographs which many do not realise  and copying blurs this as generally lost wax casting so her face becomes blurry too and all the expensively cast details are lost

worn copy of a copy so suspect fake immediately

Probably fake would indicate double check with a pin and scratch it inside the base ( lighter chrome in there)
Known real one check the modelling is crisp edges to the belt, signs of pitting from smog and acidic rain (coal chimneys etc for those under 40)

April 1931 Alpine Saloon  @ RR Wroxall 2019

1929/1931-1932  Light Six Chassis prefix 14L Alpine Saloon as fabric or Half panelled  @ £365 new price + tax

1931-1932  Light Six Chassis prefix 14L Alpine Tourer   @ £365 = Less car same price !

1933 44T Series Short Chassis  Alpine 6/14 £365

1934 44T Series Short Chassis  Alpine 6/14 £375  with the Special series engine + £60, Preselector Gearbox + £27 only on the 1934,

Clubs for this model:  The Riley Register,     The Riley Motor Club,    &  those from other countries listed here

1931 Riley 14/6 Alpine Tourer KV 178* for sale 2018 from Ashridge Automobiles

Wondrous Video of the Severn 'floating Riley

Compare the height and size to the car next door.

Original newspaper Articles:-

A small car with big performance The Riley " Alpine Six'

There has of late been a tendency, which from many points of view is sound, for British manufacturers to build larger and more powerful cars, designed chiefly for extreme top-gear flexibility. The last car which I reviewed was an excellent example of this type, and it was therefore a happy coincidence that it should be followed by the Riley an admirable example of the small- engined, high-efflciency, typically English motor car. It is difficult in a few words to analyse the profound difference between these two types, but it may be said of the former that it aims at pleasing motorists all the world over, whereas the latter studies more particularly the preferences of an Enghsh public. Both policies have their enthusiastic advocates, amongst whom the critic should endeavour to remain impartial, but I must confess that the new Riley Alpine Six which I tested recently came very near to making me a convert. It is, at first sight, a small car, being compactly designed and having an engine of no more than 14 h.p. On closer acquaintance, however, two important facts are realised first, that by brilliant engineering the little engine has been enabled to deliver no less than 50 b.h.p., and, secondly, that skilful use of body space ensures ample room and comfort for the occupants. In traffic the Riley is particularly handy, acceleration being lively and the four-speed gearbox admirably designed. A dead silent third speed is of just the right ratio for a quick get-away," and I have seldom encountered a gearbox of ordinary type in which changes can be made with such certainty and confidence. Only by gross carelessness is it possible to make a crash change, and the experienced driver will find that he can pick up his third gear, almost without thinking, at any speed within its con siderable range. The steering is very light and pleasant, and the brakes do their work in an agree able and unobtrusive manner. In short, one may take the Riley without previous experience straight into a Derby-day traffic stream I actually did this and handle it without suffering a moment of anxiety. It does everything that one expects of it, and makes no fuss about it. Once on the open road, the im pression of a small car is definitely lost. Here, in fact, is the justification for the two extra cylinders which differ entiate this engine from that of the popular 9 h.p. model. It does its work, like the smaller unit, at a high rate of revolutions, but at no period does it develop any trace of vibration and fuss," or merit the opprobrious term of buzz-box so often applied (and sometimes with justice) to small, high- efficiency engines. On the contrary, up to 60 m.p.h. at least, its smoothness and apparent lack of effort is remarkable. The particular car lent to me not having been fully run in, I did not go above this speed. I was told, however, that 68 m.p.h. should be easily attainable, and 70 m.p.h. would have been my own estimate of this car's maximum. In view of the fact that the annual tax is but £14, the higher ranges of speed testify to the designers' claim to have produced an engine of remarkable smoothness and efficiency. Maximum speed, as the average motorist will agree, is not everything. How much a car will do is of lesser importance than how it does it." The Alpine Six not only covers the ground in a thoroughly business-like manner, but does so in an easy, well-bred way that stamps the car with a definite charm and personality of its own. Another big car quality is the way in which this new Riley model sits down on the road. Its steadiness at speed is so complete that one has the impres sion of driving a 20 or even 30 h.p. car. In addition the springing, which is a shade on the hard side, is admirable in eliminating any tendency to roll, and also avoids that pitching motion which a small car will often develop when travelling fast over an indifferent surface. The term Alpine Six is therefore well applied, for I can imagine myself driv ing this car with great pleasure, in spite of its low horse-power, over foreign roads. It has the necessary turn of speed for main-road cruising, a gearbox well suited to Continental gradients, and a marked capacity for getting over the ground with out tiring its driver. But for the danger of being mis understood, I would describe it as a car for the enthusiast. That phrase, how ever, suggests something draughty, noisy and difficult to drive. The Riley is none of these things. At £565, it is a car which almost anyone may buy, while possessing a character and individuality which the enthusiastic motorist will appreciate and value. The range of models embraces an open tourer and two saloons. One of these is fabric, the other is half-panelled. Both have extremely good-looking lines and the standard colour-schemes are most attractive.

Motoring: Conducted by The Earl of Cardigan from Britannia and Eve - Saturday 01 August 1931

Two views-- picturesqu e and prosaic of the Riley "Alpine Six' Saloon The "Alpine Six offers a choice of two saloons, fabric and half-panelled

from The Sketch - Wednesday 13 April 1932

from The Bystander - Wednesday 02 September 1931

 By Heniochus. Riley Six Successful Model. One of the most delightful new cars of this season is the Stelvio Riley saloon of 14 h.p. Because it is a fast touring carriage seldom taking part in competition work, it is less in the lime light than the Riley "Nine," the champion of the IIOO-cc. non-supercharged engine class. I think that the Stelvio saloon, costing £398, is the most speedy and comfortable carriage in the £400 market. Its maximum speed is eighty miles an hour. The silent third is easy to change up and down at over sixty miles an hour, while the coach work is admirably fitted. The Alpine Six Riley has a shorter wheelbase and narrower track. This chassis, of the same specification other wise as the Stelvio chassis, has the same 13-53h.p. over head valved engine and four-speed gear box. Its Weymann panelled saloon costs £365. One of these Alpine cars was recently tested as an "amphibian Riley, fitted with floats to enable its owner to use it on a journey across Africa as a ferry as well as a car over the rivers. This change-over outfit takes about an hour to fit on the chassis, but can be carried on the car. It consists of a frame work, with rubber balloons as floats, which can be attached to each side of the car and further secured by cross-pieces front and rear of the chassis. The side-pieces are fixed to the running boards, so that the air balloons float parallel to the wheels. In a test at Pixham Ferry, on the River Severn, near Worcester, this Alpine Riley Six success fully launched itself on the water and kept an even keel when towed by a motor-launch at four miles an hour. Its owner. Captain Malius, declared himself well satisfied, so this car is shortly to proceed to Africa with him. from  The Sketch - Wednesday 15 April 1931

Captain Malin with an amphibian Riley car going down the Severn. He is taking a convoy of these cars for a London to Cape Town venture. The car is mounted on a portable balloon apparatus and driven by its own power through small paddles on the rear wheels.

Interestingly in The Sketch - Wednesday 15 April 1931 they stated that Riley themselves did the work on the floats for the African expedition .

One of these cars shown in Sheffield Independent - Friday 28 November 1930  sorry for poor pic

The Riley "Alpine" Six

A Small Car capable of a big Performance put through its paces by The Earl of Cardigan No one, I suppose, will deny that the modern illustrated motor catalogue is a very fascinating form of literature. To the hypercritical, however, it appears to suffer from a very general tendency on the part of the author to overstate his case. If we turn from the coloured drawings to the letterpress, we are compelled to wonder whether, here and there, the sober truth has not been-- shall we say?-- embellished. For this reason, I am particularly struck by a phrase from the Riley catalogue which lies before me. Mr. Victor Riley, speaking of the car which bears his name, states that it is built to cater to the desires of those who seek in the car they drive something more than that which will ensure just satisfactory transport." This is something more than a neatly turned phrase it is, in my opinion, a perfectly fair and accurate description of the role which his car does actually fulfil.

I am prompted, therefore, to discuss .the Alpine Six, which I have recently been driving primarily as a means of satis factory transport," and then to locate, if I can, that something more." It is, in the first place, a genuine light six," having the economy which is implied in the rated horse power of 13-5. This unusually low figure (the tax is £14) does not involve any lack of actual power. The Riley is willing to accelerate from very modest speeds without a change of gear, and the top-gear per formance on hills is definitely above the average. In the course of a week-end I drove in both directions over the Maidenhead-Henley road, and also toured some of the narrow country lanes between Henley and Oxford. On only one occasion, when no run was available, did I require third gear, and the fact that nearly 70 m.p.h. is obtainable is proof that the top gear is not unreasonably low. The engine runs at fairly high revs," but it is never fussy," has no vibration period, and appears positively to enjoy hard driving. The gearbox, of course, is intended to be used, and the easy engagement and wide range of the third gear should prove an inducement to any driver who is not a confirmed top-gear fiend." An occasional change down naturally makes all the difference between adequate and really good accelera tion.

THE brakes are excellent, being very powerful, smooth and progressive, and give the driver an immediate sense of con fidence. The springing, at low speeds, would be considered a little on the hard side, but it improves consistently as the speed increases, and is at its best when the car is travelling really fast over an indifferent surface. At 50 or 60 m.p.h., for instance, on the now devastated Colnbrook by-pass, its efficiency is admirable. The steering is irreproachable, and provides a particularly good lock. Indeed, the only  serious criticism that I can offer is that the head-room in the back of the very attractive half-panel saloon body is insufficient by two or three inches. It would be a pity, perhaps, to alter the very graceful lines of the coachwork by raising the roof to this extent, and I would, therefore, suggest a lower back-seat cushion for the benefit of six-foot passengers.

It is perhaps scarcely necessary to say of any Riley model that its appearance is a notably attractive feature. It is a good many years now since the first Riley saloon with the then novel and somewhat rakish lines made its debut on the road. It drew one's attention at first sight, and the com ments aroused by it were almost invariably favourable. It was copied in some cases my own car has very similar lines and, from a little distance, is admired accordingly-- but the Riley company, without ever pro ducing anything of a freakish nature, has contrived each year to maintain its reputation for individuality. New ideas have been grafted on to the original conception of balance and proportion, and it can safely be said of the 1932 saloon that it remains one of the prettiest small cars on the road. It is a moot point, of course, to what extent the ordinary motorist appreciates good lines." My own opinion is that for the first year he appreciates them very little. To most people a car with new paintwork is a smart car. After a year, however, I believe that the car with good lines begins to be generally appreciated. The paintwork now is shabby, but somehow it still remains, and must always remain, a good-looking car. Certainly I have always bought my own cars with this in view, and the result has generally been good. The few people who see these usually decrepit machines at close quarters realise their shortcomings in the matter of paint and polish, but the many who see them from across the street admire the good lines, and give them full marks for general appear ance.

TO turn now to Mr. Victor Riley's some thing more," it is never very easy to explain why one car is more enjoyable to handle than the average. In the case of the 'Alpine' Six I imagine that the enthusiast will be chiefly attracted by the fact that it definitely is at its best when faced with a strenuous fun' The more vigorously the little engine revs the more thoroughly healthy is the purr of its exhaust, and the more scrupulously it avoids the vices of the buzz box type of power unit. He will also appreciate the businesslike way in which it sits down on the road and makes lig;ht of rough going. It has, in fact, an ability, unusual in cars of this size and power, to get over the ground at a relatively high rate of speed without seeming to require any urging from the driver. In short, the Riley Alpine Six com bines with the handiness and economy of a small car many of the virtues of a large one. It is chiefly for this reason, I imagine, that it has already attracted to itself a considerable public. The 1932 models, very wisely, incorporate no material changes, but a number of minor improvements have resulted in an all-round performance which is perceptibly better than that which I remember from last year. With the saloon model still moderately priced at £365, this should be praise enough. Conducted by the Earl of Cardigan Motoring:

THE Riley "Alpine" Six Saloon, costing £365, which the Earl of Cardigan's road test will farther commend to the motorist who wants thor oughbred qualities at moderate cost from Britannia and Eve - Friday 01 April 1932

 Testing with Floats on the Severn  The Bystander Wednesday 15 April 1931

1932 Riley Alpine Tourer © CLIFF JONES PHOTOGRAPHY