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Released in 1961 as the 'luxurious' ie more expensive version of the Mini, both the Wolseley Hornet and the Riley Elf had longer, slightly finned rear wings and larger boots . Inside, the Elf bore the trappings of luxury synonymous with British cars at the time, so its interior was lined with wood trim, while additional chrome brightened up the exterior. Wheelbase remained at 2.036 m , whereas the overall length was increased to 3.27 m . Dry weight of 638 kg /642.3 kg (rubber/hydrolastic suspension) and 618 kg Front-end treatment, which incorporated each marque's traditional upright grille design contributed to a less utilitarian appearance. Larger-diameter chrome hubcaps than the Austin and Morris Minis, and additional chrome accents, bumper over-riders and wood-veneer dashboards. The Riley was the more expensive of the two cars. The name "Elf" was meant to recall the Riley Sprite and Imp sports cars, also of the 1930s (Riley's first choice of name "Imp" could not be used as Hillman had registered it). The full-width dashboard was the idea of Christopher Milner the Sales Manager for Riley. The bodies were built at Fisher & Ludlow under their "Fisholow" brand name. Plates in the engine compartment on the right side fitch plate bear evidence of this speciality.
Very early Mark I versions of both cars (e.g. press photo of 445MWL) had no over-riders on the bumpers and a single piece front wing (A-panel and wing in one piece, no outside seam below scuttle panel) that was soon given up again, allegedly due to cost. The special bumper over-riders first appeared in 1962. Early production Mark I's also had a combination of leather and cloth seats (Elf R-A2S1-101 to FR2333,) whereas all later models had full leather seats. Mark I models were equipped with single leading shoe brakes on the front.
The Elf went through three engine versions, initially, they used the 848 cc 34 bhp engine (engine type 8WR) with a single HS2 carburettor, changing to a single HS2 carburettor 38 bhp version of the Cooper's 998 cc power unit (engine type 9WR) in the Mark II in 1963. This increased the car's top speed from 71 to 77 mph (114 to 124 km/h). Mark II cars also came with increased braking power in the form of front drum brakes with twin leading shoes to cope with the increased power output. Both Mark I and Mark II featured four-speed gearboxes (three synchromesh gears) with rod gear change, a.k.a. "magic wand" type. Automatic gearboxes became available on the Mark II in 1965 as an option.
The Mark III facelift of 1966 brought wind-up windows and fresh-air fascia vents. Concealed door hinges were introduced two years before these were seen on the mainstream Mini. The gear selecting mechanism was updated to the rod type, as seen on all later Mini type cars. Automatic gearboxes were available to the Mark III in 1967 again. Full-four synchromesh gearing was eventually introduced during 1968. 30,912 Riley Elfs and 28,455 Wolseley Hornets were built. Production of both models ceased in late 1969.
Buying One:- The usual caveats that apply to any Mini hold true with an Elf—look closely at the rear subframe and for hidden rust underneath and in the floor ( mag torch from underneath helps and a magnet to sort out the filler and fibreglass). That lovely dashboard and interior will cost a fortune to re-trim if it's incomplete or damaged, although the twin-carburettor A-Series engine holds no such worries. Just check that it is original and documented.
The best Elf was the MkII, which was introduced in 1963. It was powered by the larger 998-cc A-Series engine, and featured interconnected Hydrolastic suspension from 1964, which added complexity as well as a little better ride comfort without sacrificing the car's legendary cornering prowess. The MkIII saw the introduction of winding windows, better ventilation and a remote-control gearbox .
Vehicle Identification – Serial Number Prefix Letter Code: First prefix letter – name: R-Riley, W-Wolseley Second prefix letter – engine type: A Third prefix letter – body type: 2S – 2-door Saloon Fourth prefix – series of model: 1 – 1st series, 2 – 2nd series, 3 – 3rd series Fifth prefix (used to denote cars different from standard right hand drive): L – left hand drive
Code example: R-A2S1-154321 (Riley, A type engine, 2 door saloon, 1st series, serial number "154321".
Despite selling well, the Elf was discontinued when British Leyland killed off Riley at present numbers left in the UK as taxed are around 380 with a similar number SORN and its crazy styling makes it more sought after than the BMC mini.
Riley Elf Dashboard/Faschia Official Factory Publicity Photograph
1961 Riley Elf MkI in The Big Mill, 1963 *= in background
1962 Riley Elf MkI in The Baron, 1966-1967 *
1962 Riley Elf MkI in The Sandbaggers, 1978-1980 *
1962 Riley Elf MkI in If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium, 1969 *
1963 Riley Elf MkII in Répulsion, 1965 *
1963 Riley Elf MkII in Lovejoy, 1986-1994 *
1963 Riley Elf MkII in Le silencieux, 1973 *
1963 Riley Elf MkII in The Plank, 1967 *
1963 Riley Elf MkII in The Black Windmill, 1974 *
1963 Riley Elf MkII in The House That Dripped Blood, 1971 **
1963 Riley Elf MkII in Perfect Friday, 1970 *
1963 Riley Elf MkII in Department S, 1969-1970 *
1963 Riley Elf MkII in The Adventurer, 1972-1973 *
1963 Riley Elf MkII in Happy End am Wolfgangsee, 1966 *
1963 Riley Elf MkII in Clegg, 1970 *
1963 Riley Elf MkII in The Royal Tour of the Caribbean, 1966 *
1964 Riley Elf MkII in The Royal, 2003-2011 *
1965 Riley Elf MkII in Great Cars, 2003-2005 *
1965 Riley Elf MkII in Heartbeat, 1992-2009 *
1965 Riley Elf MkII in Monty Python's Flying Circus, 1969-1974 *
1965 Riley Elf MkII in Chance in a Million, 1984-1986 *
1965 Riley Elf MkII in Goodbye Pork Pie, 1980 *
1965 Riley Elf MkII in High-Rise, 2015 *
1967 Riley Elf MkIII in The Champions, 1968 *
1967 Riley Elf MkIII in East Is East, 1999 *
1967 Riley Elf MkIII in Moonlighting, 1982 *
1967 Riley Elf MkIII in Incense for the Damned, 1970 *
1967 Riley Elf MkIII in The Dick Emery Show, 1963-1981 *
1967 Riley Elf MkIII in Chui lung, 2017 **
1967 Riley Elf MkIII in Hampstead, 2017 *
1968 Riley Elf MkIII in Inspector George Gently: The Lost Child, 2012 *
1968 Riley Elf MkIII in Inspector George Gently: Gently in the Cathedral, 2012 *
1968 Riley Elf MkIII in The Squeeze, 1977 *
1968 Riley Elf MkIII in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, 1973-1978 *** Ep 1:7
1969 Riley Elf MkIII in I Don't Want to be Born, 1975 *