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Riley Merlin 1936-7

 The Riley Merlin is another like the Kestrel with streamlined Art Deco styling designed by Percy and Stanley Riley  and spruced up by the factory design team  the ‘Nine’ was the highest-selling quality light  car in the inter-war period. Early models  were the fabric-bodied Riley Monaco and  four seater tourer, both powered by the four cylinder 1087cc engine in production from 1927. Due to steady sales, other body  options followed quickly; almost cornering the light-car market, offering vehicles that appealed to all. An improved Wilson or Armstrong Siddeley pre-selector gearbox arrived in 1934 and  a deal was made with the manufacturer Briggs to produce a  steel body for the updated chassis 12/4. Merlin's were the first in the  new saloon body,  equipped with Girling rod brakes. For 1936, the Riley Monaco name was  dropped after almost nine years and replaced with the Merlin although a few '36 Monaco exist.

The Merlin was NOT a cheap version of the Falcon as some state as the chassis was three inches shorter in the wheelbase ( 8 foot 10 inches) with differing crankcase/crankpins ( Birmingham p 189). For technical specs Styles " As old as' p.101

Whoever thought a 9 engine plus a hefty steel Briggs saloon body was a good idea was obviously a much slower driver than me ( weight on the road was 863.64 kilo). The 9hp car although it is improved with the pre select gearbox is lumpy and slowish and even being £30 cheaper than the 1937 re-introduced Monaco was gradually phased out as sales flatlined and few special series and the better 12/4 survived. If you find a 12/4 Merlin treasure it as a useful car, decent engine, decent gearbox and woefully under priced until chopped by an idiot to construct a 'special' when it often triples its value (9's are nice but slower and less fun than the 12/4 so check and buy the better engine. . .  my opinion only). This means the remaining 12/4 saloons are becoming seriously rare and when driven are a delight. If you like to drive well within most speed limits go for the 9hp engined version but not if in a hilly area !

Specials made from destroyed cars (woodworm/crashes etc) now need full documentation for both the VSCC and the clubs which hopefully means saloons will cease to be donors whilts some still remain. Some known cars  listed on the special page and further down the page were rebuilt after major crashes and as such are 'historic specials' done to 'make do and mend' and never to be confused with modern chop tops. Remember in the Uk it rains, snows, is cold etc and that pretty open top special if constructed from a previously sound car does not make you look cool, just a rich person with little taste who destroys history for a few weeks in summer.

Merlin Links :- Video of restored 9 ( turn down the music first helps )   1. Bodywork,  2. Engine,  3. Driving + Finished,  Riley Robs 9 Merlin Page, Riley Robs 12/4 Merlin Page ,  Bonhams sale DKO 509  ,  694 YUB when sold,  JT 6009 when being sold 2019,  Page on JT as the ONLY untouched early Merlin totally original,  ASL 682 when sold by Robin Lawton (video)

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

The last chassis and registration number is replaced with an *asterisk if there are no images or information publicly available but will be known to the clubs . There will be others in other clubs and countries please click + email info




1937 Merlin sold at H&H in 2016 pics by them



Advert from The Sphere - Saturday 05 October 1935

Riley Merlin in Films + TV:-
1936 Riley Nine Merlin Saloon in A Private Function, 1984 **** (FV 7818)
1936 Riley Nine Merlin Saloon in Eye of the Needle, 1981 **
1936 Riley Nine Merlin Saloon in Roadways, 1937 *

Know cars in data from Vernon Barkers book and other sources:- Those in bold are alive/survivors of the approximately 450 built . 50 + remain one with 'after and before' video with additional (gratefully received) research done by Andrew Hassam inc pictures Remember pre war the car 'year' was from September to September ie from the Motor Show so Sept 1935 was the new1936 model . Also the asterisks are used when data is from the Riley Register membership lists due to data protection laws and a members complaint however photographs in the public domain will show the data. For the book from the register the pdf list click here for many decades of condensed knowledge
Chassis plate numbers used 

26M  - 1936 Merlin 12/4 Saloon   @  £308 + purchase tax,  The rolling chassis only format  @  £256 + purchase tax. Briggs body. Light 9

S26M  - 1936 Merlin 12/4 Saloon Special Series @  £335 + purchase tax,  The rolling chassis only format  @  £256 + £27 purchase tax

66M - 1936 Merlin Standard  Saloon with preselect box @  £269 + purchase tax  

S66M  - 1936 Merlin Saloon Special Series with preselect box @  £279 + purchase tax

67M - 1937 Merlin Standard  Saloon with preselect box  @  £275 + purchase tax 

 S67M  - 1936 Merlin Saloon Special Series with preselect box  @  £285 + purchase tax 

36M - 1936 Merlin saloon;


The cause of the Saloons not being seen after 1958 ( first announcement) and 1961 ( first tests) was the new MOT or ten year old test. Many of the 'Works registered' cars were in fact export vehicles. Last Known 2006 shows cars on the RR list now no longer there, many will be still in garages getting dusty, plus a few chopped for specials by those persons of large wallets and little sense of history. Historic Specials were often made from MOT failures and after damage and are marked as such