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Riley Pathfinder

The Riley Pathfinder was introduced in 1953 as a replacement for the RMB / RMF 2.5 litre  cars. It had at first been tagged as the RMH but was renamed to Pathfinder before its launch as a sleeker designed  model  by Gerald Palmer who was chief engineer of BMC from 1952 to 1955. A spacious saloon  accommodating up to 6 adults in comfort with an  interior  equipped with the  usual Riley refinements such as wood veneer fascia and leather seating. The Pathfinder was the last Riley to use the big four cylinder twin cam unit that had been designed back in1926. This engine was now producing 110 bhp,  powerful enough to give the Pathfinder decent performance and a top speed of around 100 mph ( will do better on good roads!). A car tested by The Motor magazine in 1955 had a top speed of 99.5 mph (160.1 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 16.8 seconds. A fuel consumption of 19.5 miles per imperial gallon (14.5 L/100 km; 16.2 mpg‑US) was recorded. The test car cost £1240 including taxes. Due to this the Pathfinder was used  by British police  around the country as their preferred vehicle along with the Wolseley 6/90. 5152/5536 Pathfinders had been produced by the time production ended in 1957. It was replaced by the Riley Two-Point-Six which shared the same bodywork as the Wolseley 6/90 and was powered by the same BMC C Series 6 cylinder 2.6 litre engine. 

**The Riley Wayfarer was  a 1.5-litre version of the heavy Riley 2.5-litre Pathfinder. The Pathfinder-based prototype was the product of Enever design ( Sidney Enever) having the right hand gear change, 1.5 litre RME engine  with the Pathfinder body which had been designed by Gerald Palmer at Cowley . Occasionally referred to as an RMG,  ultimately rejected as underpowered and spent its life working as a prototype used as a factory runabout between Cowley and Abingdon. They also had a six light version of the RMF  again by Sydney Enever which MG development played with  plus another Pathfinder with disc brakes. Somewhere there will be illustrations but nothing located**Additional info from Don Hayter's MGB Story: The Birth of the MGB in MG's Abingdon Design ... By Don Hayter

For the Pathfinder manual hosted by Riley's in western Australia click here For the Pathfinder in the police click here   after the RM's

1955 Pathfinder restoration video click here

Body style 4-door saloon;   Engine 2.5 L Twin cam Straight-4;  Gearbox 4-speed manual, optional overdrive 3-speed automatic (from 1956)  Wheelbase 2,883 mm Length 4,648 mm Width 1,702 mm Height 1,524 mm;   Fuel system Twin H4 SU carburettors;  Output Power output 106 bhp /79 kW @ 4,500 rpm Tax rating 16hp 

Production Figures :-

1953 + 4 551 UK; 263 RHD export; 74 LHD export; (889 total) ~  Chassis numbers now run from October to September MAA 501 - 1390

1955  1916 UK; 638 RHD export; 152 LHD export; 1 rolling chassis chassis 2440 used at Shows and later at Cowley experimentaly (2719 total) ~  Chassis numbers  MAA 1391- 4110

1956  1289 UK; 97 RHD export; 83 LHD export; (1477 total) ~ Chassis numbers  MAA  4111 - 5588

1957  42 UK; 17 RHD export; 18 LHD export; 1 rolling chassis (67 total) Chassis numbers  MAA 5589 - 5652

 Total Production 5152 cars

Chassis Numbering alters for the Pathfinder to the Nuffield/BMC standard:-

example MAJB135505 translates as 

M = 2.5 litres;   A  4 door saloon;  J = top colour of a two tone car in this instance Dk Grey;   B= base colour of a two tone in this instance Black; 1 = right hand drive/home market;  5505 = chassis number



Officlal Factory Publicity Photograph


1956 BMC  Riley Brochure












"Riley Pathfinder, year 1956. Chassis number 42XX, engine number DP25R24XXX. Colour two-tone blue metallic divided by a red pin-stripe on the sides. Interior pale grey leather seats and blue carpet. This remarkable and rare Riley Pathfinder was sold new in the Netherlands. The automobile comes from the third owner. All previous owners and the history are known. From 1953 until 1957 only 5152 cars of this type were built. The Pathfinder is fitted with the splendid ‘twin-cam’ Riley four cylinder engine. Remarkable is the left hand position of the ‘shift-stick’ in this left hand drive car". . . .pics all copywrite Marc Vorgers from when the car was for sale via Classic Garage

THE RILEY PATHFINDER By WILLIAM HARTLEY :- We each of us require certain specific features in one single car. These features depend on the sort of motoring we like, our pockets, and our domestic needs in transport. That, no doubt, is why there is such an enormous diversity of models avail able on the British market. For me, with so many- cars to try, a choice is not easy and if the truth were known I would need about four cars to fill all my various needs and purposes, as I suppose would a good many other people, too. It is all the more pleasant, therefore, when I come across a car that as nearly as any fills my various bills Such, in my case, is the Riley Pathfinder. In brief, it provides fast transport with scope for quite sporting driving, there is ample room for my family, reasonable economy of operation, and some nice little details of design and finish which give it an individual touch. That it is a good-looking car there can be no doubt, although I rate that feature low in any list of requirements for me, since I spend my time inside it and not outside admiring the line But the Pathfinder has the typical Riley low line which gives a feeling of safety.

From the Driver's Seat The interior finish is good and stylish, with a nice warmth and conservatism in that there is wood to be seen The seating is almost luxurious and the driving position splendid. Sit in the driving seat with me for a moment. Before you, the instruments are clearly visible to the driver and at night they are illuminated by black lighting in two stages. That is, with the air of infra-red, the figures glow kindly at you in the first stage, and with another pull on the knob, the extra lighting gives you the mileage totals in the speedometer face. The clock is mounted above the windscreen in the centre. I like it there everyone in the car can see it. But it would be better if it were illuminated at night, I think.

Good Vision In front of the passenger there is a hand some glove-box or locker and above it, a map-reading light. This acts as courtesy light and comes on when either front door is open, but of course it can be put on when they are closed, too. Still in the driver's seat, the forward vision is good, and the rear view through the mirror ample. Mind you, I do like exterior mirrors as well, which I fit to any car I own. The heater and ventilation controls are central and con venient, the switch for the fan being incor porated in the knoD of one of the levers. A useful idea. The car heats up well, but it takes rather a long time to do it from cold as the engine may be over-cooled. Mind you, I tried the car out in the recent snow spell, but even then a muff on the radiator would be helpful, or one of those blinds which are out of sight and easily controlled. Once the engine was warm, the car got very warm inside. I would like better feeding of air to the screen, by the way, for de-frosting and de-misting. The gear lever is a short, stubby affair on the floor by the right hand. I like that very much, although it was at times a little difficult to get into gear from stationary.

The Best Indicator The traffic indicator switch is very novel and handy. It is incorporated in the horn ring on the steering wheel and about the best I have come across, serving both purposes with the greatest of ease. One more minor complaint. With third gear engaged, I several times barked my knuckles on the lever when winding the driver's window up or down. I wonder why these things don't come to light earlier Anyway, these minor matters are forgotten when the car is on the road. Unfortunately, as I said, the snow coincided with my few days with the Pathfinder (it would have been hard to find three days without it in my part of the country this year), but I did find one stretch of open, clear, dry road. The manner in which we reached well over 90 m.p.h. proved to me the life there is in the engine. I imagine the magic 100 is obtainable as a reasonable maximum. The brakes allowed this short, quick burst with safety, a most important point. They are progressive and light in action, a valuable point. The steering and suspension both satisfied me for either fast driving or for family touring, and that makes them right. The several journeys I made in the full winter variety of weather proved to me that the Pathfinder is the sort of car that can be used as a fastish point-to-point car, or as a gentle, docile, comfortable family pleasure car. It has all the feeling of the traditional Riley, which means a certain feel that only Riley owners will know and which, no doubt, makes so many of them stick to the make year after year. It departs from the traditional appearance of Rileys over so many years, and those who feared that this might take it out of the Riley tradition can be reassured. It is a Riley through and through, and that should sum it up. from The Sketch - Wednesday 23 March 1955




Real Anorak info, Riley Pathfinders in Films/TV:-
1953 Riley Pathfinder in Souvenir d'Italie, 1957 *= in background
1953 Riley Pathfinder in Homicide, 1964-1976 **
1953 Riley Pathfinder in Look at Life: Over and Under, 1960 *
1953 Riley Pathfinder in Monarch of the Glen, 2000-2006 *
1954 Riley Pathfinder in Le défilé d'ouverture, 1954 *
1954 Riley Pathfinder in A Great Ship, 1962 *
1955 Riley Pathfinder in Giant Load, 1958 * (WBH 784)
1955 Riley Pathfinder in Dateline Britain: Look at London, 1958 *( PYW 65)
1956 Riley Pathfinder in The Chief, 1990-1995 ****  (TOE 514)
1957 Riley Pathfinder in Dangerous Knowledge, 1976 ****= car used by main character (45 MMK) number now sold not on car


Clubs in the Uk catering for this model:-

All other countries on the contact page. Due to public liability laws spares can only be sold to current club members. Both clubs have a considerable spare parts supply  so best join at least one to gain information, help, and  information from the experts who have already 'been there' . Cars are also cheaper with known histories sold via the clubs than ebay etc.
Riley Motor Club    rileymotorclub.org/  for all ages inc pre war cars originally a gents club of owners 

The Riley RM Club      https://www.rileyrmclub.org.uk  Started in the 70's to cater for the RM's only with large spares department