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Homepage. This page: Geoff reminisces about his first car, a Riley 9 Gamecock, CG 751, purchased in 1961 and one that survives today.

"My First Car" - a Riley Nine Gamecock.

Riley Nines have never lost their popularity with drivers who seek a sporting vintage car, one just as at home in mild competition as on the road, perhaps for taking part in tours, or regularity tests. Geoff contacted me with his memories of buying a modified Riley 9 Gamecock as his first car way back in 1961, as he now explains.
I came across your website whilst searching for information on Marshall Superchargers for an acquaintance who has just installed one on an MG PA. I am a "hobbyist" at-home restorer, having completed an MGA 1500, Mk 1 Frogeye Sprite and a TR4, here in South Africa, and am currently busy with a TR3. Apart from the TR4, they were all total "basket cases". I attach pictures for your possible interest. The reason I am writing, is in response to your (current) lead article featuring Riley Nines, which made me wonder if the attached article about my first car that I sent to the Cape Town classic car club - "The Crankhandle Club", and which they published in the "Crankhandle Chronicle" might be of interest to you. The Crankhandle Club is a truly diverse Veteran Vintage and Classic car club that boasts a magnificent club house and allegedly the finest collection of motoring books in the Southern Hemisphere in the library located in the Club House. (You may care to visit the website at www.crankhandleclub.co.za for more information).

Enter one Riley, 1961.

The first car I owned (that still holds a special place in my heart), was a 1932 Riley Nine Gamecock Special. Special because a previous owner had removed the characteristic large rear boot and replaced it with a double rear seat making it into a perfectly acceptable four seater tourer.
1932 Riley 9 Gamecock car in 1961
I purchased the car in 1961 for the sum of £50.00 from Jeff Yates - a colleague in the City Engineer’s Department Peterborough, where I worked as an articled Engineering Learner.
The car came with a spare engine, which I worked on at weekends and frequently swopped with the one installed when purchased. There was no particular reason for this, other than the enjoyment I experienced working on (and hopefully improving) engines. It was equipped with the Riley “Silent Third” gearbox, no doubt named because of the deafening grinding noise that accompanied the first and second gear ratios. It also had a rather neat “Brooklands” change gear lever.
I ran the car for just over a year and then became infatuated with a 1938 Coventry Climax-engined Morgan 4/4 Flatrad, owned by another City Engineer’s employee who was selling it for £40.00. This was quite a sum of money for a person earning the princely sum of £29.58 per month, so sadly the Gamecock had to go.
It was sold to a garage at the end of my road for £20.00, and purchased thereafter by a young lady school teacher who unfortunately was unable to master the technique required to drive it, and sold it to Messrs. Sykes Bros (Peterborough) Ltd, Auto wreckers – the local scrapyard - for £12.00!

Rescued from the scrapyard, circa 1962.

Thankfully this wasn’t the end for the Riley, as a friend (the late Patrick Mann) bought it from Sykes' scrapyard and then sold it to Paul Stafford, the brother of an old school friend of mine for £27 10s. All these transactions took place in 1962/63. Thereafter I lost track of the car and eventually moved to South Africa in 1982.
Whilst working in the UK in 2005, my son happened to mention that the husband of a work colleague of his was restoring a Riley Gamecock in Bristol. This awakened many fond memories of my old Gamecock, and I wondered whatever had happened to it.

Riley CG 751 re-discovered.

At the end of March 2005 I contacted Roger Wrapson of the Riley Register, who advised me that Mr Stafford sold the car in around 1992 to another Riley Register Member who still had it in the Cambridge area. I managed to locate this owner, a Mr. Robert Leigh, and paid him a visit in 2008 whilst in the UK to visit family. The Riley was in a dismantled state, prior to Mr. Leigh’s intended restoration. Mr. Leigh had contacted Paul Stafford (who incidentally is the owner of a very nice AC Ace Bristol), and we all (three previous owners of CG751 since 1961) met together at Mr. Leigh’s property amongst his various other Rileys, Austin Sevens and a Morris Minor.
The part-dismantled car early in its restoration
I kept in touch with Mr. Leigh via email, and was advised in January 2010 that he had sold the Riley to none other than Jeff Yates, the person I bought it from in 1961!
Jeff has entrusted a full professional restoration to David Brown Restorations of Nottinghamshire, and the last communication I had from him included the following picture, so I guess we can happily say that CG751 has attained full circle, and risen like the Phoenix after rescue from a scrappy in 1962!
The Riley's restoration continues
That's a fascinating story, thanks for sending it over Geoff - much appreciated, maybe one day I'll be able to add in a final shot of the finished, fully-restored, car!?
Visit the motoring memories pages for similar car owners' stories.

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