By 2010 I’d been restoring cars for over 15 years, starting with a 1976 Datsun 280Z. That was followed by a 1971 Opel GT, and then a 1967 MGB which I sold in 2010 because there weren’t enough sunny days in western Washington State for me to drive with the top down.
By early 2012 I’d gotten the restoration bug again and decided to find another project car. To do this, I surveyed Craigslist each week, starting with 1930 and looking for cars by year that were under $4,000. In early April I found a 1951 Chevy sedan that looked interesting, mainly because I’d had one in the late ‘50’s, but I decided to wait a week to make a final decision.
The next week I’d decided to buy the Chevy and went back to 1951 cars on Craigslist. Instead I found a Riley! The inside picture is the one the seller had posted with a price of $3,000 and I knew it was the car for me. That was a Friday night, and I immediately sent an email to the seller who was 35 miles away. Sunday I still hadn’t gotten a response so I sent a second email. On Monday the seller contacted me.
I looked at the car on Tuesday and picked the car up two weeks later.
The $2,700 I paid the seller covered the car, a set of Whitworth wrenches, and three manuals including a complete shop manual. The car was last licensed in 1990 and had been in storage since. The engine ran perfectly and it was driven onto a car trailer, but very carefully because it had no brakes.
Since purchasing it, I’ve found out the car is actually a 1950 RMA, mis-licensed because someone didn’t know how to read the serial number. It has a 4 cylinder, 1496 cc, twin overhead cam engine producing 55 bhp, rated at 26 mpg and 75 mph top speed. It also has independent front suspension, hydraulic front and mechanical rear brakes run off one master cylinder, and is one of less than 50 RMA 1-1/2 liter vehicles known to be in the USA. Total RMA production was 10,504 between 1945 and 1951. Restoration is underway and will likely extend into 2016.