1947 Riley RMA 1.5
A true driver's car with style, but limited performance
Blown cylinder head gasket (twice).
Voltage regulator ceased functioning.
As the cooling system is unpressurized and open to the atmosphere, the radiator core blocks with lime-scale every few years (it holds several gallons of water!).
Most original instrumentation has failed and had to be replaced/repaired.
Front (hydraulic) brakes failed totally.
Considering the car is well over 50 years old, it handles amazingly well and is able to keep up with modern traffic without difficulty. It has a surprisingly high cruising speed, but suffers from sluggish acceleration and (by modern standards) extremely poor brakes unless you have enormously powerful leg muscles.
Space is extremely limited for the driver's left foot when not using the clutch. Space is also tight for the driver's left knee if they drive with a bent leg due to lack of foot room as, the handbrake pistol grip leaves only a few millimeters of clearance!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 14th September, 2002
I have owned an RMA for over three years now, my most recent trip being of 455 miles. Head gaskets ought not to blow, if the torque of the bolts is checked from time to time. All prospective owners are advised to junk the original 'hot-tube' arrangement as this merely contributes to possible roadside failure.
Elderly steering racks will be found to have alarming play when the vehicle is jacked up - but the car will nonetheless run true when on the road.
WARNING!! Some models were fitted with a two-bolt starter in a three-bolt hole in the bell housing. The motor of this type can work loose, eventually causing the bendix gear to try to climb off the flywheel gear ring, resulting in a split bell-housing, and possible block with a broken lug or lugs. In either event it is an engine-out job to fix, v. expensive and time consuming. I know - it happened to me.
I owned a 1948 RMA for many years. It handled well and the steering was impeccable, but heavy. Acceleration on the SU carburettor was very slow and you were asking for trouble if you took it over 65 mph. They were prone to loss of coolant due to leaks in the crossflow, they were also prone to leaking at the back window. Everything was dead easy to work on, but checking oil level could result in a burned lower arm, I still have the scars. It runs well on crossply tyres - mine were Avons 600 x 16. If you had electric trouble it was best to rewire. I replaced the generator with a Morris 1000 type. If you get one make sure it's a good one, they were good really good.