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SNAPSHOT 236: 1933 Riley Gamecock

A snapshot from the 1950s – the father of a good friend of your contributor at the wheel of his pride and joy, a 1933 Riley 9hp ‘Gamecock’. If not quite as dashing as the J2 or PA MGs of the early 1930s, Riley’s 9hp ‘Gamecock’ still was a sporting two-seater, but one that was a little more practical for ‘all the year round’ use, as it had effective and full weather equipment and even a decent-sized luggage boot at the rear. This example is as yet unmodified – a fate suffered by many Gamecocks. It shows evidence of at least 20 years’ use, dull paintwork and bright-work, the door dropped and a few dings in the mudguards.

The Riley Nine’s ‘Plus Series’ introduced a range of engine chassis and bodywork updates for this very successful model for the 1931 season, and 12 months later the Motor Show saw the introduction of further improvements for 1932, this double escalation then being termed the ‘Plus Ultra’ series. The main change was a stiffer chassis frame that was dropped lower at the rear, enhancing the headroom of the rear seat accommodation of saloon bodies and at the same time permitting an overall lower build of all the range of Riley bodywork. The Gamecock was a new body style introduced for the 1932 season, but was to remain available for little more than eighteen months, sales perhaps proving to be disappointing.

Features to appeal to the keen enthusiast were the fold-flat windscreen as seen here, and the twin-humped wind-deflecting scuttle, a pure styling gimmick on such a car. But the low radiator and relatively high mounting of the headlights certainly gave the Riley a sporting and business-like frontal appearance. The boys are set to cut a dash, sitting low in the car and wearing their perspex eye-visors.  The setting is appropriate – the large, upmarket late 1930s semis on a wide suburban road, probably somewhere in Blackburn.

The registration mark, DT3533, is a Doncaster CBC issue of February 1933. The double-skinned ‘aerofoil’ running-boards were a distinctive feature of the Gamecock, but they were delicate and prone to damage and deterioration, hence commonly were discarded as part of the quest for a more stark and sporty image. The trail of engine oil from the bonnet hinge suggests that work on the engine as well as the bodywork in this case should not be long delayed!

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