Hot Sports Sedans of 1957

Way, Way Back before there was a BMW M3, the British Motor Corporation  was already very busy building performance sedans for sporting motorists who now placed as much importance on having four doors as they used to  on a slick four speed.  In much the same manner that General Motors was  flogging Buicks and Oldsmobiles to the newly prosperous throughout the fabulous ’50’s, BMC was niche marketing, too.

Riley One Point Five

Riley One Point Five

The British Motor Corp. offerings were the Riley One Point Five and the Wolesley 1500.  These were Morris Minor-based cars, but with the big MGA 1500 twin carb mill, instead of the Minor’s 948 engine, driving thru an MG Magnette four speed.

Goodness knows where Tom Rymes found this gem, it’s about as pristine a car underneath as you’ll ever see around here.  The rest of the car doesn’t hurt your eyes, either.  This Riley put in an appearance here a week or two ago on a roll back transporter, because all that extra torque snapped the left rear half shaft.  We had one in our used parts collection that has rendered it mobile again while we wait for some high strength Morris Minor axles, no they’re not the same as Sprites & Midgets.

Riley engine side cover missing its draft tube

No Draft Tube Equals Big Leak

Tom also asked us if we could chase down a largish oil leak on the left side of the engine.  We both assumed it was the tappet covers leaking, which was in fact correct, sort of.  The front side cover was leaking because the draft tube which vents the crankcase had gone missing.  This wonderful technology predated the Positive Crankcase Ventilation valve by quite a few years.  Although used draft tubes should be thick as thieves around here, a 40 minute search turned up nary a one.

We used a rear side cover in Austin Green instead

A rear side cover in Austin Green installed on the front makes a nice contrast

Apart from the non-billable 40 minutes, it wasn’t a big deal, actually.  We know from observation and experience that these crankcases will vent perfectly adequately thru the valve cover because of the generous oil drainback passages from the cylinder head to the crankcase.  I ran this arrangement for years on my MGA before the 1600 MkII engine swap.

Steve and I were in hot pursuit Monday night of a Triumph TR 250 parts car down the road apiece in Gardner, Massachusetts which eluded our apprehension .  Lucky thing he had his camera with him, because he did manage to capture this magnificent fall scene in Winchendon taken from Spring Street, of the chair factories over across Whitney Pond.

The chair factories in Winchendon as viewed from across Whitney Pond

The chair factories in Winchendon as viewed from across Whitney Pond. Stephen Reed photo.

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