Cambridge-Oxford Owners Club organize Salisbury homecoming for rarest BMC Farina.
Based on the Riley 4/68 it featured a more powerful Downton Engineering modified 1588cc MGA engine, disc brakes, wire
wheels and many extras such as integrated spot lights.
Wessex also re-profiled the large rear fins into a smoother more streamlined look that foreshadowed BMC's own facelift of
the entire range in 1962. Wessex then created the Riley Silhouette in 1962 using a Rley 4/72 base car and the MGB's 1800
engine although only 3 were constructed.
(The original Press and Publicity photo taken on Bourne Hill overlooking the 'Greencroft' public park area near Wessex Motors with Salisbury
Cathedral in background.John Lakey was able to recreate the image although the original was taken when the trees had shed their leaves in December.)
Since the Club's MG and Riley marque secretary Mick Holehouse
completed the restoration of his Riley Riviera, one of only two
Two local publications, The Salisbury Journal and the
Valley News, picked up the story and appealed for anyone with memories of
A number of former Wessex employees made contact through these
appeals and all were enthusiastic to see the surviving car so, with support
from the club, Mick decided to take the
Henlys which saw them move to a new out of town site but the Mercure White Hart Hotel on the opposite corner to Wessex's old site
is still flourishing.
They agreed to host
the event in their car park on the Saturday before the local Wilton Supercar
and Classic show where Mick had been
(Picture copyright by kind permission of Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre)
Saturday was blessed with fine weather and was a great success
with 9 former Wessex workers and their families attending at various times
However, it was also obvious from the anecdotes
and memories that Wessex had not thought through the financial case in enough
Some particularly interesting memories came from 86 year old Stan Gordon (left) who recalled making
the re-profiled rear wings by eye initially
Goodfellow literally drew the line he wanted on a new Riley 4/68 with chalk and
left Stan to get on with cutting it up. Stan, like all the
Andover branch where Mick's car was originally sold, recognized the Riviera.
He had fond memories of the project and as a young man said it gave he and other apprentices cause for optimism about the ambition of the
company they were working for.
Alan Haddock, who worked at Downton Engineering at this time, also approached Mick during the show and was able to explain the Downton
Engineering connection and what engine work was done. John interviewed both on camera.
back. The improved power and braking performance over the standard 4/68 really helping it perform well on modern roads.
If anyone reading this can add further information on these fascinating and rare cars, or Wessex Motors, Riviera owner Mick Holehouse would love to
hear from them and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 07970 902886