Gentlemen’s Breakfast Club

At the 5th Gentlemens Breakfast Club on Sunday 13/05/2018 it was good to have our first meet with blue skies from start to finish.
Not long after I had arrived members started arriving as well at 9.00am.
We had a very varied collection of 11 cars parked around the display area at the GBC from 1930’s Rileys through to a modern Ford Focus ST.
Please remember we don’t have as many cars as a show, we are a club meeting and it’s about quality not quantity.
We are still looking to grow membership but once it hits a certain level it will be capped then a new member won’t be added until an old member leaves.
I’m not going to write to much this month as we have had a cracking write up from Andrew Briggs who won car of the meet.


Gentlemen’s Breakfast Club Car of the Meet Article


I was invited along by Brent, and attended the GBC meeting on the 13th May 2018, with 
Gentlemen's Breakfast Club
Andy’s Riley at the GBC

my Riley 12/4 Special, along with friends Maurice, David and Bob, in Riley 12/4 Falcon, Porsche 911, and Westfield XI respectively.  The sunny weather had brought out a wide selection of cars, vintage through to modern, and it was interesting to meet old work colleagues Andy, Geoff and Jason, who I’ve not seen since leaving Cobble, some 19 years ago.  The Special was not quite the oldest car in attendance (that being the Riley Falcon at 83 years old), but perhaps the most ‘different’ car?  Anyway, it seemed to be of interest to people, and was named as Car of the Meeting; as a result, I was asked to write an article about my car for the GBC blog.

Riley 12/4 Special at the meeting May 2018

Riley had a great competition record in the inter-war period with works cars claiming victories in the TT, and various Grands Prix.  Perhaps their greatest achievement was at Le Mans in 1934, where works-entered Rileys followed the winning Alfa Romeo 8C into 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th places; privately entered Rileys also finished 12th and 13th.  Meanwhile, a number of engineering wizards and racing drivers had found that the Riley chassis, engine and running gear could form the basis of extremely capable racing Specials, from Parry Thomas and Reid Railton’s Brooklands Riley 9, which became a production model, to the racing sixes of Hector Dobbs, Freddie Dixon and Raymond Mays.

Gentlemen's Breakfast Club
The White Riley

The White Riley

Raymond Mays had seen great success with his Brescia Bugattis, and his supercharged TT Vauxhall, taking on the world’s best and beating them at his beloved Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb.

  His big breakthrough however, came from his collaboration with Victor Riley to develop the White Riley.  Taking the underslung Riley MPH/Sprite chassis, running gear and six cylinder engine, highly developed and supercharged by Jamieson, the result was an instant success, taking records at Brooklands and going on to win many races. The White Riley was the forerunner of the E.R.A. (English Racing Automobiles) voiturettes, which Mays, Peter Berthon and Humphrey Cook created, with the intention of putting an English car at the forefront of international motor racing.  The influence and legacy of E.R.A. and subsequently B.R.M. on British Motor Racing is inestimable.

This car was the inspiration for my own Riley Special, having caught the pre-war racing car ‘bug’ while attending a VSCC Sprint meeting at Curborough in 2011. Having parted with my classic MG, to create some garage space, over a couple of years, I acquired a rolling chassis project, and chased-down all the necessary missing parts from all over the country.  It is as testament to the standard of Riley’s engineering and quality of manufacture that many of these eighty-year old parts had been spared from the scrap-man and lived under people’s benches for decades, in the knowledge that they could be pressed back into action with a little refurbishment.  I then set to the job of four years or so, restoring and rebuilding everything, with all the components being brought up to a competition specification.  I’ve been fortunate to work with marque experts who have carried out the more specialist jobs, Ross Keeling rebuilding the engine, and the late Ralph Wren manufacturing several unobtainable parts.  Nick Jarvis, who had an original works TT Sprite to work from as a reference, made pedals, handbrake parts and the wings.  I made the dash and firewall in aluminium, then mocked-up a body with plywood shapers and cardboard sheets.  The aluminium body was then made by Clive Smart of Shapecraft (better known for C-Type Jaguar replicas, Shapecraft Lotus etc. but he does enjoy a special commission).

The engine is a 1938 Riley 12/4, which is the four cylinder 1496cc unit introduced in 1935 as an evolution of the  Riley 9 (1087cc) engine introduced in 1926; very advanced at the time, with twin cams, hemispherical combustion chambers, and eminently tuneable.  The same basic pre-war engine design was carried forward into post-war cars after Riley was consumed by Nuffield, giving an amazing production lifespan of over 30 years.  The engine ‘as found’ was seized, with valve and bore damage, but was all repairable, and the original block was re-lined, re-metalled and line bored, then ceramic sealed ready for reassembly.  New shell-bearing rods were fitted, along with high compression pistons and high-lift cams. 

All new valve gear and a full-flow oil filter arrangement were fitted, along with new timing gears.  The flywheel (which weighed around two tons) was discarded, complete with the clutch mechanism, and replaced with a newly manufactured lightweight flywheel, with a direct-drive coupling to the rebuilt pre-selector gearbox.  Every component was refurbished, remade or replaced with period-correct parts.

Gentlemen's Breakfast Club
Engine Offside


One topic of discussion at the GBC, and a question often asked, is “how does this gearbox work then?”  This being the Wilson ‘pre selector’ gearbox, made by Riley under license from Armstrong Siddeley.  This is worthy of a few more words, as it is a work of genius.  Whilst initially intended to make for an easier, quicker ‘silent’ gear change, it soon found it’s way into the hands of racers who had been quick to realise the benefits of hands-free, almost-instantaneous gear changes. The gearbox comprises four epicyclic gear trains, interconnected and controlled in such a manner that four forward ratios, reverse, and a ‘neutral’ can be achieved by the actuation of brake bands and a cone clutch.

The driver ‘pre-selects’ the desired gear by moving the hand control on the steering column, then, when the gear change is required, it is effected by depressing the left (clutch position) pedal.    This allows the driver to make a very fast gear change without moving hands from the steering wheel.  Variants of this gearbox were used in racing cars, quality saloon cars, and also military and commercial applications.  The same gearbox used in the Riley was used in the E.R.A. and the

Gentlemen's BreaKFAST CLU
Pre Selector Gearbox


Pre Selector Gearbox

 We initially tested the car in Autumn of 2017 in stripped/racing form, and then fitted road equipment – lamps, cycle wings, making it much more usable as a regular road car.  We did a track day with the VSCC at Blyton Park and the car showed good potential in terms of speed and handling, albeit hindered by a serious lack of brakes, and fourth gear.  Both issues were subsequently resolved with only adjustments being required.   (That Bugatti will not get past us next time…) I’m steadily building up the miles on the engine and tinkering with things, and still have various cosmetic bits to finish.  All being well, the car will start competing in vintage speed events later in the season.

Gentlemen's Breakfast Club
Early stages. Two young Riley racing mechanics Ben and Alex


Gentlemen's Breakfast Club
The Riley Special alongside Riley Falcon Saloon


I would really like to thank Andrew for setting the bar on writing a great article on his Riley Special.

So now we have two GBC records to be beaten:

4th GBC Furthest Travelled member 220 miles – A30

5th GBC Oldest car to attend – 83 years old – Riley Falcon


The Gentlemen’s Breakfast Club is aimed at Vintage, Classic, Supercars, American or anything a bit different from the norm.

If you would like to put a friend, colleague or family member forward to join the club please email me the make/model car they have and their email address and I’ll send them details of the next meeting.

My thanks go to..

Breakfast Run: Jason | Blog Editor: Geoff Hemingway

Last But Not Least Next Months GBC meet Date!!

The date for the Gentlemen’s Breakfast Club in June 2018 is:

Sunday 24th June : 10.00am till about 1.30pm

Put it in your electronic calendars

Strictly No Partners, Children or Pets

Gentlemen’s Breakfast Club Meet



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We have still yet to enjoy a full day of sunshine at a GBC meet and the 4th GBC meet on National Drive it Day 22/04/2018 was no different to its predecessors.

Despite that we had a good turnout with several new faces and managed  11 cars present by 10am. I think there were about another five cars which  drifted in and out during the meet.

It was great to see more owners of the American Car section parked on the carpark as well. A nice brightly coloured collection of V8 muscle….

American Car Breakfast Club
A great trio of American Muscle made up of Corvette C3’s and a Ford Mustang

If anyone knows any American car owners please invite them along.

Another new member this month was Dave Latimer who travelled from Wigan in his Jaguar E-type which he imported and restored himself over the last couple of years. Dave’s next job on the car is to convert from auto to manual gearbox.  He is a keen car restorer and not a chequebook enthusiast.


Once David Whitaker had been on the Breakfast run to Yates’s in his Porsche the sun came out and we had blue skies. Thank you for doing the Breakfast run Dave !

Gentlemen's Breakfast Club meet
From heavy rain to clear blue skies.


Car of the Meet, judge Andy Wild.

Text supplied by Robert Finegan, custodian of E99 SHB

“It is a 2 owner car which I have owned for 8 years. It is not a ‘Show Pony’ but has been voted the best 924S at three Owners Club National Rallies.
Over the years we have toured in Europe, regularly visiting the Oldtimer GP at the Nurburgring along with visits to Spa and Le Mans.

My car was voted Car of the Day, hence this piece. ”


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(On the Blog see the Car of the Day article supplied by Brent Knowles at the 3rd Gentlemen’s Breakfast Club Meeting This is the length of text I would like to receive from Car of the day text in future please with 5-6 good quality images supplied with it.)

I added Peter Irwin to the distribution list quite a while back as I know he is “up North”  quite a lot having four Mk9 Jaguars restored here. I didn’t really expect him to attend a meet. When he rolled up at the GBC I was literally gob-smacked. Then when he said he left Reading at 7.30am to get here you could have knocked me over with a feather. Will anybody beat the the 220 mile journey to the GBC ? Lets see… Watch this space!

Peter’s  car was car of the show on request of the members:

Text supplied by Peter Irwin, Custodian of 232 YUA

“Gentlemen, thank you for the superb welcome, both car and I appreciated your warm reception.

Ive been asked to compile a short resumé /  CV of the car. I do not subscribe to having pet names for vehicles, in this instance I relented; Peanut is the hostile bastard’s name but often referred to as SYB….go figure.

The car is a 1955 Austin A 30, and is a pure mongrel in every sense of the word, borne of a different registration and modified accordingly.  The original spec was period 980 engine, zenith carbs, 4.8 diff, a “gearbox” of the magic wand variety”, anchor/drum brakes, Morris minor seats. Purchased at 750 quid….and I do believe I was robbed!!

Gentlemen's Breakfast Club
Peanut belonging to Peter Irwin

A true view of this car and what it represented to the immediate post war driver is well documented and more precise description can be found within the web… look up, the car was break through at its time.  Furthermore the Austin A30/A35 club is an outstanding and they exhibit all the best qualities of artisan members:- opinionated, highly critical of others, an unbelievable association with alcohol and in every instance all exhibit the virtues required to keep classic cars of Britain alive, basically speaking they have a total dis-regard of reality and restoration money

What has been done to it:-

The diff is 3.2, obtained from Heathrow Transmission, and a pretty penny too.  A 40 Gear box purchased via the web and sourced from Morecambe. 1098 Morris fast road cammed, oil cooled engine, with a modified wide valve and chamber head.  Engineering by CMSE in Bracknell; they provide engines for the HRDC Academy A35 track cars. The carb is a single SU HIF 1.5 and on a Mini manifold, I disregarded 1.25 SU twins primarily because of access and balancing issues. The exhaust is from Manifold, and is LCB and modified to fit. The rear end has had work, and I await a new fuel tank from the Austin Club.

Under the bonnet of Peanut


The front and rear suspension has been modified.  The front is essential an AH Sprite III with discs and stiffened shocks.  Discs sourced from the Web, shocks etc from Moss. The body was painted five years ago, Windscreen rubbers replaced and the electrics rewired.

Work remains: Ready to go is the headliner/rear window seal, halogen headlights (complete with modified circuitry), replacement seats and cleaned up re configured dash and instruments. You may have noticed the large speedo, it is ex 2.4 S1 small saloon Jaguar, and by calculation and a luck (mostly) the readings are accuracy and within spec. The body now needs some attention. Fit for the summer the restored AH/MG wheels the shinny front and rear bumpers,

MPG 35 town, 45 travel at 3000 rpm-60mph 2500 50 mph with 50 mpg, oil negligible.

The down side:- Rectum endurance rating very poor.. 75 miles then its starts to hurt.  Home mechanics and maintenance can be a chore. And for some reason people think I’m an eccentric…there are other adjectives and abstract nouns can also describe.”


The Gentlemen’s Breakfast Club is aimed at Vintage, Classic, Supercars, American or anything a bit different from the norm.

If you would like to put a friend, colleague or family member forward to join the club please email me the make/model car they have and their email address and I’ll send them details of the next meeting.

Parking Marshal

Look out for Andy Wild as you park, if you don’t see him when parking, just open your window and ask the person nearest you to send him over to you.

 Banner Image

New member Kevin Dodd collected his brand new Porsche on Saturday and brought it along to the GBC on Sunday it was greatly admired by many. Look forward to seeing you again soon Kevin…

My thanks go to..

Parking – Andy Wild  | Set Up and Pack Up : Andy Cox & Andy Wild | Breakfast Run : David | Our New Blog Editor : Geoff Hemingway

Last But Not Least Next Months GBC meet Date!!

The date for the Gentlemen’s Breakfast Club in May 2018 is:

Sunday 13th May : 10.00am till about 1.30pm

Put it in your electronic calendars

Strictly No Partners, Children or Pets