One of the greatest joys in the vintage car world is sharing them with the next generation. We were thrilled to be introduced to two gentlemen who have a passion for classic cars, particularly Rileys. Meet Ben and Alistair – fairly new to the vintage car world, they are embarking on their first adventure with a 1967 Riley Elf. We sourced the car, performed our routine health check, and are working towards the HERO’s Novice Trial in May. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Ben and Alistair from Three Blind Mice Media recently to chat more about their Riley Elf.
And some more history on Ben and Alistair..
How did you become interested in vintage cars? Why Rileys?
Ben: I became interested in Vintage cars when I was taken out in a 1937 Jaguar SS100, it was my first taste of a different era of motor car and it changed my outlook on how cars can be enjoyed. It was no longer about the dynamics and more about the experience, and how it made me feel. They way that it felt alive and not even remotely digital, as so Many cars have become today. I compared it to checking the time on your phone to checking your analogue clock on your wrist. My interest in Riley came form visiting Blue Diamond at one of Bicester Heritage’s scrambles. I was shown around the workshop and all of the different Riley models, learning about their British heritage and how they had played a part in car history and had contributed to some of the best sports cars of their time.
Alistair: I blame my obsession with cars on the older generations in my family. When it comes to classics, the authentic ethos of them appeals to me far more than anything that’s come out in recent years. I distinctly remember being taken to my first historic race meet by my grandad when I was about 8 and had a chance to sit in a race spec Lola T212 and the rest as they say…is history. I can’t conceive of who I’d be without the defining factor of my character being something to do with cars. As someone who is often told they were born in the wrong era, I feel a very strong connection to it all. The interest in Rileys I can credit to Ben, it has been amazing to get to know what they’re all about and see the ins and outs with Blue Diamond. People don’t realise how special old cars are. John showed us around the Sprite that he rallies, you’d of never known they only built 55 of them…it makes it rarer than some of the most coveted modern super cars and I know which I’d rather spend a day in.
How did you find your Riley Elf? And what work has been done on it so far?
Ben: The Car was sourced for us through Blue Diamond who are as we know are Riley specialists. They checked out the car for us with the premise that we wanted a blank canvas of a car to adapt to any event we will go on to enter. We will look to address the brakes and basic timing gear for the rally this month and then upgrade the car accordingly over the year.
What’s your favourite part of owning a vintage car?
Our favourite part of owning a vintage car is the way it can make every journey an adventure. There is a romance to it and as tools to make you feel special they are far more engaging than modern cars. Every interaction such as solid metal door handles and real steering feel makes the whole thing feel more tactile.
What are you looking forward to most about competing in a race/rally?
Ben: This will be mine and Alistair’s first interaction with competitive motoring on any level. The combination of vintage cars and having a genuine challenge is super appealing to us and we can’t wait to find out how it feels! There is also the comradery of multiple cars together which will be great to a part of.
Alistair: I listened to a podcast with Nicky Grist not too long ago, Nicky was of course one of the best navigators in WRC history. It really turned me onto the idea of navigating, one thing has kind of led to another and low and behold here I am, lining up as navigator alongside one of my best mates in a rally car…it really is dream come true sort of stuff. Obviously if we’re not having fun at any one moment, something is going south but I still don’t want to let the side down and I genuinely want to try my best to do a good job.
If you were to describe yourself as a vintage car, which one would you be?
Ben: I think I would describe myself as a late 80’s Aston Martin V8 Vantage. Loud, dynamically not the best and as British as it comes.
Alistair: What Ben didn’t mention in his answer is that we just had a chat about what each of us would be before answering this. I think I would definitely be a Jaguar, in this case something like a C Type. A little offbeat, not going for the obvious choice, far more attracted to anything that has more of an analogue, purposeful ethos and I’d stick a white race dot on me if it were possible…
What advice would you give to someone looking to purchase and/or restore a vintage car?
Ben: Come in at price point that’s acceptable for you, all cars of this age will have limitations and added costs so be mindful of that to ensure your ownership is pleasurable. The cars I have driven have proved to be worth their weight in gold in regards to how special they can make you feel on a day to day basis, so if you are to spend any money on anything it should be one of these!
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