Restoring, Reviving and Rediscovering – 1935 Riley Imp, part 1 (inspection)

Bringing any car back to life is a great priviledge, but with my background the opportunity to bring a Riley Imp back to life is an honour.

The car was purchased by a first time pre-war car owner and intially the restoration was handled by Lomas Vintage Cars – as this was pre my involvement with Blue Diamond!

The car had an interesting past, nothing prior to 1950 can be found as the records have been destroyed – how often do we all hear that story today. In the 1960’s the car was bought by an engineer and businessman in Blackburn, Mr Jepson.

He used the Imp for a while and then for reasons unknown decided to take the car off the road. It then spent almost 40 years in storage on the third floor of his mill in Blackburn. My father and most of the local area noggin were aware of the tale of an Imp in a mill but it became the stuff of urban legend as few had actually see the car.

During it’s early years in storage Mr Jepson would happily show visitors the car and talk about it. As the number increased he presumably grew tired of the questions and interuption and subsequent callers were told the car had been sold.

In the early 1990’s having retired Mr Jepson decided to embark on bringing the Imp back to life. This work was carried out by a local garage, sadly the work was not all done with orginiality or Riley expertise in mind. But again, this was very true of a lot of restorations carried out in the 1990’s.

On Mr Jepson’s passing the car briefly was used by his grandson before appearing in a Bonhams auction a couple of years later.

At this stage the car was bought by a well know collector and became part of his ‘fleet’. This large choice of cars meant that the Imp saw little use, when purchased by our customer the car had only done 750 miles since its restoration some 20 years previously.

The initial inspections of the car didn’t reveal anything untoward, the wings were made in Aluminium rather than steel and their profile wasn’t quite right but that was it.

The customer who lives in the United States decided that a full restoration in the UK was the best way forward and so the project began.

Upon stripping the car down to its component parts it became apparent that the car had been subject to some impact damage at some previous point in its life.

The car had been fitted with a replacement engine and gear box and the conclusion is that this all occured at the same time.

What then followed was a complete nut and bolt restoration over the subsequent two years.

During this time Blue Diamond was purchased so the ability to draw on technical expertise was greatly increased! This combined with the access to my Dad’s Imp and his knowledge meant that I was confident this would be one of the best Imp’s in exisistance once it was finished.

The restoration of the Imp will be documented over subsequent blogs. I do hope you enjoy reading about it.

Restoring, Reviving and Rediscovering – it is what Blue Diamond are all about.