Using a Vintage Car as a Daily Driver

Since the purchase of our 1931 Riley 9 War Department Tourer (WD) in September of last year the car has covered just over 7,000 miles or 875 miles a week.

Admitedly 1,600 of these were covered in 4 days on the Monte Carlo Classique Rally. But that still leaves 5,400 of ‘normal’ driving.

I have covered almost all of these miles and the car has been used in all weathers and for communiting. That commute has on a number of occasions been from my home in Ramsbottom to the Blue Diamond workshop in Fivehead – a distance of 231 miles.

So how has the little WD performed and what have I learnt from the experience. Below are a few of my thoughts and some pictures from the last 8 months of use.

As well as ‘communting’ the WD also has to earn its keep by attending the various shows that myself and the team attend.

The above photograph on the left was taken at Pitlochry following the recent Scottish Riley Enthusiasts National Rally. I then drove the WD to my home in Ramsbottom (the picture on the right) and after a good nights sleep down to Somerset. That trip (including the drive from Kingussie) was 552 miles in total and the WD didn’t miss a beat.

I often use the tracking app that we had so much positive feedback on during the Monte. Below are two tracks from my most recent commute to Blue Diamond. The left hand picture shows the total track and the right hand one my maximum speed!

Weather wise the WD has had just about everything thrown at it; sun – first picture en-route back from the SRE national. Torrential rain, second picture, en-route to the IMECH lecture in Leeds.

Finally snow in the third picture, en-route to the Monte Carlo Awards dinner.

So what have I learnt and what can I reccomend?

1. Always wear lots of layers, spending many hours in an open car means that the cold really does bite.

2. Lots and lots of coffee is a must when travelling to BD – to this effect the workshop made me up a cup holder for the WD!

3. In order to make the best job of motorway work you need to dance with the Devil. Crusing at 50 means you can keep in the inside lane but the bow-wash from overtaking waggons is a challenge. A cruising speed of 55 plus prevents this but means you have to dice with the middle lane and the people that think it is their own personal lane!

4. Good ear protection is a must, whilst this does dull down the full vintage experience it is vital if you are doing lots and lots of miles. For the Monte I invested in a pair of Peltor in-car headphones. These not only allow you to talk to your passenger they also allow me to make and receive calls on my phone hands free. This is essential when trying to run the business whilst on the move.

5. You never, ever undertake a journey without people slowing and taking your picture and giving you a big smile when they see you.

What has gone wrong in the last 7,000 miles?

Well very little:

1. A couple of headlight bulbs
2. A starter solenoid
3. The square rockers were leaking oil so these were changed for the later type with the clamp on in it.
4. A puncture

All in all not a bad effort and reflects the workmanship and effort all the team put into the car.

I hope you have enjoyed the above pictures and insights into using a vintage car as a daily driver.

Using the WD in this way has allowed me to gain a much better understanding of the development and preparation the team put into the WD. It also allows us to test out set ups and new components on the car.

The WD will continue to pound up and down the M5 and M6 taking me home and attending events.

At this rate I may even crack 10,000 in a year!