28 May 2017

More than an old car #8: Riley Elf

This cute little thing is a throwback to the 1960s, where Singapore was just newly independent and we were slowly breaking free from the vestiges of British rule. However, the UK influence still resonates today with the Riley Elf in the picture.

The Riley brand started out as the Riley Motor and Cycle Company, which was founded in 1890. It made automobiles from 1899 until 1969, where the brand name died out after it was acquired by British Motor Corporation in 1952. Riley cars are now considered desirable classics as surviving examples become harder to find.

The Riley Elf was based on the famous Mini, although a more luxurious one due to a larger boot space. Its front was also changed from the normal Mini grille to the distinctive upright grille. It was equipped with a 4-cylinder engine and a 4-speed manual transmission, allowing it to reach a top speed of 124 km/h. Not very fast given how cars travelling on Malaysian expressways can exceed that, but one also had to consider the state of technology at that time. It was only 3.3 m long and weighed around 650 kg also.

Only 30,912 Elfs were made and around 700 are known to exist today, making this car a unicorn. It seems to have been imported here given the relatively recent number plate and it is on display at a cafe in Seletar the last I checked. People no longer make or enjoy these cars like they used to, and I hope that you will be able to treasure such unlikely rare gems before they are really gone!


  1. WoW! Didnt know it exist in Singapore.

  2. Nice detail of this Riley Elf car. I am amazed by this car. Check Monuments of Tamil Nadu, India at Astrolika. I assume you would like these to explore more.