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ME AND MY MOTOR; My love of Riley.

EVERY good driver knows that when they make a mistake, they need to admit it and do something about putting it right.

For Dave Atkings, the mistake he made was selling a Riley he owned in the 1970s because he was getting a company car. Although he regretted it almost immediately, it took him more than a decade to get hold of another one.

He recalls: "I really didn't want to let the first one go. I'd enjoyed owning it, but it just wasn't practical to have two cars at the time."

When Dave set up his own business in the 1990s, he had a lot more choice over what kind of car he could have, but felt little attraction for the more modern cars on the market.

He saw a 1967 Riley advertised in Sheffield and decided that it was time to set his personal motoring record straight.

With a bit of detective work he was able to trace all of the car's owners from the previous 25 years and get a good idea about what kind of life his Riley had led.

It had previously been sold for spares, despite having, at one stage, spent eight years garaged. Dave even managed to contact the original owner, an elderly woman from Cornwall, who had many fond memories of it.

Despite its age, the Riley has proved to be a reliable car and more than able to cope with the demands of modern traffic. It is at its happiest when cruising along at 55-60mph where the 1622cc engine can return fuel consumption figures of around 35mpg.

Dave, 52, admits: "I've added an electric cooling fan, electronic ignition and a stainless steel exhaust, but that has just made it a touch more reliable without really changing the appearance."

Because the car was largely still in its original condition, Dave tries to be selective about any work that he does. The faded paintwork was re- sprayed back to its original grey and cream and the leather seats were treated to prevent further deterioration.

Although more than 14,000 of the rally version Rileys were made, only about 250 survive.

And this has helped Dave learn his lesson about getting rid of cars he likes. He says: "It's now an official family heirloom. My two sons wouldn't let anything happen to it, and my wife has even done an embroidery piece of it which we have hung up at home."

As a committed fan of the car, Hamilton-based Dave has noticed it is a passion he shares with many others. Almost every time he parks it, someone approaches him to talk about either having owned one is the past, or knowing someone who did.

It also managed to steal a good deal of the limelight from TV stars during the filming of Harry and the Wrinklies, a Harry Potter TV show to be shown soon on STV.

"There is something about cars from the 60s and 70s that really appeals to me," says Dave, who also owns an Austin Princess and a Green Goddess fire engine which is on loan to a Military Museum in Newcastle. "I don't like modern cars, so I'm not going to have one"
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:King, Conrad
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 10, 2000
Words:535
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