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Ride Of The Week 01/08/2024: Paul Bates' 1964 Riley Elf


I was very fortunate to stumble across this car twice in the last 12 months. The second time, I was able to chat with the owner, Paul Bates of Allison Park, PA to discover how special his ride is.

This 1964 Riley Elf was an up badged version of British Motor Corporation’s Mini. BMC, like General Motors, got heavy into Badge Engineering, the practice of taking existing models and adding a few minor alterations to create new models at a lower cost. The Elf and its sibling the Wolseley Hornet, were aimed at buyers seeking more creature comforts than the no-frills Mini.

This Elf, is powered by a 998 cc 4-cylinder backed by a 4-speed manual transmission with what that Paul referred to as the “Magic Wand” Shifter, “Magically, you can find the right gear!”

While the car is very small, at 5’10” Paul can comfortably get in and out, even from the backseat. He’s owned the car for the past two years. “It was restored but is 100 percent original with only 22,000 mi.” He goes on to tell me that the car came from just south of London and he imported it over a 2-month period, “It was a paperwork intensive process.” Now that it’s on US soil, his Elf is among only 5 here in the states.

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