Introduced late in 1957 at the annual London Earls Court Motor Show the Riley 2.6 was marketed as a direct replacement for the Pathfinder four-door saloon.
The 2.6 was the topic of considerable comment from the motoring press mostly because of its strong resemblance to its predecessor.
Despite these first impressions, the Riley 2.6, at least mechanically, differed in a number of directions from the Pathfinder.
Throughout their history, Riley often disguised the fact that their cars were marketed to suit the needs of the "top end" of the market.
With the Riley marque rapidly losing its glamour factor, the marketing team at BMC had their work cut out to sell the 1957 Riley 2.6, with one of the principal claims being that the car was much more affordable than some other of the previous models, although it still incorporated a variety of luxurious touches.
Firstly Riley's new 2.6 was fitted with 2639cc, BMC developed C-Series engine, which was hardly surprising since the same engine was fitted almost as standard in a number of other BMC models of the late Fifties.
As had become standard practice throughout the shrinking Riley range of products BMC linked the 2.6 to its counterpart from Wolseley, fitting it entirely with a 6/90 bodyshell.
The Riley 2.6 was as clear an example of the effects of BMC having absorbed the Wolseley brand that year, placing even more emphasis on the group's desire to manufacture as many models using the same components as possible.
According to industry observers, the Riley Pathfinder had been discontinued purely on economic grounds with the designers at BMC anxious to replace the long-running although tried and tested RM engine.
The new model, as its title suggests, was fitted with Riley’s new 2.6-litre six cylinder engine, which did provide the 2.6 with an additional power boost, although one that was negligible.
Setting aside inter-company logistics, the general impression within the UK car industry was that the Riley 2.6’s body was almost retrograde in design, although sitting much higher on the road than the Pathfinder.
On the upside is the bulk of the 2.6's produced during its surprisingly short two-year production run came with attractive two-tone paintwork, supplemented with chrome waist moulding nicely offsetting the division between the two colours.
Other glamorous touches included fitting additional driving lamps which did make a significant difference to the car's frontal appearance.
Despite these possible attractions, the 2.6 failed to capture the imagination of even the most loyal Riley followers, the result being that only 2,000 had been built by the time production of the car ended in 1959.
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