(To enlarge any of these photos, please click on it.)
Frank J. Lang restored lots and lots of cars. American classics at first. Then his taste improved as he began restoring British cars. His masterpiece was this 1951 Riley RMD. He got the car to its present state a good many years ago, but he just could not go on. He knew it was his last restoration and he did not want it to be over. So he went on with his life, which is not yet over. But he recently moved into assisted living. His good friend Pat Sanchez, of Palatine, Illinois, has been deputized as the family’s sale agent for the car. He’s asking $40,000.
We think that’s a reasonable price for a car as far along toward perfection. Frank J. Lang is the only U.S. drophead owner we know of with sufficient sensibility to rectify a giant mistake, one we encounter too often on these North American shores. He pulled out a working Ford engine and replaced it with Riley engine 6549, the real McCoy. It is no longer a butchered drophead. All of us owe Mr. Lang a debt of gratitude for this. We can help by reaching out to all our friends and finding a proper owner who will give it the appreciation and exercise it deserves.
Now, about the price. Paul Storemont’s drophead 60D7579, long a staple of Bellville, Illinois, car shows, was sold to a dealer in St. Louis, Mark Hyman, who resold it to a friend of a friend of ours in New Hampshire for $27,000. That friend replaced Mr. Storemont’s naugahide interior with real leather, retopped the RMD with fine canvas, and headlinered it with real wool. He had the dash and woodwork redone by a company in Santa Barbara. He took the car down to the Amelia Island, FLorida, auction, where it fetched a cool $88,000.
All one has left to do with Frank J. Lang’s drophead, 61D7906, is install the windshield, hook up the rebuilt carburetors and attach the new stainless steel exhaust manifold. All the polishing of paint, chrome, leather, headliner, is done, as these photographs demonstrate, to near perfection.
But don’t take my word for it. Call Pat Sanchez at 773 580-4508 or email him at email@example.com and make an appointment for him to drive the 43 miles from his house to his friend’s garage in Plainfield, Illinois, to open the door for you and let the sunlight glimmer on the Riley as it does above. Plainfield is 38 miles southeast of Chicago.
(Eight months after this article was posted this beautiful drophead found a home in Troon, Scotland.)