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What is the purpose of this club?

Notice the fine carriage-work, even if you cannot see all of it. Ample upholstery. Clean design. It was 1953 and the Riley drophead was in Las Vegas to pose with Miss Monroe, who was there to portray Pola Debevoise in “How to Marry a Millionaire.” Riley Motor Club USA was in its first year. The car did its best to appear as alluring as the actresss, but Hollywood is fickle. They had a Singer in the wings as a backup. As the studios had Kim Novak to threaten Monroe with if she kept coming late to the set.

Early this year I received a call from a Studebaker buff in Phoenix called Morrie Shaw. He’d had a set of four wood interior window trims for a Riley saloon for more than thirty years. Their owner had left them to be refinished and had not returned. Morrie had long given up hope that he would. So he contacted the club in the person of yours truly. Morrie was headed to Bakersfield for a prewar auto swap meet, but we couldn’t work out a drop off place for them. So he shipped them to me.

In the meantime I’d been put in touch with Maurice LeBlanc, of Redwood City, California, who became a new member. He has a fine cream Riley RMB with an off-brand engine and drive-train. That change was made long before Mo bought the car, and he is not about to undo it.

I had spent a long time with aging club rosters trying to find a car from Phoenix that was the source of the window trim, but we had none on the books that matched. Until Mo mentioned that his car, before it blew its engine, had been from Phoenix. I asked him about his window trim. He said his was awful temporary pot metal.

Yes, thanks to the Riley Motor Club Of North America, car and window trim, after being apart more than three decades, have been reunited. It’s a small Riley world out there, and the glue that holds it together on each continent are its Riley clubs, ours included.

Enlarge Marilyn and the windshield of her RMD by clicking your cursor on them, giving an improved view of even the Cadillac in the background.

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