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Bob Grinsell sells twice-restored Cyril Geofrey Fanning RMF


(To enlarge any of these photos, please click on it.)

This Riley RMF saloon, RMF10277, might well have been sold in 1953 or thereafter by the most New York blueblooded of British car dealerships on this side of the Atlantic, John S. Inskip, famous for its dealings in Rolls and Bentley. An attempt a decade or two later to drive RMF10277 across our continent came awry in Colorado as it threw a rod through the engine and its owner abandoned it. The authorities assigned it to a dealer who placed an ad in Hemmings, and it was purchased by Cyril Geofrey Fanning, Jr., of Portland, Oregon. Mr. Fanning, a longtime member (#159) of this club, did as well by the car as he could, but a restorer in Vancouver used unremovable deck screws in the ash frame and bondo in several body divots.

Mr. Fanning’s Portland residence was a stop on the “Round the World” Riley tour of RM Club Member Rod Forrest and his brother. Mr. Fanning was a Riley owning celebrity of the first order.

One legacy of Cyril Fanning’s ownership of this car, another RMF he owned (RMF10505), and a drophead (60-D-6094) he owned and sold, are meticulous well-written notes and correspondence. For some reason notes on the drophead but not the car remain with our Beaverton, Oregon, longtime member Grover Behrens (#269). Steve Tate, our restorer member (#321) from Yakima, Washington, remembers most of Fanning’s cars. He wanted RMF10277 after Fanning died in 1988 at age 54 of the dread social disease of the 80s, 90s and beyond, but it was sold to our most notorious former member, of Simi Valley, California, Fred Walker.

Fred Walker was known for swapping engines and components and never returning cars consigned to his care to their owners. Robert Grinsell, our most meticulous restorer/member (#190) from Manchester, Michigan, bought an RMA, 39-S-16195, and RMF10277 from Walker and was luckier than most. Both cars in exchange for cash payment were delivered. As typical of a transaction with Walker, RMF10277 did not arrive with its original engine, RMB2-975. Walker had substituted another. Grinsell believes the original engine finally came into the possession of Ray Sanders, of Paducah, Kentucky.

Here is the text of an ad Grinsell composed for RMF10277, which after years of restoration and ownership he wishes to sell.

Totally stripped down and restored by me in the 90’s to a high standard. New roof, headliner, wiring and excellent tires (2 new). New timber replaced where required. It has an RMB engine, bored, new pistons, rings, hardened valve
seats, modern oil filter. Featured in Hour Detroit Magazine, January 2011. Vinyl interior. Not a 100 pointer, but a beautiful car. Badges not included. $18,000. For more details call Bob at 734-428-9328 or email grins37@gmail.com. Located in Manchester, Michigan.

The shortcomings of Fanning’s Vancouver restoration have been remedied by Grinsell’s re-restoration. I asked Grinsell about the vinyl interior. He said it was done for Cyril Fanning and did not need replacing. A majority of the paper history of the car, including copious notes and correspondence about it from the late Cy Fanning, are included in the offer.

We would appreciate hearing from whichever club member or Riley aficianado is lucky enough to acquire this car so we may continue to monitor its history and use. We think it a superior value and would be so in excess of its asking price.

After posting this story, we heard again from Bob Grinsell, who has major components of a postwar saloon for sale as well. His message: “I have an RMB body shell, a little rusty but good & solid for spares. Has a front cradle & tranny. No complete rear end, no engine. Have seats, halfshafts, & misc. bits.” No prices stated. Make him an offer.

(Allan Young, an expatriate Brit resident in Sherwood, Arkansas, acquired this car nine months after this story was first posted. He did not learn of the car from us. He located it in a web sale site featuring British classic cars. He did not like the color, or is it colour, of the car as posted. He corresponded with Grinsell, who by return email sent better photos of the car, more accurately showing its color/colour. Young and his son visited Grinsell in Michigan. They bought the car, which now resides with them in Arkansas.)

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