From A Bench Front Seat (Part Two)

Concluding our brief examination of Riley’s ill-fated Pathfinder. 

Riley Pathfinder 1953-1957 classiccargarage

Let us now allow this Oxford flower to flourish a little, let the sunlight dance upon its flanks. One could choose black, maroon, green, blue or grey for exterior hues. Early 1956 models could be had with a factory duo tone effect, the roof having the second colour although a considerable amount of custom effects were available from the beginning. J. James & Co, a London Riley agent supplied Pathfinders finished with a contrasting colour to bonnet, roof and boot lid.

Riley cars are for the discerning motorist” and their own Magnificent Motoring tag lines were highly applicable, even to the troubled Pathfinder. John Bolster, the Autosport reporter and motor racing correspondent noted in 1955, “I have driven every Riley model produced in the last twenty five years and this RMH is the best to bear the name of Riley.

Once Palmer had vacated Abingdon, Riley engineers designed and built an experimental and improved Pathfinder, codenamed RMJ. With disc brakes and Palmer’s tweaks to the BMC C-series engine, which included overhead cams, this could well have been the perfect Pathfinder. Once more, management had other ideas, rejecting the idea out of hand and being guided by the inherently boring route of penny-pinching conformity, the final hundred Pathfinders (MY1957) were given a Wolseley 6/90 chassis, rigid rear axles and leaf springs. Throughout 1956 and just prior to the 1957 British Motor show, the Pathfinder was the only Riley being produced. The end was nigh.

Prior to all this, Palmer sought council from Swiss salesmen on a trip to the 1952 Geneva show, gleaning that a six seater was most definitely the way to go. This would see the new Riley compete with Jaguar and Mercedes, the car’s natural competitors in Palmer’s eyes where his Cowley and Abingdon masters envisaged the car to seat four. Those bench seats admirably and comfortably seating the whole family with friends. Palmer openly admits to his concerns and surprise of the Pathfinders failings whilst at Vauxhall but in his autobiography, Auto Architect, he states that no problems occurred on his watch.

Image: The author

To the modern day, where Riley, once “As old as the industry, as modern as the hour” club members use and run cars regularly with some committed to providing spares to continue the Pathfinder journey.

Certainly not to be confused with the Pathfinder truck from Nissan some forty years later (with its hidden rear door handles!) this British slice of fifties motoring history has an ever dwindling yet proud, global following. Existing examples run from used enthusiastically (some in excess of half a million miles), pampered like a Hollywood pooch, to restored within an inch of their lives or in bits, in boxes, in trouble – but still there – just.

Classic car magazines, so prone to offering comparisons may pit a Pathfinder against a Rover 90, an Armstrong-Siddeley Sapphire (where a chap could still wear his hat), a Mercedes Ponton or the Jaguar 2.4 litre (Mark 1). As one hopelessly biased toward the Blue Diamond (stemming from nothing but pure interest in the RMH), these (also-rans) have their approbatory nods but nothing of the Pathfinder’s underdog, blighted yet honestly amiable demeanour. Palmer’s masterpiece is, to these eyes, peerless.

Notable Pathfinder owners include Colin Grainger, The Singing Winger. A Yorkshireman football player who had a parallel career as a successful singer bought himself one of Riley’s finest for £400 in 1956. This after scoring for England against Brazil alongside lucrative offers from stateside groups for his lyrical charms. He stayed home and adored the “lovely leather luxury in a lovely car.

Taking a darker route, in 1962, right-wing politician, Sir Oswald Mosley took his son Max (later to become FIA President) on a European tour, chauffeured in a grey Pathfinder; a tale which is certainly not for the faint of heart.

Two TV shows have used the RMH: Dangerous Knowledge and The Chief. Dangerous Knowledge was aired in the U.K. back in 1976. From the moment the opening titles roll, there she gleams. For its time, the show was probably cutting edge, naturally dated now but along with hard drinking main man John Gregson, love interests and a trip over to France to deal with the bad-guys, the car is most definitely the star: silver roofed over maroon bodywork.


Twenty years old even, then, she is a delight to behold. It is believed that the Pathfinder in question was Gregson’s own. He had only learnt to drive when he landed the role of Alan McKim in Genevieve (1953) and died shortly after filming Dangerous Knowledge.

Another UK TV series in the 1990s, was The Chief; another crime procedural concerning the life of a chief constable in a fictional region. His chauffeured ride being a naturally black-bodied Twonarf. At the time, my interests in police shows demanded action as opposed to stuffy, office based politics. And I had no idea of what a Riley Pathfinder was back then. Head hung in shame…

This link to British Pathe News, shows three BMC creations, including a Pathfinder being wellied around France, but this time for speed trials at the Monthelrey track in appalling conditions. Expect full, plum in the mouth commentary.

(c) classiccargarage

To conclude, I can only humbly thank the Pathfinder protagonists that have helped me on my own RMH journey: Dave Rowlands, whom without, my knowledge, passion and understanding would be non-existent, Terry and Pam Metson and Jezebel their 1955 variant, Gerald Palmer for creating the exceptional design and Danny Hopkins, editor of Practical Classics for rescuing and restoring one suffering soul, Katie – source of a future Pathfinder episode.

Author: Andrew Miles

Beyond hope there lie dreams; after those, custard creams?

46 thoughts on “From A Bench Front Seat (Part Two)”

  1. Absolutely, a great story, well told, thank you Andrew. Is it just me, or is there a lot of similarity to the contemporary Lancia Aurelia saloon in those lovely smooth flanks?

    1. I’m sure you’re right, Daniel. Mr Palmer’s designs were certainly not derivative, but they all exhibit signs of influence from elsewhere – in a good way. The Javelin from the US and the Magnette and subsequent Nuffield models from Italy. Makes me wonder about his work at Vauxhall…..

    2. Yes, and much as I love many Rileys, I’ll take the Aurelia every time, suicide rear doors and all. It wasn’t hamstrung by beancounters the way the Pathfinder was.
      The Armstrong was also an interesting car.
      The big Alfa was a bit of a lorry, although I nearly bought one as they were cheap in the 1980s.

    3. For a moment, upon seeing the main photo on the DTW front page just now, I thought it was an Aurelia.

      Splendid articles on a fascinating car.

  2. So RMJ was the codename for the improved Pathfinder that was to be the recipient of Gerald Palmer’s unbuilt C-Series Twin-Cam engine?

    Would have been interesting to extrapolate the approximate figures Gerald Palmer was targeting for the C-Series Twin-Cam in the RMJ, obviously it would have to match or exceed the existing 110 hp Riley Pathfinder as well as the 120 hp Armstrong-Siddeley Sapphire 234 and 112 hp (net) Jaguar Mk1 2.4. The later 130 hp Alfa Romeo 2600 Berlina is another that immediately springs to mind, since Palmer looked to the Alfa Romeo Twin-Cam when developing the B-Series Twin-Cam prior to being forced to leave BMC before the engine was fully developed (even though the 2600 engine was different from the smaller Giulietta Twin-Cam engine).

    Though would harassed a conservative speculative guess and say a 2.6 C-Series Twin-Cam would roughly be closer to the 117 hp 2.6 Austin-Healey 100-6 and later 125 hp 2.9 Austin 3-litre, if not a shade above the 110-120 hp 2.9 in the Austin Westminster A110 and Wolseley 6/110 (with an uprated 2.6 C-Series Twin-Cam for the Big Healey likely matching the 136-150 hp 2.9 Austin-Healey 3000).

  3. Thank you for this lovely account of the Riley Pathfinder, Andrew. Love the personal touch!
    As for the Lancia Aurelia showing some likeness to the Pathfinder: yes, a bit. I think the 1946 Kaiser had a significant influence on the Pathfinder’s styling (and also the Fiat 1400, Borgward Hansa and Skoda 1200). And it is interesting to detect echoes of the Pathfinder in the 1993 Lagonda Vignale concept car:

    1. Brruno: well spotted. I liked the Lagonda at the time. Now I look at it again, the boot is a bit odd and off. And the area there roof blends into the C-pillar also seems amiss. The Pathfinder looks just great though and I am usually unable to feel much about cars from this period. The Riley looks very British without relying on the usual tropes. What a pity its life was so brief.

    2. It’s interesting how received wisdom can cloud one’s judgement. For years, I recall reading nothing positive about the Pathfinder, or indeed its Nuffield equivalent. Most likely coloured by a stinging dismissal by someone like Michael Sedgewick in the classic car magazines I used to devour as a callow youth. (I was a tad unconventional by contemporary Cork standards…)

      Yet, what we see here is a fine car, victim to that maddeningly timeworn British malaise. Even the styling (designer unattributed, no doubt) would give some of Billy Lyons’ efforts a decent run for their money. In a putative ranking of the most DTW cars, (now there’s a thought) the RMH must rank, oh at least in the foothills of the top ten…

    1. It’s likely the police got a lot more experience overcoming the Pathfinder’s devils than the average owner-driver would have done.

    2. Charles, that’s a fantastic site. The constabulary didn’t stint themselves when it came to transport, did they?

    3. Thanks, Vic.

      Yes, that thought occurred to me, too, but I guess they’d need powerful, roomy cars and as they’d be spending many hours in them, it makes sense for them to be comfortable. I would expect that manufacturers would give a discount, too, as police vehicles must have some PR value.

  4. Good evening one and all. The Pathfinder is a car that gets under the skin in ways few others can. And whilst I agree there is to my eyes some Lancia Aurelia in the design and, by George I’d love to have the opportunity to sample one of those, this car is the embodiment of the plucky Brit. If the Pathfinder had been in the Mercedes or BMW’s stable, how the world would fawn up Gerald Palmer’s design. Sadly it’s practically forgotten – until now!

    I have a scale model sat above my work desk which generates passing interest every blue moon.

    Excellent police files there, Charles, jolly well found.

    More Pathfinder related tales coming soon!

  5. I recall reading a description of the Palmer-designed MG, Riley, and Wolseley saloons as “BMC’s Jaguars”. Given the timescale, I suspect the description was retrospective, but it is apposite. If the twin-cam B and C series engines had gone into series production, and proper resources committed to de-bugging and development, the Magnette / 4/44 and Pathfinder / 6/90 could have been developed into the sort of coherent premium range the Germans took until the early 1980s to achieve.

    The Pathfinder and 6/90 were starved of development, but my greater regret is that the Magnette and Wolseley 4/44+ 15/50 were never given the resources to compete with the great mid-fifties European mid-size trio of Peugeot 403, Borgward Isabella, and Volvo Amazon.

    I’ve said before that Len Lord seems to have had an aversion to the Nuffield brands -Wolseley, Riley, and MG, and never gave them the investment they deserved. I don’t subscribe to the notion that Lord was the universal agent of evil at BMC, and planted the seeds of the company’s downfall. Rather he concentrated on the mass-market, and chose – post-Palmer – to preserve the legacy brands as an upmarket veneer on Austins and Morrises.

    Gerald Palmer was meticulous about differentiation of the brands, with careful attention to ‘stance’ and body panel and trim variations to make the Wolseleys appear more upright and imposing, while the MG and Riley had a sleeker presentation. Likewise engines were not shared, frustrating Lord’s plan to rationalise the entire product line around the A, B, and C series engines.

    All other things being sorted – and they never were – the C series would have been a better engine for the Pathfinder than the ultra-undersquare twin-cam Riley four. The Morris-designed six’s strong suits were simplicity and bulletproof integrity, but even in the Austin 3 Litre and MGC era BMC never made it powerful and efficient enough, although Daniel Richmond at Downton managed both.

    I think that modern-day Riley enthusiasts have made their peace with the Two Point Six, more of a reverse-engineered 6/90 than a C series powered Pathfinder, but in its day it was seen as the beginning of the end for the marque.

    In the life of the Palmer cars there were other ‘rationalisations’, such as the 6/90’s adoption of the Pathfinder’s gearchange, and the 1250cc MG-powered Wolseley 4/44’s reincarnation as the B-series powered 15/50.

    1. ” the beginning of the end for the marque. ”
      Only if you ignore the 1.5’s run from ’57 to ’65.
      Yes, it was a Wolseley 1500, but the engine was an MGA’s, and tuneable in the same way.
      I’ll pass over the Mini-based booted Imp, even though it’s two-tone offering was often pretty.

  6. Vic – Imp? I take it you mean the Eleven? (one for viewers in Germany…)

    The One Point Five was so close to being an English Giulietta.

    And let us not forget that the Morris Minor-based Wolseley and Riley were the best-selling cars ever sold under their respective brands – 103,394 and 39,568 respectively.

    1. Agree with the Riley One Point Five being close to an English Alfa Romeo Giulietta, at the same apart from roughly similar power outputs would say compared to the Riley Pathfinder the Alfa Romeo 1900 was actually closer in size to the MG Magnette ZA/ZB (the Jaguar MK1 being the closest to the Riley Pathfinder in terms of size).

      It seems there was some idea for fitting a C-Series 6-cylinder into the smaller B-Series 4-cylinder powered MG Magnette to take on Jaguar, yet it would have probably been more appropriate for the car to be equipped with a 1762cc+ version of the B-Series Twin-Cam or a 4-cylinder version of the C-Series 6-cylinder (either with or without Twin-Cam). –

      That would have made things a bit more coherent where the Riley One Point Five features the 1.6 B-Series Twin-Cam, the MG Magnette ZA/ZB (or a Riley variant under the RMG name) features a 1762cc+ B-Series Twin-Cam or 4-cylinder version of the 2.6-2.9 C-Series 6-cylinder, with the Riley Pathfinder (RMH plus non-production RMJ) featuring a C-Series Twin-Cam.

      What has not been considered though would be the fact the B-Series “Blue Streak” 6-cylinder was said to have been significantly lighter than the C-Series.

    2. Don’t think it’s a good idea to protect the uniqueness of Riley and Wolseleys, BMC has no resources to compete in both mass and Premium markets
      The only way to keep thees two brands is to make them become Austin’s and Morris’s Ghia , early as possible

    3. The booted Mini was the Riley Elf/Wolseley Hornet – and widely considered at the time to be a joke in very poor taste!

  7. There were many flaws with the Hornet/Elf though chief among them IMHO was the lack of a 4-door model by way of a 84-inch wheelbase to at least try to differentiate it from the regular Mini.

    One area where Riley One Point Five falls short in on being an English Alfa Romeo Giulietta would be the lack of 2-door coupe and 2-door spider variants, apparently there were a few attempts by Nuffield later BMC to develop sportscars derived from platform or running gear of the Morris Minor (and derivatives) though they ultimately lost out to what became Austin-Healey Sprite-derived Midget. Still could there have been a way to further increase component sharing between the Riley One Point Five and the MGA or even have the latter underpinned by some modified platform from the former?

    1. The biggest flaw was they should not exist.Elf/Hornet developed to meet the needs of dealers.
      It maybe make sense to keep the independent Austin and Morris dealer network, but it certainly does not to keep five,

    2. There was some slight value in the booted saloon itself with a Mini front exterior as an additional bodystyle provided it was both better styled as well as available as a 4-door to appeal to more conservative buyers (had the regular Mini itself been available as a hatchback or featured a Minki I prototype-like split-tailgate at minimum), not so much the Riley/Wolseley brands themselves.

    3. There’re big different thing between 3-box Austin / Morris mini and ELF / Hornet . The price of ELF / Hornet are higher than Morris/Austin1100.
      4door A/M mini would replace Minor,which has enough differences between Mini and ADO 16,Compared with the 4door Mini,I think a better way was a Farina monior and a more expensive 2door Mini at the A35price

    4. The OTL mini was about £50 cheaper than A35、£100 cheaper than Anglia and Minor、£150 cheaper than A40 Farina ,which means if use a Farina Minor(both A/M),there would be enough space collect excess £50 for mini,which would ensure mini profitability

    5. In addition, I’m not saying that Riley / Wolseley should be given up. There’s no reason to give up them before BMC get Jaguar or Rover, but they should be sold in the same dealer with Austin / Morris

    6. Had the research department been properly used at BMC instead of neglected or put in pointless tasks (they reckoned £20 could have easily been taken out of the production cost of the Mini – even prior to the additional cost of the hydrolastic Minis which could be butterflied away), it is possible the original Mini would have had the improved costing of ADO20 / Mk3 (which IIRC was about £30).

      Also understand additional cost was spent to jazz up the Mini over the de-chromed 1958 Mini prototype with Minivan grille, which combined with £30 or so reduction in production cost (plus further reduction by butterflying away the hydrolastic Minis) and slight increase in price compared to the original Minis mean the potential was there to improve the profitability of the Mini without loss of sales.

      With a detachable Minivan grille or a de-chromed version of the black grille found on the pre-Bertone Innocenti Mini Cooper and the mk4-mk5 Minis as well as a 30 hp 750-803cc engine, it would be possible for a costed de-chromed entry-level Mini to make some profit from the original Mini 850 price of £496.95 (with the cost of the alternate Mini 850 in turn being increased from £496.95 to about £527-550 perhaps even £517-540 and so on).

      Do like the idea of a Minor Farina though not fan of the A40 Farina’s styling.

      Seems such a waste the Riley One Point Five (plus Wolseley 1500 – ideally with exterior styling by Gerald Palmer instead of Dick Burzi), MG Magnette ZA/ZB (plus Wolseley 4/44 and Wolseley 15/50) as well as the Riley Pathfinder / Two Point SIx (plus Wolseley 6/90) were not sold under one marque to create a coherent range.

      What specific marque all three would be under is another issue, some lean towards Riley others MG and a few Wolseley. Yet the post-war popularity of the MG T-Type give an idea where to go in terms of sales and failing that (in the event BMC opt for Riley or Wolseley), there should have at least been a way to further commonize an alternate MGA with either the Riley One Point Five or Magnette ZA.

    7. For the original Mini, I hope it will become the A35 successor instead of a brand new market.
      In fact, mini have the same car width and wheelbase as A35,and it’s no doubt that the interior space will be much larger.
      BMC does not need to compete with Ford for the lowest price especially the 100E popular will stop production in 1961.

  8. The problem is that BMC don’t have the resources to build a ndependent premium brand. When VW tried to do that, they produced nearly 2 million a year, five times to the 1950s BMC, and didn’t have to use two mass brand.
    On the other hand, thanks to hindsight, we know that sooner or later BMC would get Rover or Jaguar. An mid-brand is just waste.
    BMC produces such decentralized cars in OTL because they have five dealer networks to maintain. My idea is to merge them into two, Wolseley/ MG in Morris and Riley / Healy in Austin. In this way, Wolseley and Riley will become earlier Ghia, which is more valuable than independent Premium Brand

    1. If earlier pod is allowed, I think BMC should be established in 1949 instead of 1952
      As was the case when BL was founded, Asutin made a huge investment in the new models and engines, which caused a lot of trouble in rationalization
      If the merger was completed in 1949, there would be no A30, but a Austin version minor
      Also no uncorrelated Somerset, Cambridge, Westminster, Magnette, Pathfinder
      The original A-Series will be about 1.0L instead of 804cc (the minor is much heavier than A30),and the original B-series will be 1.5L instead of 1.2L (about 1,5 times of A-Series), which will make the two engines more expandable
      By 1954, the scope of BMC will consist of three platforms and three new engines(doesn’t include the sportscar、Limousine and Taxi)
      Acar,using 948cc A-Series engine
      Bcar, using 1498ccb series engine
      Ccar, using 2.6L c-series engine
      This will greatly improve productivity,and give Minor a chance to challenge the beetle

    2. What would be the earliest BMC both in OTL and ATL could have switched over from transfer machinery to modern production lines and tooling for their A-Series, B-Series and C-Series engines?

      Since some appear to be of the opinion that many of the non-productionized suggestions, experiments and various updates put forward by engineers and others in the research / developmental department (including outside tuners and engineers) in OTL for the A-Series, B-Series and C-Series, while sound in every respect ultimately never saw the light of day due to being unable to be produced on the existing transfer machinery (with management to their peril being unwilling to spend the cash needed to update and modernize the production line).

      Had the A-Series for example been produced with a modern production line and tooling earlier on, it would have opened up more development options for a linear evolution including weight reduction as well as a feasible maximum displacement of around 1372-1380cc via around 71.5mm bore x 86mm stroke compared to the OTL 1275cc limit achieved with transfer machinery (after much struggle).

      A 72mm bore x 86mm stroke would be the absolute limit, however that bore size and taking in to account a conservative production approach it wouldn’t be re-boreable hence it being paired back to 71.5mm (though other views suggest the limit where it was no longer re-boreable is around 72.5-73.5mm – the 1330cc engine in the Mini Remastered for example has a 72.19mm bore yet would probably stick with the conservative 71.5mm bore till others can offer further clarification). The above developments would also aid the B-Series with an early growth to 2-litres and more, along with further development of the C-Series.

      While falling short of my preference for a production version of the larger 1480-1596cc A-Series engines mentioned in David Vizard’s A-Series book (even though the latter were not a significant improvement over the 1372-1380cc engines – also known as the 1400), an ATL 1372-1380c A-Series (as commonly found in various present day modified Minis and others with decent reliability plus a number of 1430cc variants or about 1428cc to be specific IIRC) would have still been very useful for BMC and allowed the company to maintain a presence in the critical 1400-1500cc segment they missed out on in OTL (along with a 1.5 version of the B-Series where it’s and the C-Series units OTL bulk and weight issues are largely remedied thanks to earlier modern production lines and machinery).

      Read the existing A-Series despite its lack of proper development was still capable of remaining in production if needed be until 2004 by potentially being Euro 3 compliment, the same was also apparently the case with the B-Series unit’s distantly related T-Series engine being Euro 3 compliant (though BMW in OTL were unwilling to fund that proposal).

      It is fascinating in light of the internal division at OTL BL between those who wanted to keep the old engines in production for as long as possible on parsimonious grounds against those who wanted to develop all-new engines (despite not having enough money available), with those who wanted new engines that were still a linear evolution of the existing engines or those who wanted a cheaper more cost effective solution of updating the existing engines being caught in the middle (with the latter only belated implemented in even more compromised form).

    3. In this ATL,I plan to use a 86*86 equal stroke engine B-sereis inspired E-series L4/L6 replace Series B and Series C in 1966,with the launch of ATL Ado17.
      A finite improved A-plus(wihtout update tools) in 1970 with the Second generation mini(Supermini)and a clean OHC engine in 1980
      The cost of replacing tools will not be much lower than developing a brand new engine.If replace A series in the late 1960s,you’ll definitely get the DX Engine ,it was the time Issigonis had greatest influence.
      So I killed 9x through the crisis after 1966 and used the evolutionary supermini(Using the mechanical setting of mini, but larger, with 88 inch wheelbase)

  9. A lot of misunderstandings here about what loyalties buyers had straight after the war, based on prewar experiences.
    Also, twin-cam engines cost a lot to produce, and would move any recipients up several price points.
    The XPAG engine in a bulky saloon was ridiculous, but the B-series was a heavy lump, and in original 1200cc form pretty useless.

    The Beetle was made to quite difference standards: it was so airtight you had to lower a window to close a door. Buyers expected them to last, which they did.

    Austin had always been the technically adventurous one of the pair, leaving Morris to catch up later, if it did. (There would never be an Atlantic.)

    Sports cars were designed with the US market in mind: they wouldn’t buy a warmed-over saloon if there was an out-and-out sports car available — the US being in a boom, unlike Britain. Hence the Spridgets, XKs and TRs.

    1. I have to clear that when I say “challenge the beetle”, it doesn’t mean trying to replace it.
      I just means give more competition to the beetle

    2. The development of the A30 began in 1949, when the merger failed
      Without A30,the could use the development resources of A30, Magnet and Somerset to develop a medium-sized car
      Use the resources of Cambridge, Westminster, Pathfinder to develop a large car
      Even if they can’t be better than OTL, at least could simplify production and reduce costs

  10. Such a wonderful thing, hindsight…… I still think the Pathfinder was a beautiful car!

  11. Feet up in front of the fire last night with a small glass of something Scottish but nothing decent on the telly, I eventually found a ‘recorded just in case there’s nothing better’ episode of Miss Marple (as played by Joan Hickson): ‘The Mirror Cracked…’
    A goodly selection of ’50s motors (including a Jowett Bradford) with the Police making good use of one of Mr Palmer’s Wolseley 6/90s. And then – oh joy! Another Police car in the fine form of a very healthy looking and sounding Riley Pathfinder! In one scene they appear together; having made a quick note of registrations I find that the DVLA has the Wolseley recorded as untaxed since 2002 and not, as it should therefore be, on SORN. The Riley is unknown (was TTT 711 invented by the film unit?) – so, Mr Miles, have you got a black Pathfinder secreted somewhere about your person?

  12. Sadly not, JTC though your information will now be used for deeper research. Jolly well spotted!
    Can you elude as to which brand of Scottish drink you enjoyed? I hope to indulge in matters similar, later

    1. It was a Tamnavulin – but I’ve got my eye on a Glencadam for this evening…

  13. Right, it’s taken a little longer than planned but I have some information on this particular Pathfinder.

    The Miss Marple car is a 1955 model that has only had three owners, one of them twice! The original owner had the car for 21 years. He ran a garage and only sold it when he retired. This fellow was a keen Alsatian dog owner; keen enough to have an Alsatian metal mascot on the bonnet.

    The next owner had it some ten years before being offered a decent amount of cash by a chap who had heard of a Pathfinder in the area. The car wasn’t officially up for sale. The buyer mentioned the car would be used in an upcoming project. When owner number two saw Miss Marple’s Crack’d Mirror, he pined for the Pathfinder so much he bought it back from the film company! But would never reveal what he paid, nor what he sold it for in the first place. Still with owner No.2, apparently all the car has needed over time are new tyres, a stainless steel exhaust and some treatment for the upholstery. He also fitted a servo from an 1800 Austin and got it “working perfectly.” TTT 771 remains garaged and cosseted but rarely venturing out, sadly.

    Google doesn’t know everything; but car club members with good, long memories (and exceptional filing systems) and tendrils to latch onto this kind of stuff, can find out. It’s a big part of the appeal for myself.

    As to the whiskeys mentioned, I’m not au fait with the names but as long as they’re enjoyed, why the devil not? I have a drop or two of the Co-op’s own 12 year single malt for later – don’t knock it. For £25 it’s very nice indeed. Worth toasting to the RMH along with Gerald Palmer, any day.

    1. Well done, young Miles! A splendid tale and your investigative skills do you great credit; they most certainly earn you a celebratory dram. And there is nothing wrong with the Co-op’s own, they have a very good buyer – you’ll find a Tamnavulin on offer there from time to time too (it’s where mine came from; I recommend you treat yourself. Sadly I won’t be joining you this evening for that toast – we discovered a bottle of coffee liqueur with half an inch left in it lurking in a corner of the kitchen today and rather than tip it down the sink (it was very old) have poured it on some vanilla ice cream instead. As it followed the glass of white that went with the fish pie, a whisky might seem a little excessive…. But I shall certainly toast the splendid RMH (and other Gerald Palmer creations) tomorrow evening. Sláinte!

  14. We could wait until 20 January, the 11oth anniversary of GP’s birth.

    If there’s anything left in the bottle, there are three worthwhile celebrations in November 2021:

    15 November – Len Lord (125)
    17 November – Soichiro Honda (115)
    18 November – Greek Al (115)

  15. Sounds like a plan – the dates are in my diary, along with 17th June – William Jowett (140).

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