Britain By Car - A Motoring History

Riley Garage

A garage business established by Donald Healey on his return as a pilot in the First World War.

Location
St Pirans Road, Perranporth, Cornwall TR6 0BJ

Today the Riley Garage stands on the corner of St Pirans Road, Wheal Leisure, and Station Road; however, it is not clear whether this is the site where Donald Healey originally worked; this may be further down the street.  (Clarification would be welcome!)

Date
1919 – c1933, although the Riley Garage is still trading in Perranporth.

Other locations 
Mawan Smith, Cornwall
Penhallow, Cornwall
Warwick, Warwickshire

Commentary
A member of the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War, Donald Healey returned to his home town of Perranporth after the War, where he set up a garage next door to his parent’s shop.

As well as the normal garage service, Donald Healey offered cars for hire and coach tours.  He also established the Perraphone Radio Company, manufacturing early wireless sets.

It was around this time that Donald Healey also began to take part in local motor rally events; and was a founding member of the local Truro and District Motor Club.  Success in competitions followed, and he built up a strong reputation in rallying circles driving MGs, Rileys and Triumphs.

In 1929, Donald Healey entered his first major international rally - the Monte Carlo Rally – driving a Triumph Super Seven, with its small 832cc engine; but he failed to qualify.  A year later, he tried again in the same car with more success; he came seventh. 

For the 1931 Rally, Donald Healey obtained a works’ drive in a 4½ litre Invicta.   He started the Rally in Stavanger in Norway, and despite an accident in Sweden and brake failure en route, managed not only to finish the Rally, but to win the event – and a prize of £400.

(A reference in an article in the Independent on Sunday, 6th September 1998 refers to Donald Healey also driving the Invicta in the 1930 Alpine Rally, with James Bond author, Ian Fleming, as navigator.)

After the success of 1931, entries in Monte over the next three years were less successful, (although a second place was achieved in 1932).  In 1933, Donald Healey moved to Warwickshire to join Riley and later, Triumph.

Further details 
• Austin Healey – The story of the Big Healeys, Geoffrey Healey, Wilton House Gentry, 1977.
• Austin-Healey, Graham Robson, Shire Library, 2010.
• The Independent on Sunday, 6th September 1998.