With  demand  for their Mini already braking records BMC  wanted an even larger share of the compact car market. They chose the UK Motor Show in 1961 to launch the Mark I version of the Riley Elf and its almost identical stablemate, the Wolseley Hornet.

The Riley Elf was distinguished from the standard Mini by an extended boot with tiny tail fins and the traditional vertical Riley radiator grille grafted onto the restyled nose/body.
The new Elf, which was powered by BMC’s standard 848-cc transverse engine, was the most expensive and luxurious Mini variant on the market at the time, offering the potential buyer high-quality upholstery in a mixture of leather substitute and soft pile cloth.

Other details included gloveboxes on either side of the central instrument display, as well as a chrome-plated gear lever and eminently practical city transportation.

Additional advantages over the BMC Mini included more storage space, improved soundproofing, and a higher-end specification.

All of these features combined to provide opulent motoring comfort in a small package, helping to justify the higher price tag.

Although it was classed as a compact, the feedback that BMC got from buyers was that the comfort levels, while much improved on the Mini, still left some room from improvement. 

In response to negative  public and trade feedback the Elf's specification levels continued to improve over the next two years, and even more in autumn of 1963,  with the launch of the  Mk II, fitted with a 998cc engine that provided a little more speed and power.

Riley launched their Mk III version of the Elf in October 1966, at the height of Mini Mania, five years after the model first appeared on the scene.

All of the updates on the Mk III were primarily cosmetic, including eyeball" ventilation in the fascia and a remote-control gearchange as used on standard " Minis."

The Mark III Elf had evolved into, without a doubt, the ultimate version of the compact, having been significantly revised and cleaned-up.

External door hinges were replaced with concealed ones, along with standard push-button door handles and winding windows, reshaped door panniers, fresh-air ventilation, and a remote gear-change.

AP automatic transmission was optional beginning in late 1967, and the all-synchromesh manual gearbox was standard beginning in mid-1968.

The driving character of the Elf was similar to that of the Mini, but those who spent the extra money on one got a good deal- a more luxurious car that was low-key yet surprisingly powerful, quieter, roomier, and with a more salubrious in-cabin environment.

As the momentous years of the Sixties were ending, BMC saw the writing on the wall for brands such as Riley and called a halt on production of the Elf. During its close to ten-year production run, just over thirty thousand Elves were sold.

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