The Reliant Regal was a small three-wheeled car manufactured from 1953 until 1973 by the Reliant Motor Company in Tamworth, England. As it was a three-wheeler, and it was fairly lightweight, the vehicle could be driven on a motorcycle licence in the United Kingdom. A light-commercial version with a side-hinged rear door was marketed as the Reliant Supervan
There were many forms of Reliant Regal from the Mk I in 1953 followed by the Mk II, Mk III, Mk IV, Mk V, Mk VI. The Mk VII was code named the TW7 (Three Wheeler 7) and badged as the 3/25 and 3/30 according to engine size. A 21E version was available offering 21 extras, otherwise available as optional extras, including spot light, fog light, over riders and metallic paint. In 1973, the Regal was replaced by the less successful Reliant Robin (TW8).
The early Regals had aluminium bodies and 747cc side-valve engines though during the 1950s the price of aluminium increased markedly across Europe. Reliant developed an expertise in making panels of glass fibre which piece by piece replaced the aluminium panels until the 1956 Mark 3 Regal featured a glass fibre body. Unlike Panhard, who responded to the increased cost of aluminium by substituting steel panels, Reliant's choice of the glass fibre technology ensured that the Regal was able to retain its advantageous light weight, with the resulting ability to use an inexpensive and economical, albeit low powered, engines. The Regal Mk VI was the last Regal to be powered by a side-valve engine as by 1962 Reliant had developed their own all aluminium 600cc OHV engine that was fitted into the new Regal 3/25.
The Regal 3/25 version was introduced in October 1962 and unlike previous Regals, this no longer had a wooden frame and instead had a unitary construction body of reinforced fibreglass. Fibreglass was moulded in two major units (outer and inner) and then bonded together and bolted to a steel chassis. Meanwhile, on 25 April 1968, a year before BMC celebrated their 2,000,000th Mini Reliant sales director T.H.Scott personally drove the 50,000th Regal 3/25 off the assembly line at Reliant's Tamworth plant.
A few months later, in August 1968, it was reported that the 701 cc engine which had been introduced in the Reliant Rebel the previous Autumn had found its way into the Regal. In the three wheeler application the compression ratio was lowered to 7.5:1 which will have reduced the power output – in this application to a claimed 29.5 bhp. Nevertheless, this still represented a useful increase over the 26 bhp claimed for the 600 cc Regal which this version replaced.
Exposure in popular culture
Reliant Regals and Robins enjoy something of a special place in British culture as symbols of British eccentricity. An example of a Reliant is the iconic van belonging to Del Boy and Rodney Trotter in the long-running BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. The van is frequently, and incorrectly, referred to as a Robin, but is actually a Regal Supervan. The Trotters' original van is now on display in the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, while one of two 'back-up' vans was sold in 2007 for over £44,000 to British boxer Ricky Hatton.
In another TV comedy, Mr. Bean, the titular character frequently comes into conflict with a light blue Reliant Regal Supervan III, which gets tipped over, crashed into, or bumped out of its parking space. One of the vehicles used in the Mr. Bean series was destroyed after a stunt.
A red Supervan appeared in the S4C Welsh language children's programme "Fan Goch".
The 2011 Disney film Cars 2 features a French character named Tomber who is patterned on a Reliant Regal saloon car, with some creative modifications. His name means "to fall" in French, referencing the reputed instability of three-wheel vehicles.
List known surving ecamples below;
- ? - Seen at ? event
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- "The Reliant 5cwt Supervan III". Oldclassiccar.co.uk. Retrieved on 27 June 2010.
- "Robin's rest", CAR: pages 106–108. December 2000.
- "News and Views: A Reliant Milestone", Autocar 128 (nbr3768): 29. 2 May 1968.
- "News and Views: Larger engines for Reliant Three-Wheelers", Autocar 129 nbr 3785: 54. 29 August 1968.
- "UK | England | London | Del Boy's Reliant makes a killing". BBC News (27 February 2007). Retrieved on 27 June 2010.
- "Cer i Greu". S4c.co.uk. Retrieved on 27 June 2010.
- "Tomber". disney.go.com. Retrieved on 2 June 2011.
- Photographs and data on various Reliant Regal versions
- Reliant Regal Supervan III restoration project
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