The Reliant Robin was first introduced
in November 1973, however today it is best remembered
as Del Boys car from the hit series "Only Fools and Horses".
The Robin was designed by Ogle Design Ltd, who empowered
the vehicle with a water cooled four-cylinder 750cc
engine that giving 32 bhp.
The body was constructed almost entirely from glass-fibre,
which was then attached to a box steel chassis. Interestingly,
the Robin was one of the first cars to feature a rear
opening window, the "hatchback" trend soon to be adopted
by car manufacturers all over the globe.
And while a three-wheel layout will never be as stable
as a traditional car's, the Robin was not as precarious
as many thought, as the driver and passenger were seated
well back in the vehicle helping to bias the centre of
gravity towards the rear driving wheels.
Purchasers could choose from 4 different models, including
the "Standard", "Super", "Estate" and "Van". The "Super"
was fitted with a more extensive instrument cluster,
but otherwise remained almost entirely unchanged from
the standard. In 1975
the Robin had its first makeover.
While changes to the body work were only minor and
cosmetic, importantly the engine size was upped to
850cc, SU carbies replaced the older style Zenith units,
and the engine now boasted a more healthy 40 bhp.
The Reliant Robin became the UK's most famous 3 wheeler,
arguably better known today than the Heinkel Kabine and
Messerschmitt Bubble Cars. And like the new Volkswagen
Beetle and Mini, the humble Robin was to make a comeback.
, a much more modern looking Robin was revealed
to the public.
The new fiberglass body was attached to a galvanised
chassis, and the Robin now featured a single central
windscreen wiper. The pick of the new look Robins was
undoubtedly the "Commemorative" edition - released
in 1998 as the company closed their Tamworth plant.
In 1999 a new Reliant Robin Hatchback was launched,
featuring a complete new front end with tear drop style
headlamps, new doors and a new tail gate. Naturally
the Robin was still powered by the aluminum 850cc
engine, however the creature comforts of the car were
increased to include carpet, a radio cassette, chrome
door handles, stainless steel exhaust, fog lights and
The makeover also saw the replacement of the hatchback
door with a new "swing" door, and the use of rather
more attractive lights borrowed from the Vauxhall Corsa.
And most importantly the cars rigidity had been vastly
improved, thanks largely to the refinement in production
techniques that Reliant borrowed from the boating industry.
Production of the Robin was finally to come to an end
in 2001, with some 65 special edition cars being manufactured
to celebrate the passing of the car. Dubbed the "65" (which
we think was rather unimaginative), the special model
featured leather trim, a walnut dashboard, fog lamps,
alloy wheels, stainless steel exhaust and has a numbered
plaque attached to the centre of the dash.
The last Reliant Robin was collected by its owner on
February 14th 2001 and was a first prize in a competition
run by the Sun Newspaper Lazarus was to return for
another year however, when B & N Plastics began making
the Robin under licence from April 2001. Known as the
BN-1, the car retained the features of the 65, but
was now afforded a re-engineered gearbox and axle,
new dashboard and interior. Production finally came
to a halt in 2002.
Many did not lament the Robins passing, remembering the
confined cabin, primitive dash and ventilation system,
low rear seats and wheel lift.