Britain has had its fair share of memorable cars, and one that holds a special place in popular culture is the Reliant Robin. Hailed as as a symbol of British eccentricity, the Robin was the successor of the Regal, which became immortalised by the likes of Only Fools and Horses. The Robin has a colourful history, and we’re looking into how it was made.
The Reliant Regal had been successful, so the Reliant Motor Company decided to improve on it. The first Robin was produced in 1973 and came with a water-cooled four-cylinder 750 cc engine and fibreglass body attached to a box steel chassis. It also had a rear opening window that made the interior more spacious.
In 1975, the Robin was upgraded to feature a 850 cc engine that allowed the car to reach a top speed of 85 mph. The Robin went on to become one of the most famous three-wheeled vehicles in the UK, eventually being replaced by the Reliant Rialto in 1981.
However, this wasn’t the end of the Robin, as it made a return in 1989. The Mark II had a new fibreglass body that was attached to a galvanised chassis. The water-cooled aluminium 850 cc engine ensured the Mark II performed well and didn’t sacrifice fuel economy. The new Robin came in metallic silver, royal blue, British racing green and nightfire red.
In 1999, the Mark III was introduced. Created by chief engineer Andy Plumb, the new version came with Vauxhall Corsa headlights and became the first Robin to be designed by a computer.
The Robin had certain driving requirements because of its status as a three-wheeled vehicle. Traditionally, it could be driven by people who had a B1 category driving licence. The Robin was also taxed at motorbike rates. Up until 2001, the B1 licence was given to anyone who passed the category A motorbike test, which led to some people believing they could drive a Robin with a motorbike licence. Anyone who passed their motorbike test after 2001 couldn’t drive a Robin, but this was changed in 2012.
There’s no doubt that the Robin is an iconic British car. Do you own one? We’d love to see pictures and you can post them on our Inside Classics Facebook page.