Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 20th November 2017

Bond Bug. It looked like a giant go-kart and was designed to be a fun car. Its striking appearance gave it a place in popular culture, with designer Tom Karen using a Bond Bug chassis to create Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder in Star Wars.

Creation

Bond Cars Ltd were bought out by the Reliant Motor Company in 1970 and the company commissioned Tom Karen to create an exciting new car. Chief Engineer John Crosthwaite designed a special chassis and it was combined with Reliant Regal components. The original concept was based on a stripped down Regal vehicle.

Moving forward, the Bond Bug was fitted with a front-mounted 700 cc Reliant engine developed from the Austin 7. The only non-Regal part was the coil spring suspension at the rear of the car. The Bug had a fibreglass body, wedge shape, lift-up canopy and side screens instead of regular doors. It could reach a top speed of 76 mph. The most famous colour for the Bug was bright orange, though a few white Bugs were produced as well.

Different versions

The car proved to be popular and a Corgi Toys version was crafted. Marketed as being fun to drive, the Bug made the most of its unusual appearance. It was a lot faster than people expected it to be. For example, a high-performance vehicle like the Lotus Seven could also reach a speed of 76 mph.

Three versions of the Bug existed: the 700, 700E and 700ES. The 700 was the standard model, while the 700E and 700ES were deluxe. The 700E came with a telescopic canopy damper and heater, while the 700ES was powered by a higher compression engine.

The Bug cost £629, but it wasn’t any cheaper than a practical car like the 850 cc Mini, which cost £620. A knock-down kit version was available for a cheaper price, partially due to tax treatment.

The Bug only had a short run of four years, lasting from 1970 to 1974. However, it still has a dedicated following.