Reliant Cars Ltd was founded in year 1935 by T L Williams to produce three-wheeler vans. The company specialises in manufacturing composite-bodied vehicles like Reliant Sabre, Reliant Scimitar and three-wheeled Reliant Regal, Reliant Robin and Reliant Rialto cars.
The company had been based out of Staffordshire in England. However, shortly after moving to Cannock, Reliant stopped manufacturing cars.
What’s in a name? Well, ask the founder of Reliant who had a rather queer reason to name the company thus.
T L Williams used to be a Works Manager at Raleigh Safety Seven when he left the company to create his own 3-wheeler. He built his first prototype vehicle at Tamworth in UK and named the vehicle The Reliant. It is believed that some of the parts he used in the vehicle had the initial R written on them and hence he had to name his company starting with the letter R!
The first Reliant, which came out in 1935, had a single cylinder air cooled 600cc JAP engine. It was upgraded to a twin cylinder water-cooled JAP engine in March 1936. Side by side seating was introduced in the front of the car.
In the next two years, Reliant started using Austin 7 engine for its vehicles. But then Austin decided to stop production of this engine but did not mind if Reliant copied their engine. Very soon, Reliant created its own 747 cc side-valve engine and discontinued the usage of Austin 7.
Post the Second World War, Reliant introduced a four-seater in 1952. However, the main attraction of this was that the aluminium parts were replaced by glass fibre. The company then collaborated with Autocars, an Israeli motor company, to introduce Sabres, a sports car. Its first Scimitar made its appearance in 1964.
Continuing with its track record of innovating, the company introduced Reliant Robin in 1973- it was the first car to have a rear opening window. This was a car that had several follow-up models with variations, including The Standard Robin, The Super Robin, The Robin Estate and the Robin Van. The Robin gained considerable popularity when Princess Anne brought a Robin Super Saloon.
Also, in the 1970s, Reliant bought over Bond Motor Company renowned for Bond Bug (a 3-wheeler sports car). Tom Karen of Ogle Design then created a unique microcar with a lift-up canopy. But the Bond Bug did not receive as much success as Reliant had hoped for. After building over 2000 cars, the production of Bond cars was stopped in May 1974.
Between 1992 and 1995, the Scimitar Sabre was restyled, making it the second fastest Reliant ever (1800Ti was the fastest). Production stopped in May 1995.
At the turn of the millennium, Reliant stopped making 3-wheelers. However, on the 65th anniversary of 3-wheeler production, Reliant created 65 Special Edition Robins (Robin 65). In April 2001, B&N Plastics got the production rights for Reliant Robin.
The most renowned owner of Scimitar is Her Royal Highness Princess Anne who had 8 Scimitar GTEs, while Duke of Edinburgh drove Triplex Ogle GTS. In addition, the Duke of Kent and Prince Edward had Scimitar GTCs.
Actress Rita Tushingham owned a Scimitar GTE SE5. Mike McGear of The Scaffold pop group fame and Dec Cluskey of "The Bachelors" group too had a Scimitar.
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