Reliant Robin

Reliant RobinOne of my favourite cars as a child, due to its surprising visual appeal was a Robin Reliant. I loved them with their funny little shape and bright colours, they looked like toys.

It wasn’t until years later that I learned this car was actually called a Reliant Robin, and calling it a Robin Reliant was incorrect on the same level as calling a Ford Escort an Escort Ford. This mistake was also exacerbated by the fact that Reliant only made the one model of car. (Although according to Wikipedia there were another 13 different models, the Robin is the only one anyone has ever heard of.) However, I grew up a few miles from the Reliant factory and it was a quite common car in our area, and everyone used the term Robin Reliant and Reliant Robin interchangeably.

They were also called Plastic Pigs as the body of the car was made of fibreglass not metal, and the shape of the front resembled a pig’s snout. Also Tamworth is famous for its pigs, and there are many other references to pigs in that area, for instance the Pretty Pigs pub. Though very common in our area, the Reliant was still the butt of many jokes.

The main reason for it seeming funny was being small and easily overturned, and the type of people who would drive it. The lightweight body meant that it was highly economical on fuel and easily repaired. You could drive a three-wheeler on a bike licence and pay much lower tax. As such, the Robin Reliant could be said to be one of the world’s first eco-cars. And herein lies the hilarity: being eco-friendly in the Seventies was weird.

If you were trying to save money on petrol for instance, you were considered to be mean, if you weren’t bothered by people laughing at the way the car looked then you were an anorak. At last this is not such a problem any more, now we have many eco-cars available. Unfortunately for the Robin, it also had a problem of overturning due to the lightweight design and they are no longer manufactured so they pose no threat to the Smart car.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

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One Response

  1. Sorry…have to disagreeon a couple of points. I’m not an anorak, but am a biker and have a Reliant Rialto I have owned for about 13 years. They are still produced new, around the 6K mark tho. The early ‘Regal’ models were prone to overturning, this was sorted by the Rialto, you gotta work quite hard to overturn one now. Brilliant Blog by the way, a child of the Seventies myself, being born in 1963. A lot of good memories you have brought back to me…Keep it up…

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