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Reliant Rialto Saloon post facelift
Reliant Rialto Estate post facelift
1994 Reliant Robin Mk2 SLX
Reliant Robins are also raced by enthusiasts

The Reliant Robin is a small three wheeled car manufactured by the Reliant Motor Company in Tamworthmarker, England. Being a three-wheeler with an official weight below , and, despite its size, the Robin can be driven by holders of a B1 category license or car license in the United Kingdommarker, can be registered and taxed at motorcycle rates, which gives considerable savings over a conventional car. The single wheel in the front steers, while the engine (also in the front) drives the rear axle.

The Robin was first manufactured in 1966, and the final original Robin rolled off the production line in 1981. The vehicle was also produced under license in Greecemarker by MEBEA between 1974 and 1978. In 1989, Reliant produced a new and totally revamped Robin featuring a new fibreglass body, and increased engine power. This Robin was facelifted again in 1999 when the final version was launched that had its biggest change since originally launched with completely new panels, and Opel Corsa front lamps. Designed by Andy Plumb (now of LA:UK Design Ltd) this hatchback-only model lasted until February 2001 when Reliant announced the end of production. The final sixty-five Robins designed in 1999 manufactured by Reliant formed a Special Edition known as the Robin 65, featuring leather trim, walnut interior, and a numbered plaque, and sold for approximately £10,000. Manufacturing of the Robin resumed under license by a company called B&N Plastics in April 2002, but stopped in October of the same year.

Reliant three-wheelers enjoy a special place in British culture, often as the butt of jokes, such as when Patsy Stone dismissively refers to Edina Monsoon's isolation chamber as resembling one in the TV series Absolutely Fabulous. The Reliant Robin is staple material for comedian Jasper Carrott. However, perhaps two of the best known Reliants in British comedy are actually Reliant Regal Supervans — the dirty yellow van owned by the Trotter brothers in Only Fools and Horses, and the light blue which always ends up getting tipped over, crashed into, bumped out of its parking space etc. by a British Leyland Mini in Mr Bean.

Robins are raced, as shown in the photograph on the right. During races several cars usually overturn. The driver can return the car onto its wheels unaided from inside the car by rocking it and pushing down on the track through the window.

In the February 18, 2007 episode of Top Gear, a Reliant Robin was used by Richard Hammond and James May in an attempt to modify a normal K-reg Robin into a reusable space shuttle. Steve Holland, a professional radio-controlled aircraft pilot, helped Hammond to work out how to land a Robin safely. The craft achieved a successful launch, flew for several seconds into the air and managed to successfully jettison the solid fuel rocket boosters on time. This was the largest rocket launched by a non-government organisation in Europe. It used 6 x 40960 NS O hybrid rocket motors giving a maximum thrust of 8 metric tons. However the car failed to separate from the large external fuel tank due to a faulty alignment between the Robin and the external tank (10 thousandths of an inch out), the Robin subsequently crashed and was shown to explode.

In the June 18, 2007 episode of Fifth Gear, Tom Ford and Johnny Smith both modified a Reliant Robin, to compete against each other in a speed challenge and a destruction derby.

In the UK, the Reliant Robin is sometimes affectionately nicknamed the "Plastic Pig" because of its distinctive shape and fibreglass bodyshell.

A Reliant Robin is featured in the Golden Earring's video of "Radar Love."

Reliant Robins make semi-regular appearances on Scrapheap Challenge, often stripped down to a light three-wheeled chassis. One team converted the car into a wheelie-racer.

The Reliant Robin had a sister model of car also made by Reliant called the Rialto. Both look similar and have the same chassis.

Reliant Robin was also manufactured in India by Sunrise Automotive Industries Limited as Badal.


In the popular book series Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison, Georgia Nicholson's family purchases a Reliant Robin. Georgia refers to it as a "clown car" and is embarrassed at the thought of even being seen riding in it. In one of the books, Georgia's family goes to Memphis, Tennesseemarker to go to a Reliant Robin convention.

The Reliant Robin is also mentioned in cult 1980's British sitcom The Young Ones by Jerzy Balowski, the Young Ones' landlord.

On an episode of Junkyard Wars. a blue Robin was converted into a Steam powered racecar. It won the race against a steam powered Jeep Cherokee.

In the Red Dwarf episode "Better Than Life" Arnold Rimmer's first thought-up car is a Reliant Robin stuck in the sand.

The car (actually a Reliant Regal) is featured in the TV series "Mr Bean", where it is sort of a recurring joke, whenever it is seen, Mr Bean knocks it over or bumps into it etc.

This car has been featured in several episodes of "Last of the Summer Wine".

The car is a key feature in Tracey Ullman's video of "They Don't Know."

Top Gear made one into a space shuttle which went terribly wrong and exploded.



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