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Reliant Owners Club.

44th National Rally  31st May- 3rd June 2002 (Coven, Wolverhampton, UK)

On Sunday 2nd June I headed off to the Reliant Owners Club’s 44th National Rally.  A quick break at a service station on the way saw my glove box filled with diet-coke and crisp and a brand new 2002 AA road atlas. Hmmmm Coven, see page 40, yup I was going the right way and shortly after I arrived to found owners all driving their vehicles into the arena for the grand opening ceremony.  Alas, like last year, I had arrived in my Rover and so this was tucked away at the side of the field ready to provide me with refreshments should I need them.  Camera in hand and the sun beating down I made my way to the arena and within seconds bumped into Malcolm Norris from and then Sam Houghton from  After saying our hellos and discovering from Malcom that Sam perhaps isn’t the best of navigators in a road run I started taking a few shots of the cars. 

The first thing to catch my eye was a Bond 875 that looked in superb condition. A few snaps later I then met Brian Radford of and as I chatted to him and admired the two huge IBM mainframe fans attached to the underside of his bonnet a glint of orange caught the corner of my eye.  Was that a Bond Bug I see, as I tilted my head to one side it became clear, yes, indeed it was. Now I have to admit here and now that I’ve seen many a Bond Bug flying down the motorway on the opposite lane but never seen one right up close. I walked over to it and and a good snoop around and admired it in full.  That looked a great fun car to own, at this point I then looked up to see Santa Clause himself in the shape of John Copestake of Carwise Reliant Spares and also Thomas Touw of Automotive Creation. ( Its just amazing how many of these people have their own web sites.) 

A short while later all the cars had left the arena and I decided to go and find the Bong Bug that I had been admiring and found it at the corner of a field next to a tent owned by Gary Moore.  After a quick chat with Gary I asked could I sit inside it and see what it was like - and have a photo to.  Gary lifted the bright orange hood and I clambered eagerly inside and it was higher than I expected.  Gary then asked, “Do you want the hood down?”, Yes please I replied and whack the lid came down straight on my head.  Maybe I need to squash up bit more I thought. I judged by the look on Gary’s face that he hadn’t noticed and better still that my head wasn’t poking out the other side.  Inside the controls are all nicely laid out and all at hand though I was surprised at how tight things seemed. Having long legs can be a nuisance at times.   At this point hunger pangs began to surface .. time to retreat to the car for some refreshments,

Fully refreshed I was just on my way back to the arena when a voice came over the tannoy, “Is Elvis Payne here” that’s me I thought (I’m very quick like that) and so I wandered over to find the ROC historian Bob Neale looking for me.  Apparently he hadn’t a clue what I looked like but was looking for a short chap. Needless to say being 6ft 3” he couldn’t find me. It turned out though that he had some superb information for me all stored away inside a large envelope and it was then that I discovered the biggest surprise when he showed me a clipping from the June 2002 edition of “Classics” magazine as it had listed under a web site review with 4 stars out of 5.  I had no idea that this site was listed in there. I then met Kerry Croxton who for those of you who don’t know him by face will recognize his name from the A-Z section for he has donated numerous amounts of info and pictures to it.  Kerry kindly offered me the use of his Reliants for the maneuverability competition and I gladly accepted his offer though was surprised at the results. As there are different classes I entered each one.

Click on the title to see that group of pictures.





Photos taken with my watch.

First up was in Kerry’s 1986 Reliant Rialto 2 3-wheeler. At one point a chap moves apart two canes and when you think they are the width of you car you have to drive through without touching them, then stop so they can measure the distance from the cane to the door handle. Obviously the smaller the distance the better the points.  Well I misjudged this completely. I had about 4 inches to spare one side but about 3 ft to spare the other side. I could probably have got the car through length ways with that. Then you drive the car into a marked pen and have to drive as close as you can up to the cane without touching it.  I think I was about 6 inches away on that, not too impressive, after that you reverse the car into another area and do the same thing again this time reversing, about 9 inches away ... what was I doing?  The last phase is to place the front wheel in a marked out box on the ground by driving up to it.  I saw the area vanish under the car and stopped.  Yes I was OK for that.  After that I then did the course again in my Rover.  Let me assure you the turning circle of a Rover 620SLi compared to a Reliant Rialto is huge. I then slid the car into first and attempted to drive up to the cane and park, but disaster, instead of parking next to the cane I ran the thing over.  I looked at the judges sheepishly and said, “oppps”,  So that was the 3-wheeler entry, the non-reliant entry so I then had a go in Kerry’s 4-wheeler Reliant Fox Camper van. That was great and leaving the backdoor open I managed to reverse up to the cane with a 2.5” gap. After that Kerry, Paul Kenny and myself formed a team entry and I did the course again in Kerry’s 1968 4-wheeler Reliant Rebel.

All this swapping of cars had made me hungry so it was back to the car again for refreshments, but disaster, I was out of coke so I went to the stall and had a hot cup of tea - that was heavenly. Towards the end of the day everyone gathered into the marquee for the prizes so I thought I’d pop in before I go.  As folks cheered different people the manouverabity test came up and in the 3-wheeler section I came no where, not that I expected to, you could have got a Sherman tank through the gap I estimated.  Then the Reliant 4-wheeler manouverabity test came up and wow, I sat there amazed to discover I had come third. Next came the non-Reliant competition and I came second. When I ran that cane over I would be doomed for that” but with a grin worthy of a Cheshire cat I went up to collect my trophy but no soon had I sat down the team results came up and Kerry, Paul and I had come first so I was back up again with the chaps to pick up another trophy and a team cup that the Telford branch (as that is who we are all members of) get to keep for a year.

After the prizes had all gone and the rain attempted to fall I said my goodbyes and retired to the car.  I fumbled in my food bag for the remnants of what was left and checked my mobile phone, 1 message from my girlfriend.  I scrunched up the last crisp wrapper and started up the car.  That was another great rally.

Elvis Payne

2nd June 2002