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Reliant Owners Club.

45th National Rally  23rd May- 26th May 2003 (Coven, Wolverhampton, UK)

On Sunday 25th May I jumped into my car and headed for the 45th Reliant Owners Club National Rally.  Unlike last year I was driving from my house in Tamworth rather than my girlfriend’s house in Windsor and so decided that the A5 through Brownhills and Cannock would be a suitable route. Boy was I in for a shock when I discovered the route is littered with road works for the new M6 Toll road and worst still there is a speed camera what seems quite literally every 50 yards. My GPS system was flashing like a Christmas tree and beeping like a possessed Microwave oven constantly warning me not to speed as I approached yet another camera.

The weather had been a bit dubious the day before but just after I arrived the sun peered out from behind its cloud and all seemed grand. As I wandered about Owners all jumped into their Reliants and drove them into the arena; there was a good variety to, ranging from a 1956 Reliant Regal Mk III to a 1963 Bond Mk G. Sadly my car is still a Rover and so it still sits on the side lines pondering why it has one wheel too many.

As I looked at the cars I thought its strange when your a webmaster of a site like You get to see everyone’s car but you never their faces. I suddenly noticed a rather sporty looking Reliant Robin LX with a huge ex-Volvo 440 spoiler on the roof. I instantly recognised this from my Owners Gallery but do you think I could remember who owned it? I scratched my head in the hope it would fire some sort of mental chain reaction but no, not a thing.  It turned out to be Guy Mendum and I thought, yes that’s the chap as my brain pretended it actually knew all along.  As I was talking to Guy, Malcolm Norris of appeared asking, “Have you seen my wheels?”.  A quick inspection later revealed that his Rialto 2 is supporting gigantic but rather magnificent 13” Alloy wheels. If anyone says you cant put 13” wheels on a Rialto well let me tell you - yes you can!

After debating with Malcolm that we should cut the top of his car off to make a pick up the cars left the arena and so I went to find the 1963 Bond Mk G. I found it at the corner of the site and asked the owner could I sit in it to see what is was like. Don’t get me wrong its a superb car, but being 6 foot 3” its one that’s not for me. As I shoe horned myself into it my legs were crammed under the steering wheel. Then I had the task of getting out.  That wasn’t easy! Paranoid I might break something I leaned across the passenger chair and discovered I could feed my legs out of the car one by one. Eventually I squeezed myself out and as my belly was starting to grumble I thanked the owner and immediately sought sanctuary in my car with a pile of Turkey Sandwiches that I had made earlier.  As I chewed away I noticed that the maneuverability competition was set up and so decided to have ago.

First up I tried in my Rover 620SLi, and my brain just wasn’t in gear. Despite being told what I should be doing I was still doing it wrong.  After what seemed like a disaster I then had a go in Kerry Croxton’s 1972 Reliant Regal 21E and immediately I was surprised at the space inside them. The head room seemed great and whilst my legs were not stretched out the car wasn’t uncomfortable.

Click on the title to see that group of pictures.





I fired up the Regal and tried the course again. As I weaved in and out of the canes I then came to the part that I have to reverse into a coned box except help, where’s reverse?  I put the car into reverse and the car went forward,  I tried again and it did it again. I then looked out of the window and saw Karen Deevey and shouted I’ve lost reverse.  She replied back, I think its up.  So I tried again and indeed it was, up just passed first gear.  Its the first Reliant I’ve been in that’s had reverse up there as usually they are all down. So after amusing a gathering crowd that I couldn’t find reverse I finished the rest of the course.

As I parked the car up I bumped into Gordon Jackson who had his 1969 Bond 875 there with just 22,000 miles on the clock. The car has an Hilman Imp 875cc engine at the back so the front contains the spare wheel.  I was mildly amused though when I discovered that the petrol cap is also at the front under the bonnet and is actually right in the centre of the spare wheel. I could just imagine the looks people would give you as you poured petrol into the spare wheel under the bonnet.  They think I’m mad now!!

Right back to the maneuverability competition. Next up was Kerry's Fox Campervan. I jump in and went to reverse it out of its space and nothing seemed to happen. I tried again, nothing.  So I think maybe this has one of those up reverse gears to like the Regal but nope, no reverse gear up there.  As I was thinking what is it about me and reverse gear today I put it back into reverse but this time give it a few more revs. Aha, I was right first time, I was just being too gentle.  Things didn’t seem to bad in the Fox until Kerry had a go and showed me how it should be done.  Yup, you could tell who owned the vehicle the way he through it round the course. As I felt I made such a hash of my first attempt in the Rover I had another go and this time seemed to do a little bit better.

After more talking, walking and eating it was time for the prizes and when they came to the maneuverability competition. I was surprised to discover that I came 3rd in the Reliant 3-wheeler class, 3rd in the Reliant 4-wheeler class and 3rd in the non-Reliant 4-wheeler class. As I had two attempts though I had come first to and so went up to collect a trophy that I can keep for a year and a prize.

As I came out of the marquee after the awards I noticed the 1956 Regal Mk III parked up and so asked the owner if I could try it out for size. Compared to the Bond Mk G there was a lot of space inside and I got in and out with no bother.

Returning to my car I realised that my food bag was now empty and so packed up ready to go.  As I switched on my GPS I decided that perhaps the A5 wasn’t the best of routes and so decided to head home along the M6 and M42.  Apart from a few potential accident blackspot areas the system remained quiet and the journey home was a quiet one.

Elvis Payne

25th May 2003