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Shows &  Events.

Reliant Owners Club.

47th National Rally  27thMay- 30th May 2005 (Coven, Wolverhampton, UK)

Usually when I attend the ROC National Rally I am just a day visitor on the Sunday but as this was the first time in years that I was bringing a Reliant, I thought I  would come a day early and camp over for the night. As my Regal Supervan III is still fresh from its restoration and an unknown commodity when it comes to driving on the roads (ie: Iím not sure how far it would get without breaking down) I thought that it is probably best to tow the car there.  As a result my brother spent a  few mad days converting an old caravan chassis into a rather splendid Reliant trailer. When the day arrived we toyed with driving the Regal straight onto the trailer and so I started it up but then we decided that we would winch it onto the trailer as there would be less weight. Whilst positioning the ramps the Reliant suddenly stopped ticking over, I looked up but thought no more of it. Reliant now on the trailer and firmly strapped down, my brother and I headed for Coven, the trailer handled superbly and with the exception of a slower take off speed I could hardly tell I was pulling a trailer and Reliant.

Arriving at Coven (Sat 28th) we  paid our camping fees and set up the tent. The Regal was now attracting a bit of attention here and there and so we slowly winched it off the trailer. Once off I jumped inside to start her up and she wouldn't start. I tried again and nothing. This I thought is highly unusual as the car always starts first or second time. After a couple of turns it suddenly dawned on me that the engine had cut out whilst we were loading the trailer - ďDOH! PetrolĒ, I thought. Having a full can in the Rover, I poured half a can into the Reliant and after a couple of turns the engine fired into life -much to my relief. To give the Regal a good drive my brother jumped into the passenger seat and we took the car around the field with people waving as we drove passed them  The car seemed to be a star in itís own right with people recognising it even though they have never seen it in real life. The night followed with a live band, several beers in the marquee and then back to the tent for the night.

It was at this point I realised that having a tent next to the marquee probably wasn't so good and suddenly it seemed apparent why some folks camp right on the edge of the field. As I lay there listening to the hustle and bustle of folks chatting in the marquee, the sound eventually came to an end and all that ensued was the faint hum of a motorway gently enriched by the sound of rain lightly tapping on the tent ... and then suddenly a retching sound as a young girl in a tent not far from ours proceeded to be sick. Luckily the crying stage soon approached and her and her friend fell asleep, and then, the night was silent at last.

As the morning arrived I felt like I hadn't slept a wink but my brother and been sleeping like a log all night. Grabbing our wash bags we cleaned up and then enjoyed a rather tasty full English breakfast. The night had seen very light rain but the morning sun broke through the clouds and was drying things up pretty fast. Being signalled over by the ROC chaps, I moved my Reliant onto the field ready for the Car Line up. My brother and I then proceeded to dry off all the rain and
give it a good last minute polish as Wilfried (travelling all the way from Holland) came over to tell us that you donít need to wash Reliants - the factory did that when they made them!  Within the next 30 minutes other Reliants started to line up and it became quite apparent that this was going to be a very good Reliant turn out.

Click on the title to see that group of pictures.

SET 1

SET 2

SET 3

SET 4

Although they have four wheels I was surprised to see five Reliant fox camper vans all sitting in a row, these things usually hunt alone or at most in a pair but to see five at once was most unusual and great to see. Once all the cars lined up there was a superb line up of 3-wheelers; these included five Bond Bugs (4 orange and 1 green), A whole collection of Reliant Rialtos and Mk 1, 2 and 3 Reliant Robins, a rather superb Reliant Regal Mk 6 and an early Reliant Regal 3/25 owned by Phil Riley. The 3/25 was in superb condition and pleasingly provided me with some great photos for my book.  There was also a few Regal 3/30s and interesting oddities like a Robin pick up truck, "Rialtopless" (A topless Rialto that was the splendid result of a crash victim), a 3-wheeled garden and even an old Heinkel owned by Malcolm Dodd. Wo there, I can hear you shouting, a 3-wheeled garden! Well OK it was a "Garden Robin", a Reliant Robin that had been taken to pieces and rebuilt with superb wrought iron hand work, a garden bench as a seat and then covered in artificial plants. Near the bottom was an ornamental squirrel clinging on for itís life.  This brought much amusement to my brother every time he saw the car.

Once the maneuverability competition got going I just had to have a go in my Regal, and it was great being able to use my own car as usually I always borrow one of Kerry Croxtons (who this year had four of his Reliants present). The maneuverability competition this year involved two canes being moved closer together and when you think thatís the width of your car you say stop and drive in between them.  A measurement is then taken from the widest point of your car to the cane.  As I squeezed in between them there was 0.5" of space between my driver door handle and the cane and 1.5" between the passenger door handle and the cane. ďFantasticĒ I thought. You then drive forward until your front wheel is on a rubber mat on the floor (this mat having earlier being swiped out of my Rover) this I just about managed to park on. So far so good. The car is then reversed into a garage made of three canes. The ideal is to park as close to the back cane as you can whilst the side canes are of an equal distance each side of your car. Aha, now here is the first problem with a van, having no windows I couldnít even see the canes. I drove into them by guess work and whilst I was only 3 " away from the back cane there was a gap 12" wider one side than the other, this wasnít good. I then drove forward into another 3 caned garage and had pretty much the same results. I tried again in Malcolm Norris' Reliant Fox campervan and then in my Rover. In my Rover I had guessed the width about 1" too much and both my wing mirrors hit the canes scoring a 40 point penalty - which was especially terrible as I parked the front wheel on the mat and got no penalty points when I reversed into the garage - exactly 9" each side and less than an inch from the back cane. Oh well.

The whole afternoon was extremely busy talking to folks and my brother, when not judging the maneuverability, almost acted as Ambassador standing next to my car answering peopleís questions as I flitted here there and everywhere taking photos.. As a result the afternoon soon passed and it is the first time Iíve not really had time to go into the marquee to look at the photo competitions etc.  As my Reliant is a "rescued Reliant" that was saved from sitting on a driveway looking blankly at a garage, I entered it into the Car of the Day "rescued class". Finally at the end of the awards, came the prize for the rescued class and a couple of people tapped me on the shoulder saying "this is yours" to which I didnít really acknowledge as I never like to count my chickens before they hatch ... especially as they usually come frozen from Sainsburys.  Third prize for a rescued Reliant was announced for Kerry Croxton and then second prize announced to me with first prize awarded to Ian Gibson who has green but rather grand Bond Bug. Suddenly a shocked mumour went up behind me saying, "no way, that Bugs been on the road for a few years now" and they all looked at me. I hadn't said anything so didnít have a clue what to say and figured what ever I did say may sound like Iím a sore loser so just smiled and commented, "Second place is pretty good".  Amazingly despite my 40 point penalty with my Rover on the maneuverability competition I still managed to come third in the "Non-Reliant class" and also third in the "4-wheeler Reliant class". As far as 3-wheels are concerned though I still came now where - I guess I need far more practice driving 3-wheelers. Awards over it was time to pack up and head for home, the Reliant sat back on the trailer resting after itís busiest day for 25 years - clocking up almost 1 whole mile in 1 day.
 

Elvis Payne

May 2005