On the 17th December 2005 my first book “How to restore Reliant Regal” was launched. I had no idea what to expect as the last book launch I was invited to was Stephen Vokins book “Weird Cars” which was held at the British Embassy in Paris with lots of VIPs, champagne and posh snacks ... and I guessed it would not be anything like that ... though there were similarities. The location for my book launch was the Tamworth Information Centre (TIC) in Market Street, Tamworth. The folks there laid out a little table for me adorned with a little table cloth and several copies of my book. Outside the shop was a busy Christmas market day but in the middle of the market, a gap was saved outside the shop and my Reliant Regal Supervan III (or Ole Blue as she is known) was parked on display for all to see. The champagne of Paris was replaced by a much needed cup of tea and the posh food ... a sausage roll from the Bakers a few doors down. Both were hot and most enjoyable on a cold December morning.
My brother (Geoff) had brought the car over from Birmingham fresh from it’s MOT on a trailer and so this was the first day that the car ventured out onto the public roads under its own steam since 1979. Having washed and waxed the car my brother and I set off for the TIC. The TIC is in a pedestrianised road and so it meant driving through and around all the maket stalls. Upon arriving and settling down I then realised that I had forgotten my digital camera. DOH!! Of all the things to forget. My brother then rushed out and brought a disposable camera and we were all set.
About 9:45am folks from the Reliant3wheeler (R3W) forum (the VIPs in this equation) started to appear with folks having travelled as far away as South Yorkshire and London. Reliant type chats soon ensued, along with books being purchased and scribbled in by myself ... that was with the exception of “St8lolly’s” copy of the book of which most folks present appeared to sign.
All this time “Ole Blue” was parked outside the shop and was gaining a lot of attention. Perhaps the most comical thing in many eyes was the “Tax in Post” message that I had in the window. As the vehicle was taxed online I had to wait 4 days for the tax disc to arrive via the post. This meant displaying a Tax in Post message along with a DVLA reference number below it.
Come early afternoon the R3W chaps decided that it was time to make a move and so planned that we would all meet at the Snow Dome in Tamworth for a group photograph. So, not sure if I could get my car back outside the TIC again I signed all the remaining books and was about to jump into Ole Blue with my brother when a chap stopped us and asked were we coming back as he wanted to chat to us. So we decided that we would go back.
At the Snow Dome a small group of Reliants met up and we all took several photos before all flying off around the town. My brother and I then had to drive though a pedestrianised road full of market stalls and hundreds if not billions of Christmas shoppers. Many were completely oblivious to Ole Blue approaching them and so my brother got out of the car and warned people to move as I slowly trundled forward in first gear at 2mph. Then the worst thing possible happend. After about 5 minutes there was a strange clattering sound and I noticed my brother turning and looking at the Reliant’s bonnet with a puzzled look on his face. Suddenly the engine started to cough and with a concerning burning smell the car died ... and what a location it chose ... in the middle of a market square surrounded by hundreds of Christmas shoppers all trying to squeeze past. I turned the ignition key a couple of times and knew from the resulting sound that the car was not going to fire up. By now a small crowd had gathered around the car, some taking photos with mobile phones but all in tears of laughter at this little Reliant broken down in the main market area. There was nothing for it, I leaned out of the window and said, “Geoff, you will have to push it”. Luckily we were only about 200 yards away from the shop and so with a huge hand on the back door and me in the car steering we soon arrived back outside the shop. Thank heavens Reliants are light weight!
After opening the bonnet the problem was found in seconds. The HT lead that goes from the coil to the distributor was a bit long and as a result had wandered aimlessly into the path of the cooling fan. This just didn’t think twice and proceeded to slice the HT lead in half - and hey presto, one dead Regal. Luckily home was not far away and so after running home and getting a spare HT lead, this was fixed in place and the car fired straight into life again ... much to my relief.
Ole Blue then stayed on show for a couple more hours and it was truly amazing just how many Tamworthians came up to me to share stories of when they used to work at Reliant, one chap was even convinced that he had made the chassis that the car was on.
Eventually it was time to go home and so after thanking the staff at the TIC I jumped into Ole Blue and drove a lap around the town before returning home.