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Official Reliant Robin BN-1 launch. 12th July 2001. ( Northampton, UK)

On the 12th July 2001, I was invited down to see the official launch of the new Reliant Robin BN-1 and at last get a first hand look at the new Robins.  Despite getting horribly lost driving down, the event was a nostalgic one with the media flitting in throughout the day all fascinated that one of the UK’s most famous 3-wheelers had come back to life.

B&N Plastics were going to hold the event at the base in Suffolk but Grays of Thrapston in Northampton (UK) offered to host the event as they are more centrally based in the UK. Despite being main Reliant dealers I have to admit I’ve never seen so many 3-wheelers at a garage before. In addition to the original Reliants the event had three Reliant Robin BN-1’s with one of those being the original prototype that was not for sale.  The other two were sold in no time at all. 

When I first arrived I had a look around the cars and inside and the first thing you notice when you poke your head in is the smell of leather, not something I have ever associated with my Reliants! The new dashboard and centre console is also excellent.  I have always puzzled why the same basic design was always used but these really give the vehicle a new fresh look inside and with the standard sunroof the interior is light and airy and you suddenly forget you are sitting inside a 3-wheeler.  The old door panels have gone to with new redesigned ones with a solid chome handle to pull the door shut rather than rely on the plastic tray in the door panel.

When ever you look around cars it seems the manly thing to do to open the bonnet and look at the engine and just stare at it.  So, I flipped open the bonnet to be greeted by an amazingly tidy engine compartment. So I stared at it for a little while and satisfied I’d stared at it enough I went to talk to the folks there.

It was most interesting talking to Les Collier, the chap making them and to the chaps in attendance from Reliant. The whole emphasis with the Robin BN-1 appears to be to produce a high quality vehicle that customers can be proud of.  I watched as Les Collier was being interviewed by Anglia TV and after the interview Les told the reporter all about the Robins and she suddenly said to him, “You are really proud of these arn’t you?”, and he is, its almost as if each vehicle is looked at as a one off rather than being mass produced.  I was told that during the last couple of years of production, Reliants did get through to customers that had a few quality issues but everyone seems committed that these issues are raised and fixed prior to shipment.

Click on the title to see that group of pictures.




On the day a couple of quality issues were pointed out; one being the quality of the finish on the window frame in the front doors. The doors have been cut off the jig and roughly finished as it was believed a rubber seal would be stuck over the edge. Alas it wasn’t to be and so all future vehicles will now have the edges sanded and smoothed out prior to painting. The paint work on the Robins is one of the key features that make it look more luxurious.  The quality is outstanding with a really deep shine and the copper coloured vehicle on show had an amazingly deep shine to it.

The launch also announced the arrival of the new Reliant Robin BN-2 with exclusive light reactive paint. There were a number of test cards showing how the paint will change colour when viewed from different angles and the silver and copper especially had a good range of different colours inside them. These vehicles are being offered alongside the BN-1 range depending on the paint finish you require.

On the side of things I was also really pleased that so many people knew about the site and know the content of it so well. Grays of Thrapston were also fans and I have to admit that they were most friendly supplying me with tea and biscuits!!!

All in all the event was a really positive one and looking at the reports on TV and in the newspapers the media seems to really have cheered on this new Robin.  Apart from the obvious Del Boy jokes they all seem pleased that the Robin is back and have reported accordingly. Sounds to me as the B&N Plastics has made an excellent start to raise the publics opinions of the Reliant Robin already!

Elvis Payne. July 2001