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MotorShow 2000 : NEC, Birmingham. UK

On Saturday 20th October 2000 I went down to the Motorshow to investigate just how many 3-wheelers I could find and there were a couple of suprises in store.

These are the 3-wheelers I found:


Imagine how surprised I was to find this little gem on the Mercedes Benz stand.  Its Karl Benz’s 1886 “Motorwagen”. Whilst everyone was looking at the latest Mercedes Benz had to offer this little motor appeared to be almost invisible. I wonder how many folks realised that this was the first petrol powered motor car in the world, but then I guess how many really cared. Sadly though Mercedes didn’t show their F300 Lifejet.


Now I have to confess I was a little disappointed in Reliant not having a single Reliant motor there. I knew the eagerly awaited new Reliant 4-wheeler would not be there but I thought despite the fact Reliant announced they are stopping production of the Robin in December this year, they would have at least had the Robin 65 on show.  Sadly not, the only 3-wheeler on show was various forms of the Piaggio Ape that included a Pizza Delivery van and an Ice Cream van. They all seemed to bring great amusement to those who looked at them and were certainly smaller than I imagined them to be. Despite this Reliant at least had a very nice lady behind the information desk so I just couldn’t help but ask for further information. Looking at the brochure you can’t help but think that Reliant have turned from car manufacturer into car seller selling small import vehicles, even a new Reliant logo is now displayed on their brochure. Reliant was one of the last true British vehicles but with names such as Piaggio, Ligier and Guigiaro all on show the only British thing about the Reliant stand was its name.

Corbin Motors

Now this was another surprise as I didn’t expect to see Corbin Motors at the Motorshow as I thought of them as an American thing but soon discovered that they are being sold by Ecovec Plc in the UK. The Sparrow is an electric 3-wheeler and on show were numerous models of the Sparrow included a “chopped up” version so that you could see all the workings inside, and boy do they contain some batteries! The shape is unmistakable and they looked great vehicles.  Along with the Sparrows was a great looking Merlin tucked away at the corner of the stand though sadly you could not get to see inside that as the doors were locked. The Merlin looks like something straight out of a Sci Fi film though saying that the Corbin Sparrow was featured in the Dark Angel series as a futuristic police car.

Grinnall Specialist Cars

Even though I have known about Grinnall since 1992 I had yet to see a Grinnall Scorpion III face to face and so was looking forward to find the Grinnall stand to try one out. I have to confess though when I found the stand the blonde lady behind the information stand actually grabbed my attention long before the Scorpion III did. (You had to be there to see the dress) The Scorpion III however was no disappointment and looked great though my biggest disappointment was that you could not sit inside it so I just had to have a look. It was great to see one at last though as the e-mails I get from Grinnall owners are always saying how much they enjoy the vehicle.  On display with the Scorpion was also Grinnall’s new trike though as of yet this web site is preliminary a “3-wheeled car thing”.

3-wheeled Pram!

Whilst I took a standard 35mm camera my mate, Peter Bennett took his digital camera and so captured all the images on this page for me.  In addition he could not help but snap a picture of this 3-wheeled pram proclaiming, “but its got 3-wheels”. on Screen.

The Internet presence at the Motorshow this year was in abundance so with so many PCs at hand you just can’t help but bring up for the world to see. The top picture is on the Autoby stand though when they saw it they were not very happy at all and soon changed it back. Below that though is the American Express stand and whilst we brought up the site we were caught by one of the ladies there named Shannon who had an exceptionally nice Belfast accent.  At first she thought we were about to surf some “dodgy” site until Pete showed her what the site was. When she discovered we were “computer people” we then got to hear all about some “fraud protection chip” in the card and for our surfing sins we got talked into signing up for an American Express card ... whilst stayed on screen.


Benz: 1886 Motorwagen
Piaggio Ape Pizza Van
Piaggio Ape Ice Cream Van
Corbin Sparrow
Corbin Merlin
Sparrow in the nude
Grinnall Scorpion III dashboard
3-wheelers on the Autoby stand
3-wheelers on the American Express stand

Initially I went to the Motorshow to see what was on the Reliant and Grinnall stand so it was a pleasant surprise to find Corbin and Benz’s 3-wheeler. I couldn’t help but wonder just how many more there would have been at a motorshow in the 1950’s. But whilst I am a great 3-wheeler fan you just cant help but admire some of the advances in 4-wheelers these days. Some of the technology in cars is amazing, but my favourites had to be the new Ford Mondeo with TV screens in the seat headrest, the Volvo C70 that had a button on the steering column entitled “Read” and when pressed proclaimed, “you have no new messages”.  The new TVRs on display looked simply awesome and the Rolls Royce and Bentley stand just leaves you bewildered at the size of these cars.  My favourite of the show though had to be the Cadillac Concept Car. This was a huge beast with cameras for wing mirrors and finger print id door handles and a shape that would turn every head as you drove down the street. 

I’ve just one criticism with all the present car manufacturers though and that’s fake wood!  Don’t do it!! What’s the point in building a state of the art vehicle with every gadget known to man kind and sticking it in a dashboard of fake wood that looks like plastic pretending to be wood.  Its cheap and looks tacky, so Mercedes, Audi, Volvo and Ford buy a field, fill it full of sustainable trees and use real wood.  Its looks much better ... honest!

Elvis Payne: Copyright Oct 21st 2000