On the 24th July 2008, I logged onto the R3W forum in all innocence to catch up with everything that was happening in the Reliant world. It was then I spotted a post by Peteadee saying there was a Regal Mk VI van on ebay, I had a look and just could not resist bidding. I’ve seen Mk VI saloons before but I’ve never seen a Mk VI van except in old photographs. The auction ended on 29th July and over the next few days I bid several times until finally the auction ended and to much jubilation, I had won it. I phoned the seller who was based about a 4 - 5 hours drive away in Devon and they said they would deliver the car as well. So arrangements were made and Lucie arrived on my doorstep at about 10:30 am on Tuesday 5th August 2008. (The vehicle is called Lucie as I Googled the registration number PSL and it came back with Port St. Lucie which I thought would be a great name.)
The second I saw the car I was happy though the chaps who brought her down were keen that I start her up and take her for a spin round the block before parting with any cash, as soon as the key was turned she fired up and drove superbly. The deal was done, documents signed and I am now the proud owner.
Whilst from the outside the car looks as though it needs a little TLC, under the body she is mechanically superb. The van has been a rolling restoration over three years with the body off. The chassis has been cleaned, painted and wax oiled, the brakes overhauled and renewed, the radiator recored, the dynamo, starter motor and engine rebuilt, a new wiring loom, new seats, new window and rear door rubbers, new wooden frame work in certain areas and lots of other new parts. Essentially the car just needs new carpet and painting.
Before I do this though there are a few little changes I shall make, the dual front indicators are side lights are off an early Morris, so I plan to replace these with the original Reliant indicators and swap the headlamps for the the original type that also came with a sidelight built into them.
The switches on the dashboard, whilst all working perfectly, seem to be from a multitude of vehicles so I shall replace those with all the same type. The original chrome bumpers are also missing from the front of the car so hopefully I can find replacements. Lucie also came with a number of spare parts that should also be useful at some point in time.
Inside as mentioned she needs a bit of sound proofing, new carpet, a couple of other little jobs and a lick of paint. The main thing is though, that Lucie is fully road legal with MOT, Tax and insurance, I can use her on the roads whilst I carry out the work. On the first day the car was outside my house, I later had an e-mail from someone in Tamworth reporting that they had seen a really old Reliant in the street I live in. I also took here for a drive and visited the housing estate where the old Reliant factory was so that I could get a photo of her next to the Regal Close sign.
The original colour, going by a bit of paint left near the window, was dark blue though I really like the beige colour at the back of the van so I shall paint Lucie either cream or beige.
I have also discovered that despite Snoopy and Gwenn being older 1970’s models, they are quite luxurious in comparison. Mk VI vans have no heater, no winding windows, no sun visors, no seat belts, no interior light and no synchromesh on first and second gear. My first drive out was a bit of a noisy affair changing gears though now I am becoming more used to the gearbox, crunching sounds are a lot less now.
Having said this, inside the vehicle there is much more room for the driver and the space in the rear is wider than later Reliants that have a dual skin.
Go to Part 2