Over the last year my Reliant (Ole Blue - as she has now become known) has been pottering here, there and everywhere. If I had a £1 coin every time some one stopped and pointed at the car as I drive pass, I would be a very wealthy man. One of the biggest changes is that she now has an 850cc engine installed instead of the old 700cc version. Sadly the original engine, despite sounded very healthy and having had an overall, had brittle piston rings which eventually broke up and found their way into the sump - ironically she still started to, but sounded like a bag of nails. As 700cc engines are becoming rarer and 850cc engines are in abundance I decided to fit one of these instead and soon managed to find a few of them on ebay ... infact a job lot that included 5 engines in various states of build. I also changed the gearbox for an 850 version though this required a few modifications so that it would work with the clutch mechanism on the Regal. The operation looked pretty nasty to me but my dad, complete with scalpel, large mug of tea and various tools did a superb job and the clutch worked great. Ironically the vehicle goes no faster but now having a SU carburettor instead of the older Zenith downdraught type means that the vehicle does run and start a lot better. When I told my insurance company of the change, they were a bit unsure at first and wanted an engineer to inspect that the engine was installed correctly but when I explained that I’d built the whole car the year before, they were OK about it.
Another issue I had during warm weather was the pressure would build up in the fuel tank and force fuel down to the carburettor. Mentioning this on the R3W forum I soon discovered that as I was using a new locking petrol cap, this, unlike the original Regal petrol caps, did not have a pressure valve inside it that released air through a small pin hole in the cap. I took off the locking cap and used the original petrol cap with the pressure valve in it and the problem was cured instantly.
During May 2006, I took the car for it’s first long run (ie: outside the boundary of Tamworth) to the 48th National Reliant Rally. Despite me listening to every single engine sound wondering if something might go wrong, she performed admirably and even won the “Car of the Day - Rescued Class” trophy at the rally. Taking a slight detour meant driving back home for many miles along the M6 & M6 Toll, but again, she just sang her heart out and traveled along without a care in the world.
For most of the part, the car was used for just local trips here and there and was on show at the Tamworth Heritage weekend in September 2006. Again, Ole Blue seemed to enjoy the attention and spent the day being photographed and peered at.
Come December 2006, the vehicle went for its MOT at S.R Tomson & Son and failed. The front shock absorber was one of the few things we had not replaced for new and this failed as the seal had broken and it was leaking. The new dip switch (for main beam) also just fell apart during the MOT and so main beam could not be tested. The petrol tank was leaking, the rear brake lights did not work and there was too much play in the steering box. Looking at the petrol tank the old cork gasket had broken up under the sender unit, and on the brake switch, a metal lug had broken off so they wires were not contacting properly. Luckily these were all easy things to fix and after adjusting the steering box a little tighter and getting a new front shock absorber and a new dip switch (which this time was a genuine Reliant part and a much stronger casting) from Carwise Reliant Spares, all the items were fixed / replaced in just under 2 hours.
The car then went back for its MOT and this time sailed through with no problems at all. So with a new MOT certificate, Ole Blue is all set to hit the roads again through out 2007.