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The “Real” Model - Part 2: February 2004 (Page 1 of 2)

The 7th February arrived and my brother and I complete with a hired 12 feet x 6 feet van trailer set off at 8am and arrived at 10:30am in Penistone to pick up John and then we continued up to Brighouse to collect the Reliant. When we arrived at Brighouse the first thing we noticed was how strong the wind was, quite literally it was breathtaking and I hoped the roof of the trailer wouldn’t suddenly take off.

As we walked into the driveway, the moment I saw the Regal, I just looked and smiled. The fact that I now had one was great but the thought of restoring it was quite exciting. Looking at the driveway, it seemed as though the Regal has been in this same spot, for the 24 years it had been off the road. Rain, sleet and snow had all washed off the car leaving its imprint on the ground. When the Regal was moved and pushed into the trailer you could see where it had been sitting, staring mindlessly at the garage door infront if it.

With the Regal safely on board, the paperwork was signed, money exchanged, and I gave the folks model number 358 so that they could see how the van would look when it was restored.  Checking once more that the Reliant was firmly secured my brother and I set off back home, dropping John off at Penistone. The journey was long and at an average of 50mph slow, but we didn’t care.  The contents of the trailer made the task a pleasurable one.

By the time we got home night had descended and the chance of tinkering with the car looked bleak. As we opened the trailer we saw that the Reliant had moved slightly to the left but sat totally secure until my brother removed the cables holding it.  With time for a camera pose as the van was rolled out of the trailer it sat in the cold night air wondering where on Earth it was.

Eager to get started my brother immediately pulls out a fully charged battery, jump leads, water and petrol from his car as we set about the task of trying to start her up.  Sadly it wasn’t to be, whilst the engine was free enough the solenoid and starter were both jammed and refused to participate.  As we tried to power up the electric’s the ignition light momentarily shone whilst my brother shouted in excitement, “the headlamps working”. Sitting inside the car I shout, “where?” and he replies, “where do you think the headlamp is - at the front of the car”. Instantly leaping outside the car I run around to the front and the driver’s side headlamp flickers before dimming and fading away like a machine drained of its power. Despite several attempts at trying to fire up the engine the car did not want to play. It was tried and had been cooped up inside a trailer for several hours and so just wanted to be left alone. Therefore locking up for the night we went indoors and was greeted with a superb Shepherds pie that my girlfriend, Sue, had been cooking for us.

The next morning we eagerly raced outside to see the car in the day light and closer inspection of the wiring suggested that perhaps it would be best to rewire the car. As I think of the task this involves my brother assures me that its not a bad a job as it sounds. .

Armed with my camera I take a number of photos from all around and inside the vehicle so that I have a record of how she was. Then grabbing a bucket of warm water and a sponge I gave the car a good scrubbing down and watched years of dirt fade away to reveal a suprisngly clean body. Whilst the photo above makes the vehicle look really clean what you can’t see is numerous cracks and marks in the body. Looking at the speedo the car has only done 32,364 miles from new (unless of course the car has been round the clock in 7 years) and so whilst the engine will require cleaning we are hoping it will not require a rebuild. The chassis is rusty but absolutely solid and so should be easily treated. Things like the starter motor and carburetor however will need to be stripped down.  The wiring also needs to be replaced and the body repaired and painted.  Inside the vehicle is pretty intact and apart from sagging seats just requires a good wash.

The Regal has been parked in this same spot for 24 years.

The Regal’s first glance at its new home.

My brother flexes his muscles as the Regal gingerly rolls out. (hmm sure thats not all padding Geoff?)

Shell shocked from its journey the Regal ponders where it is.

24 years of dirt washed away makes a great transformation but this photo does make the car look much better than it is.

The vehicle was registered on Monday 4th January 1973 which was Reliant’s first day back after the 1972 New Year. This means unless it was built and sold in 1 day, which is highly unlikely, that the vehicle was constructed in 1972.  Both Kerry Croxton from the Telford branch of the Reliant Owner’s Club and Bob Neale; the Reliant Owners Club historian, confirm that my engine number (167516) and chassis number (729990) were both made in 1972.  In the UK this makes the vehicle eligible for tax exemption and it means should I wish the vehicle can carry the old style black number plates.

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