Reliant Regal (1962 – 1973) Review

Reliant Regal (1962 – 1973) At A Glance


+A bit of a cultural icon, cheap to run, buy and fuel

-Scary at speed, tends to tip over

Thanks to the comedy TV series, Only Fools and Horses, the three-wheel Reliant Regal became a national institution. However, the first generation of that car appeared in 1951, and was a very different looking beast. The beauty of Reliant's Regal was that it could be driven on a bike licence, as it was officially classed as a tricycle, and yet it offered car- (and even van-) like passenger and load carrying capabilities.

When the bubble-shaped Regal appeared in 1951, it was crudely built using a pressed-steel chassis, with semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear and a single torsion bar and stub axle arrangement for the single front wheel. Powered by a 747cc Austin Seven-derived engine, it was surprisingly nippy thanks to its low weight.

Effective hydraulic brakes and a four-speed gearbox added some modernity to the package, and early models had aluminum bodywork attached to an ash frame, only gaining glass fibre bodywork for the second series, which was launched in 1962.

When that car appeared it was powered by an all-new 592cc alloy engine, designed by Reliant and loosely based on the old Austin Seven unit. Saloon versions featured a Ford Anglia 105E-style reverse rake rear window. The Regal stayed in production until 1973 when the Robin – which remained in production until 2001 despite a 1980s rename to Rialto – replaced it.