In a world dominated with books on prestigious sports cars it is always refreshing to find something that bucks the trend and John Wilson-Hall’s book, Reliant Three-Wheelers The Complete Story is such a book. As detailed by the title the book covers the complete history of the Reliant 3-wheeler in a single volume from when the first nut and bolt was put in place right up until the doors were bolted for the last time. In fact it goes one step further with a history that starts in 1890 as it follows the birth of Reliant’s founder Tom Williams giving a unique glimpse into Williams’ life. It explains how Williams’ previous career turned a youngster who worked as a trainee in civil and surveying engineering for Nuneaton Council into a man who created one of the largest motor companies in the UK.
The Reliant Three-Wheeler has for many years been the butt of many jokes and yet its fascinating history is one of continuous development and ingenuity. The book covers each of the major models with detail with numerous pictures illustrating these along the way. One thing I especially liked about the book is that it is littered with “pop ups”, little snippets of information throughout the book self-contained within its own little boundaries that offer valuable insights to subjects related to the main text though perhaps not in the same context.
The book is not just a straight forward historical account and offers more about the Reliant as the reader travels further into its pages with sections (amongst others) on various journeys made by Reliant vehicles including the infamous Scandinavian and Sahara Desert trips made by a Reliant Regal 3/25 in 1963. Perhaps one aspect often under looked in other books on the subject is the Reliant Owners Club itself. The final chapter offers a history of the club and also discusses the age old question of do Reliant three-wheelers really tip over as easily as programs like Top Gear would have us believe.
All in all this is an enjoyable book and for the price one that is highly recommended.
Official Description from The Crowood Press:
Despite a reputation for being eccentric and dangerous, Reliant three-wheelers are ever-present in the classic car scene and are now seen as icons of British popular culture. Reliant Three-Wheelers - The Complete Story charts the development of these much-loved cars from 1935 onwards.
•Origins of Reliant and the girder fork Light Delivery Van in the 1930s
•Post-war passenger cars and the groundbreaking fibreglass body of the Mark 3 Regal
•Development and production of the Regal, Robin, Bond Bug and Rialto
•Reliant under new ownership and the redesigned BN Robins
•Reliant three-wheelers in popular culture
•The Reliant Owners' Club