Sadly, I woke up today to the news of the disappearance of Del Boy, from the "Only fools and horses" show. Altough back in Portugal we did have a massive broadcast of english shows, I could only had a go watching this show thanks to the courtesy of the "Mail on Sunday"free DVDs.
As we all are aware of, Del Boy used to drive the most famous Reliant of all, the yellow regal van. So famous,that it fetched recently an huge amount of money in an auction, around 44 grand!
A big departure from the average low prices paid for a normal "plastic pig".
"Plastic pig", is a rather sad and unfair designation for a vehicle that endeavoured the task of providing car transportation for the average motorbike license holder. A fair and honest attempt to motorise the average citizen , that could not afford a proper car. We should respect it for that.
Although the show did put Reliant on the enthusiast map, it started a trend on painting every single Robin yellow, with the " New York,Paris, Whatever" written on its pannels. That eventually worn the overall image of the model, and contributed towards the lack of respect and interest on the little three wheeler. Mr Bean, did some harm, by refusing to have a lift kindly offered by a passer-by.
I find very amusing driving a Reliant Robin. The first time I drove one, was during a test drive for a Portuguese magazine . The sheer confined space , and the roaring vibrating the dash, the feeling of driving a soap in a bathtub, the creeking fiberglass and the " British Leyland feeling" throughout the car, made this the ideal counterpart of the french 2 CV,as far as amusement while driving concerns. The "mini" noise, pushing that wheel towards any direction except the one chosen, and the three point turn turned "eight point turn", made the exercise of driving one a very awkward and unforgettable experience.
My reflex on the shop windows, as I paciently stroll arround the busy one way system, would resemble as if I was aboard a wingless Cessna. I tried to look the more british possible, but somehow the grin in my face was a telltale that I was a first timer. Nevertheless, I felt privileged for having the possibility to drive such...er...device.
The last models of the Robin, Rialto facelifts, were a dreadful image of an agonising english industry. The falling demand for a car still built by hand labour, and the "keeping up for the jones`" trend, send the Reliant to the great heaven of cars no longer manufactured.
I would like to think that , slowly, the Reliant will be rescued from a doomed condition of an old disposable car, and finnaly would take his place among the fellow automotive counterparts that had an important role in the History, making it possible to simple people to dare dream with a car.
Our mood and hopes would be largely improved by that.