Saturday, 28 August 2010

Rock Robin...



I've only ever driven a Reliant Robin once. It was round about 1966, and the little car was owned by a chum who's dad owned a garage near Hastings. Generous (and actually a great chap to boot), dad had bought him one when he'd just turned seventeen. You could apparently drive one on a provisional licence, with passengers, back in those heady days.

It was bright blue, had a straight through exhaust, (very rorty that...), and had a clutch which required you to start off in third gear, otherwise it leap-frogged for about 100 yards and seriously hurt various passengers who were trying to light a Gold Leaf in the back. Meccano Sagtrouser would have been mortified, but there again, Old Elias always said he was a bit of a dreamer...

Reading this article, reminded me of a time a few years later, when I lived on the extreme west boundary of Chelsea, (opposite 'Nick's Diner' in Ifield Road, for anyone who knows the area well, and is as old as me), and one of the Aussies, who stayed for more than 24 hours, was in advertising.

Roger G. worked for one of the most prestigious firms around then, Bloxhams, and ran the Reliant account. Rog was the other party in Scrobs passim accounts of friendly Aussies coming over and using our flat as a stop-over and also a place where they could re-light their connections with most of the girls who also arrived about the same time. There were regular trips to Tamworth, and he could do these in about the same time as the average sports car back then.

We often cruised down Kings Road, parking near 'The Essoldo', or outside 'The Great American Disaster', and looking around for all the admiring gazes. Three wheelers of this ilk were definitely OK back then! You got in the car by lifting the whole roof up and forward, and the seats had no adjustment, so that was that as far as comfort was concerned. Acceleration was pretty brisk, and the local Mini Cooper S brigade had some soul-searching to do when 'Sod' sailed into view...

The square back of the car had a logo which I'll never forget: -
'Bloxhams' Executive Jet'!

9 comments:

rvi said...

Scrobs: Your link appears (on my computer anyway) to be not working properly.

I recall several odd little cars appearing in the mid 60s - the Renault Dauphine for example - but far and away my most terrifying ride was when being driven at a rate of knots up Tooting High Street in one of these by a very angry mate who had just been dumped by his girlfriend. A different sort of hot pants were also in fashion at around that time too!!

Electro-Kevin said...

We dropped a friend's ma and pa off at the airport and had the Robin for the week ... our first experience of teenage motoring freedom.

He looked at me with glee, clapped hands, shoved it into reverse ... backed into a concrete pillar and split the back end of the car in two.

The rest of the week was spent getting it repaired and paying for it.

Scrobs... said...

Reevers, sorry about that - solved issues now!

The Dauphine was a regular at Brands Hatch in the fifties and early sixties too!

Those Messerscmidts were great cars! I saw one recently, and the sound was unmistakable too! D'you remember the Gogomobile too?

Right about the hot pants too BTW...

Scrobs... said...

Elecs, marvellous! Araldite all round I'd say!

I had about a square yard of filler and fibreglass all over the floor of our Fiat 500, and it passed its MOT three years on the trot...

I can juts imagine your faces though...

The Lakelander said...

There were a couple of brothers in my school who both played in the scrum...second row and and number eight.

Nope....neither were anorexics....

Brother number eight owned a Bond Bug and by all accounts the two of them managed to get it onto its side at least once a month.

Philipa said...

In my experience Reliant robins were popular amongst bikers and poor people. You could drive one on a provisional car licence or a bike licence maybe? So when biker dad went anywhere with his famille they would go in the pig. I was chauferred somewhere by my friends dad in their pig and was a little nervous as he threw this fibreglass thing around. Your friends sporty version sounds like great fun. They made a car too I think, the Scimitar GTE.

Scrobs... said...

Lakes, they weren't the two from your Hall of Fame were they...?

I'd have thought it would be pretty difficult to roll one of those Bugs though, they were very low down!

At least they were when I used to have to crawl out at knee height, much to the laughter of all the gorgeous Chelsea somethings way back then...

Scrobs... said...

Pips, I'm sure you (as I would have been), were grateful for a lift at any time if the alternative was tottering along in your Mary Quants... ;0)

And yes, 'Sod' often had the Scimitar until it was besmirched by being associated with Princess Anne, after which, they became unfashionable in the extreme!

I'm sure it had something to do with her hair style...

Philipa said...

Yes I was quite looking forward to the experience, Scrobs. But I became slightly unnerved when they went on two wheels round corners and no-one thought this unusual.