Every Underdog has its Day
Meet Car Facts Disc’s "Vehicle of the Month" for May - a unique Robin Reliant Mk3. When it comes to success stories this has to be one of the most fascinating.
Andy Plumb is not only the proud owner of this rare and iconic British classic, but he also designed the Mk3 Robin in 1997-8 and is the author of the award-winning book,
“Tipping Point – Designing a Great British Underdog”
Finished in an Orange influenced by Bond Bugs and McLaren, this Reliant Robin Mk3 is a one off model restored and owned by its designer.
Rescued from a very dilapidated state, and originally British Racing Green, this Robin SLX was originally sold in the year 2000 and was the top of the range costing £9000. Having been owned by an old man, it was used to go Foxing in the woods in Mid Wales.
The interior was also in a sorry state. With leaves in the headlining and everything rusty.
The body was removed, and the chassis replaced. Every item on the car has been restored or replaced down to the nuts and bolts. Improvements have been made where needed.
The engine was fully rebuilt, being ported and blueprinted with stronger valve springs. It is Reliant's own engine, a 4 cylinder 850cc unit. It was the first all-aluminium engine to be designed and manufactured in Europe. The exhaust is a custom 4 into 1 system. Power output has been increased by 20% for this car.
The body was fully repainted down to new primer in two-pack paint in Bond Bug and McLaren inspired orange. Everything was stripped out, and all panels removed.
Body and chassis were reunited with new stainless steel fixings.
The interior has been custom upholstered in Alcantara and quilted leather. The headlining is black Alcantara, and the seatbelts were custom made in orange. Quilted leather trims the engine cover, tunnel and rear storage area. The dashboard is custom made with an inclinometer and a bespoke Speedo.
The seats are custom upholstered Morgan seats from their latest Plus 4 range. They are leather covered and have lumbar adjustment. The headrests are Alcantara with custom insignia to match the exterior.
This Robin is a unique version of the very rare Mk3. Only 500 were ever produced between 1999 and 2001. Around 350 still exist. This example is owned by its designer Andy Plumb who designed the Mk3 Robin in 1997-8. It was featured in Octane Magazine's Man and Machine in 2021. The Robin Mk3 was the last vehicle Reliant ever produced in their 85 year history.
This Robin also features on the cover and inside the award winning book written by Andy Plumb about the design of this iconic vehicle. The book is called "Tipping Point- Designing a Great British Underdog" and is a 264 page full colour hardback insight into the clever Formula 1 style pioneering design and engineering that was employed in the 1960s when development work began through to 2001 with the last one made.
Winning the coveted Motoring Book of the Year (under £50) award from the Royal Automobile Club 2021, it was also Octane Magazine's Book of the Month for August 2021.
The Robin has been aerodynamically tested and stability tested for the book to qualify or disprove common myths. Every designer of the Robin from Tom Karen of Ogle to the owner of this car has contributed to the books contents, which feature a Preface by Patrick le Quement, Vice President of Design for Renault and design legend.
Design sketches, models and photos of the very last Robin are featured.
The Mk3 Robin was scanned using Photogrammetry and digitally surfaced by the author for the book to within 0.5mm so that the data could be used for aero testing and rendering.
This data was also used to design the body graphics for this car.
The Robin Mk3 is one of three 3-wheelers Andy has been on the design team for. The 2005 Volkswagen GX-3 show car and the 2022 Morgan Super3 are the other two. Andy was the Lead Digital Designer for the Morgan Super3.
This Robin and Andy exhibited on the Reliant Owners Club stand at the NEC Practical Classics show in 2021.
Both this Robin and the Morgan Super3 have been captured by 'Popbangcolour' for their artwork.
It has also been featured as a card for the Revs 'Garagistas' pack of Top-Trump style cards.
Finally, if you want to read Andy's book, "Tipping Point- Designing a Great British Underdog" it is available online at Amazon, Etsy, Ebay and Waterstones.