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The “Reliant” and the Reliant Regent (1935 - 1956)

In 1934 the Raleigh Cycle Company decided to discontinue the manufacture of their 3-wheeled vehicles and their Works Manager; T.L. Williams disagreed that 3-wheelers had a poor future and after being joined by Mr Thompson (also from Raleigh) they decided to build their own vehicle in William's back garden at Kettlebrook, Tamworth. The design closely resembled the Raleigh Karryall van and the the first Reliant prototype was licensed in January 1935..  The first Reliant was a 7 cwt van which had a steel chassis and a hardwood frame with aluminium panels attached to it.  It is said that as Williams had used many Raleigh parts, some of them were stamped with the letter R and so the name Reliant was conceived to match the initial.

On June 3rd 1935, the first 'Reliant' was delivered and was powered by a single cylinder air cooled 600cc JAP engine.  Unlike later Reliants the driver sat in the middle of the vehicle astride the engine.  The vehicle however was underpowered and as a result was up rated in March 1936 to a twin cylinder water-cooled J.A.P. engine with an 8 cwt vehicle. In this Reliant seating had also been changed to a more conventional side by side seating in the front.  The first twin cylinder model was delivered on March 16th 1936.

In 1938 Reliant started to use the four-cylinder 7 hp Austin Engine with the first Austin engined Reliant being delivered on March 12th 1938. Shortly afterwards Austin announced that they planned to stop the production of this engine. Austin were happy for Reliant to copy their engine and so it was decided that Reliant would manufacture their own engine, which was completed in September 1939.  The engine was Reliant’s first engine and was a 747cc side-valve unit producing 14 bhp at 3,500 rpm.

With the onset of the Second World War Reliant turned to machining parts for the war effort and continued to build 3-wheelers afterwards with a slightly modified van called the Reliant Regent, the first one being completed on March 13th 1946.

By the 1950s the capacity of the Regent had increased to 10 cwt and was equipped with a  few more luxuries that included sliding windows in the doors rather than canvas side screens. A larger 12 cwt Regent and Prince Regent was also produced. Production of the Regent continued alongside Reliant’s first 3-wheeled car the Reliant Regal, that was introduced in 1953. The Regent was eventually replaced by the Reliant Regal Mk II 5cwt van in 1956.

1935 Reliant 7cwt van

1949 Reliant 8cwt van

1952 Reliant Regent


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