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The “Real” Model - Part 23: June 2008 (Page 1 of 1)

The Final Chapter.

Last month I sadly reported that Ole Blue had been destroyed in a fire. Despite the loss I tried to keep Ole Blue’s remains so that perhaps, from the ashes, a phoenix could rise and I could rebuild Ole Blue. After the fire the chassis seemed to be intact and I approached the insurance numerous times to try and get it back but they said as Ole Blue was a “Class A” write off the chassis would have to be destroyed.

Other people also mentioned that this was probably for the best as the chassis, or more specifically the welds at the joins, could have been weakened by the fire - and so Ole Blue will be laid to rest - although never forgotten as she will still live on through the models, the “How to restore Reliant Regal” book and more specifically this web site.

After seeing last month’s update on Ole Blue, Terry O’Keeffe contacted me and has donated his Regal Supervan (Snoopy) to replace Ole Blue. Ole Blue however was unique and so whilst Snoopy will become the new vehicle she will continue to be called Snoopy and remain its original colour. That way Ole Blue will always be unique.

The last ever photo of Ole Blue before the fire. On my way to the 50th Reliant National Rally, I joined up with my brother driving Old Red and he gave me his camera asking if I’d take a photo. About 30 minutes after this shot Ole Blue burst into flames.


My thanks to Daniel Rodd for this “You Tube” tribute to Ole Blue.

The messages and offers of help that have been coming in since Ole Blue passed away have been amazing. I use the words “passed away” as from the messages it really seems as though Ole Blue was a person that found her way into many people’s lives. To everyone who sent a message and offered help to rebuild another car, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Uncle Frank

I just saw the item about Ole Blue.  Our condolences.

Veloce Publishing

Elvis, That's terrible news after all that hard work

Chris Sell

"Hi Elvis, Uncle Frank in California sent me the photos of Ole Blue, I'm so sorry.

I know how these cars get under your skin, well they have mine & i didn't write a book about them. I'm guessing you will be on the hunt for a new project?"

My thanks go to the R3W forum for being able to reproduce the following messages:


Im really sorry to read that Elvis and my heart goes out to you. I cant imagine how I would feel in circumstances like this.

Im sure there are plenty of members here that can help you out and if you need any thing please feel free to shout.

Why not keep the spirit alive of Old Blue by creating a trophy that could be handed out at the National for a class like Concours Regal or Best Reliant Regal restoration Etc?

Old Blue probably helped a fair few out with the book you produced and will continue to be a help in the future so I guees all is not lost .

On another positive Im going out tommorow and am going to Buy a new extinquisher and perhaps its something we should all do!


Gutted one is. Where was the force when one needed it? Oh the bleeding heart, tears and feeling of lost.

R.I.P Ole Blue. There will never be another like you. Rest easy in Reliant heaven old friend.


Some dramatic pictures there, its so hard to believe thats happened, that is a real shocker, I could`nt even imagine what you feel at this time, my thoughts are with you at this time.


I'm absolutely stunned
What a terrible loss of the ambassador for all Reliants, I can't imagine how your feeling.

I am glad that nobody was hurt, It doesnt bear thinking about if you'd still been driving the road....................


Sorry to hear and see that.
At last you are all well, if not happy...
Other than that, Im speechless........................................ ..............

kevins reliant

Sorry to here that elvis its a shame thats happened Rest in Peace Old Blue


Sorry for you Elvis.

It breaks my heart to see the remains of Ole Blue.


I couldn't help but cry over the images of the wee van, taken as the flames took hold.
Beyond that I really don't know what to feel. No Human life was taken, but if that were to happen to mine, I'd want to be in it at the time 'cos I don't think I'm made of the tough sort of stuff that could stand by and take pictures of the loss of something that represents so much time, effort and enthusiasm.

You have my heartfelt sympathy.


Just one word. DAMN!

At least you are both safe, that's the important thing to remember.


I was shocked, stunned and devastated when I heard the terrible news. Thank goodness you were both unhurt (physically) but the mental anguish will take a while to ease.

a hot’n

Thank god no one was hurt.

It must be like losing a member of the family.

It must have also taken superhuman strength on your part to take those photo's resulting in memories you'd rather not have.

I hope that your presence of mind in taking and subsequently publishing those dramatic pictures will serve a useful purpose by way of a solumn warning to all owners of vehicles and particularly those constructed from glassfibre just how quickly fire can take hold.

You probably don't want to plan things at the moment but it might be worth considering retaining Ole Blues registration number, I'm sure it won't be long before you do start another project and it would be nice to keep a link and the memory alive.


What can I say, this really sucks. Others would say it's just a car but most Reliant enthousiasts know a Reliant is special.

Glad you are all okay!


very, very sorry and what more can i say? was it old blue that you was taking on the polar trip?let me know


Heartbreaking, mate, heartbreaking!


Mark and I are absolutly gutted over Ole Blue, The pictures bring a tear to our eyes, as we all have models of this car and the book takes pride of place in our collection.

I was glad to hear though that both you and Caroline got out the car safe and unarmed.


I'm sad for you Elvis, and glad you are both intact. Geoff told me the news at the rally. Ole Blue, and indeed many very personal vehicles, are not "just cars" when you put so much into them. I do hope we will see another project standing proudly on 3 wheels before long.




Elvis, I am most saddened at the loss of Old Blue. I followed it's restoration on your website with great interest always looking forward to the next thrilling instalment.
I am pleased that no one was injured, and i feel your loss. If you had it insured under a classic car insurance scheme which usually is very different to the insurance on your daily runner
and depending on the obvious small print. You might find that even if the vehicle is a total loss it still remains yours after payment of the claim, so worth checking out. I don't think that this will be the end for Old Blue because you are a true enthusiast, I think that you will recover and once again will come shining through.


Elvis, it was tragic seeing those very descriptive photos ... i feel for you ... commiserations ......
First thing i`m going to do is replace the fuel lines in Lawrence and Rattie with copper tube and have proper unions to tank and carb, seems to be a lot of plastic pipes splitting .... or joints to tank or carb ... a lesson to all of us !!!

French Bug

HI Elvis
Saw the bad news on the bug forum.
That's just a pig, isn't it...
I'm afraid that heat generated by the fire has destroyed everything, even the leftovers. the chassis of the car may look reuseable, but heat will have cooked it totally unfortunately... Good Luck


Bu**er. thats scary stuff! i feel for you! im now even more tempted to get a plumbed in extinguisher.

with regards to fuel line - the black plastic stuff is horrid. i have been saying it for ages. its bad enough when your trying to put the rubber stuff onto it and the ends spliting, so your cutting it back further and further... im unsure about using rubber line the full length of the car, as this generally has a shelf life of even less than the black plastic stuff before it starts to look perished, and it doesnt seem right to run it all in rubber - its not how its meant to be used. i recomend copper lines, and use as little rubber as possible. small bore copper heating pipe (8mm, not 10) is perfect and i know plenty of people including my self that have been usng it for ages, and p clips for it are all over ebay. (i think the pipes no more than a 10-15 for enough to go un n down your reliant 3 times!) i think brake line would be far too small!

unfortunatly, i have to agree with french bug, by all means strip it and inspect it, but the head of fires does strange things to even the steel bits. a good example of this is when you put an old bean can on the fire at scout camp. the next morning you can crush it with relative ease despite it appearing the same - or when they pick up burn out cars with a hi-ab - the roofs fold up compared to a normal car that will keep most of its shape. however, i do feel that it should live on and you definatly need to find out what condition the chassis is in before you start.

its a dreadful shame! i can feel for you knowing the work that goes into somthing to get it to that standard.


elvis,i was shocked when i saw this thread.
what a terrible thing to happen.
glad you and your girlfriend are all ok.
thinking of you and your great car that inspired so many.


That is properly $#it fortune. Sorry and saddend to see that. I am upset about your car so can't imagine how you must be feeling. Hopefully the insurance claim will be settled without any problems and you will be well compensated for the loss of Ole' Blue.

I have heard about Regals burning but never seen. They certainly seem to go up much faster than a Rialto. Were you on a mechanical or electric fuel pump? I hope that I dont seem to be asking insensitive questions but I am trying to deduce what might have gone so wrong.

With that in mind, I think that I might look into a built in extinguisher system in the engine bay of my Regal as I rebuild. Has anyone else got this facility built in. Can't be that difficult surely.

With regards the pop, Ive had that before - like a small explosion into the air filter. As you will notice, the float chamber on the Zenith is open into the air filter. I expect if it has overflowed, the air filter will have acted like a wick. Maybe it might be prudent on these carbs to fit a spout into the float chamber and a pipe out to the wing to get any overspill clear of the engine block. I suppose if the engine bay is full of fuel vapor, something like a spark from the dynamo, solonoid or even the flasher unit or switches on the bulkhead could ignight it under the right conditions.


Elvis.. I cant say any more than whats already been said. All i can say is that im proud to have met Ole Blue in person.

If you need any help with re-building her, and you think i can be of any assistance at all, just give me a shout. My trade is Laser cutting, but also have many contacts for virtually any engineering process. Milling, turning, fabricating etc.. Also contacts for powder coating, painting, plating etc..


Im just speechless. When i was told at the rally i couldnt say anything, just wished that you and caroline were both safe. I may have a regal van body which is useable. The chassis will be rotten but your should be useable. I also have lots of bits to help you restart the rebuild. Just drop me a PM if you need anything


I too shed a tear when I saw those photo's.
I can't begin to imagine how you must be feeling.
Ole Blue will be sadly missed.
I would be more than happy to lend a hand and any spare parts.

I was really gutted when I read the first post from Elvis and saw the sad demise of such an iconic car. I was inspired by what I saw of the work involved in the restoration.

I know whatever Elvis decides to do a far as a replacement for "Ole Blue" he will have the support of everyone on the forum.


I don't know the fuel mix in the UK but in the US the gasoline just EATS hoses! Hose Manufactures try to stay one step ahead but there are still fires like this.

Along with everyone here I am glad no one was hurt.

Copper lines address the chemical problem but are subject to stress cracks from vibration.

Best is replace the line with hew stuff one a year same time you flush the brake system.

It's sad to see such a long time fixture of the 3-wheel world gone.

If only I lived closer. I'd be happy to help make new lines for all of you.


We are all sorry to hear this has happened, it must have been hard to watch your pride vanish in front of you, as when me and my dad went upside down in the Bug, i was expecting it to catch fire due to it having a full tank of petrol, R.I.P Ole Blue

Ole Blue is the king of Reliant's as Elvis is the king of Rock 'n Roll
When Elvis passed on, his death affected alot of people, as has Ole Blue.

PaTu 1960


Daniel Rodd

Hearing about it at the rally was one thing,seeing those pictures has actually made me crymy heart goes out to you Elvis and im sure that somehow,sometime,Ole Blue will live again,and im sure that we will do all we can to make it happen.

Ole Blue 1972-2008 R.I.P


Gutted to have read your news Elvis. You must be shell shocked. Just pleased that you and Caroline weren't injured. Like the others I hope we can see a phoenix Ole Blue at future meets.


Hi Elvis,

Sorry about old blue, but very relieved you and Caroline are ok.
I got quite emotional when Pete rang me from the motorway to tell me the tragic news, but reading your graphic description of the event and seeing your heartbreaking pics i was near to tears. I completely understand Carolines feeling about not wanting a Reliant now, i drive Bewdy everyday and seeing what has happened to you has made me very nervous indeed.
Big hugs to you both


hi elvis,

We were really shocked and sad to hear the news. I was looking forward to finally meeting Ole Blue as your book was the thing that made us decide we could tackle a regal restoration ourselves. Perhaps there's some comfort in the knowledge that your van has saved other regals from the race track or scrap heap.

I think there are lessons for us to learn from your tragedy. I see that people are posting questions about fuel lines now and Geoff was advising me on a certain type of fire extinguisher to carry in the car. If people can advise us novice regal owners on ways to avoid this terrible situation then that would be a positive outcome from this awful event.

Best wishes to you


having just got back from the rally ive just read the post iwas stood with pete when he got the phone call and my heart sank we all know how much work you put in to her
we sit now waiting for the old blue phoenix and wish you all the best and good luck


Gob-smacked and in mourning

Some legends are destined to meet an early end.
But take some solice in the fact that she not only lives on in print, but also in the garages, sheds and lock-ups of the many Reliant enthusiasts who were inspired by ol' Blue to restore one of these classic examples of British automotive eccentricity and practicality.
Her work was done. But in one last and magnificently unselfish gesture, she highlighted a life-threatening danger. So not only has she indirectly saved many a Reliant from the scrapheap or banger track, she may even save lives.

I know that I for one, will heed the advice regarding the petrol lines and carry an extinguisher.


Terrible news Elvis. Like everybody on the Forum, I'm just relieved that Caroline and you escaped safely.


Hi Elvis,

Sooooo sorry to hear about ole blue!!! When I started reading the thread, I was really hoping it was some sort of wind up and thought this can't be true!!

I know how much the car meant to you, especially with all the time and effort you and Geoff put into her. I've got friends that always say to me "why worry, it's only a car", little do they realise how much we become attached to our cars that seem to have their own characters.

Thank goodness that you and Caroline escaped without harm.

I wish you the very best


Elvis and Geoff im gutted for both of you, having spoken to Geoff and the nat I know how upset he is. I coudnt imagen loosing any of my cars to fire let alone one I had rebuilt from the ground up. It must be heartbraking.

Seeing the pictures makes it seem more real. Thank the lord both you and Caroline are safe and uninjured. I know Old Blue will return in some for or another.

Not Realy anything more I can say other than whats been said already.


Hi all I know I never owned the car but I still feel like I have lost a friend with Ole Blue, I tried so hard to save her but when the fuel line ruptured it just kept puring fuel on to the fire. At one point at the start of the fire we got it out and then pushed the car back away from the fire on the ground not realizing that the fuel line by now was broken. It was then the fuel that ran down the motor way to the fire on the ground and then with a flash Ole blue went up. I really did try hard to save her even to the point of trying to push her over to sever the fuel line that was feeding the fire but the armco (safety Barrier) was stopping her from going all the way over. Then Elvis said she has gone we need to get the stuff out and all we could do was grab the cameras to record her last moments.

I thank Old Red for saving my brothers life as just before the fire Old Red was motoring along at a Sat Nav speed of 47mph then she just died. At this point when we stopped Ole Blue went up. All that had happened to Old Red was the points had moved if this had not of happened then I don't think it's worth thinking of.

The extinguisher that Elvis had was the standard car type, these are useless in any but the smallest fires. If people want to fit one to there cars then I recommend getting an AFFF type, these are used in motor sport and will put out any type of fire a 2 litre size is recommended though a 1 litre will still be a big help. Also don't fit and for get them get them checked once a year by fire safety people.

On a finally note I want to thank all the wonderful Reliant people for supporting my big brother, Not only have we received lots of offers of bits to help Ole Blue Phoenix the ROC members had a whip round and have raised 78 for Elvis.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart


Heart breaking seeing the pictures and reading the terrible tale of Ole Blues last dying moments The reality really does hit home, as it wouldn't really register when I heard the news at the rally, I would be mortified if my SS1 went up in flames.

Recover whats left, lock it away and come back to it another day. Whilst I don't doubt you will be behind the wheel of a blue Regal Supervan once more, do so when you're ready.


Elvis, Geoff and Caroline,
My thoughts are with you at this time follwing the terrible tragedy. A great relief to hear that no-one was physically hurt. I was so shocked when Dee told me what had happened and have to admit to a lump in the throat when Geoff showed me Old Blue's last moments.

I hope that you will be encouraged by all the positive comments and suggestions that people have made and that Old Blue Phoenix will rise from the ashes. If I can be of any help do not hesitate to contact me.

The events have certain brought an acute awareness amongst Reliant owners and also owners of ANY other car as to the dangers of car fires. I carry a fire extinguisher in all my Reliants but your experience has made me reconsider their likely suitability to do the job intended if the worst should happen, so I and I expect many others will look into larger potentially more efective extinguishers.

It has also made me more wary of any untoward smells when driving and also the resolution to change the carburettor in the Kitten to SU type that has the overflow pipe to a bowl out of harm's way as in the Rialto, later Robin and Fox.

One again my thoughts are with you, I know the memory will remain but hopefully you are able to look positively to the future rebirth of Old Blue.

steven broomhall

Only just seen this and I too felt a bit tearful at those awful photos.
A terrible loss..


a sad day Elvis for you and everyone who knew Ole Blue.

help is on hand as always if required for the odd part if I've got or can obtain it for you.


Sorry to hear about Ole Blue Elvis. I hope you can take something positive away from this devastating experience.


Gut wrenching photos. Quite stunned. I'm glad you are all ok. Amazing courage shown by Geoff, picking up a car on fire.
How about a car built/restored from parts donated by members? I'm sure that between us we have virtually all bits needed hidden away!
Will certainly be checking AUA's fuel lines.


Sorry to hear your terrible news elvis, ole blue was the reason i became a reliant owner after reading all about the restoration, so i can not imagine how you feel. I only have a few spare parts (an useable back box (rialto) and a couple of wheels) but their yours if needed and if everyone donated something then the pheonix could rise.


I'm so sorry Elvis. I'm sat here in tears...

Thank you to everyone and indeed to those whos messages I have not mentioned. For as long as is online, Ole Bue will always be a part of it.

Elvis Payne.

June 2008.