Reliants have always been engrained in my DNA. The little 3 wheeled cars could be driven on a motorcycle license in the UK, and subsequently My Mum had several before she passed her full driving test. She had had several Yamaha and Honda motorbikes before a huge accident stopped her riding days. Afterwards the need for cheap and accesible transport was pressing, and the little fibreglass bodied Reliant Robin and subsequent Rialto provided our family with the butt of many jokes, but also many miles of motoring memories.
Reliant’s 3 wheeled vehicles were often derided, and the appearance of a Regal Supervan on British comedy “Only Fools and Horses” did little to help their image. But the truth is the British car industry would not be the same without Reliant. At one point they were the second biggest car manufacturer in the UK behind Leyland and the largest producer of fiberglass in Europe in the 1970s. The firm made fiberglass parts for all manner of things from domestic appliances all the way through to train bodies and body panels for Ford’s RS200. Car production wasn’t limited to 3 wheeled vehicles either, and the company had great success with the Scimitar sports car. But we’re sticking to three wheeled vehicles with our Single File today.
The Reliant TW9 or “Ant” went into production in 1967. Powered by a range of small capacity inline 4 engines, the Ant proved to be a capable and hard working little truck. Sold often as just a cab and chassis combination, the Ant could be equipped for almost any job and quickly found many buyers among the many Municipal Councils across Great Britain. As well as a pickup truck bed and delivery box body, the Ant could be fitted out as a snow plow, refuse collector, water tanker, street vacuum and even as an articulated tractor unit. over 1800 were sold, and the truck was also built under license by MEBEA in Greece, who continued to produce vehicles until 1995, 8 years after UK production ended in 1987.
The Corgi version replicates a pick up Ant, and was part of the Corgi Juniors “Whizz Wheels” range. Excluding the axles and wheels, there are only three parts to the model: chassis, body and window piece. The model lacks an interior and the rest of the construction is very simple but yet incredibly effective. The panel lines, door handles and hinges are all there and there are are some moldings on the chassis for the fuel tank and exhaust on the chassis, but that’s about it.
The skinny little wheels and orange paint work really well, and the finish on my play worn example brings to mind the more worn MEBEA Ants that can still be seen in rural Greece.
It’s a cool little model, and even though my Mother never owned a TW9, it conjures up many fond memories.
(Find the Corgi Juniors Reliant TW9 on Ebay)