A LOVINGLY restored Reliant Robin is to make a 1500-mile round trip to take its owner to watch the ultimate endurance road race.
Chris Miller will be taking the three-wheeled car – made famous by Only Fools and Horses’ Del Boy – to the 24-hour Le Mans race in France.
And he hopes the car, which once belonged to his grandfather, lives up to its name as he travels to see the showpiece event, dubbed the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency.
Window cleaner Chris, from Tranent, said: “I remember my grandad flying round corners in this, with a cigarette clasped between his teeth. It’s amazing he didn’t topple over, especially considering there would usually be four of us in the back! Everyone around here knew him because of this car.”
The vehicle has been in storage for over a decade, but 29-year-old Chris is confident he can have it back on the road for June 2 – 11 years to the day since his grandfather passed away.
“The work on the car has felt never-ending and I’ve easily spent between £1500-£2000. The suspension was gone, the roof needed replaced after a barn roof caved in on top of it during the really bad snow a few years back and the engine has been replaced twice – but I’m determined it will be ready in time.”
He added: “I’m being sponsored for the drive and all the money is going towards the Sick Kids. The daughter of a friend of mine is currently in remission from cancer and it really made me want to help out other families in that situation.
He will be leaving wife Susanne and daughters Hannah, ten, and Iona, seven, behind on his pilgrimage. But he will not be alone on the trip, as a second team will be accompanying him.
Chris and his friend, Thomas Horsburgh, 37, will be taking the Robin while father and son team Robert and Nicol Benn will be in a restored 1968 Fiat 500 estate.
Chris added: “It’s good that we’ll have Robert and Nicol, along with their car too in case we have a breakdown!”
Nicol, 21, had originally planned to take the trip with his dad last year, but everything had to be put on hold when the then 19-year-old made the shock discovery that he was suffering from testicular cancer. One year, an operation and three cycles of chemotherapy later he has a clean bill of health – but can’t say the same for the Fiat...
He said: “My dad’s had the car for over 30 years and it’s been all over the world, but hasn’t been on the road since the 90s. It looks all right on the outside, but there’s a lot still needing done.”
THE three-wheeled Reliant Robin was first manufactured in 1973 by the Reliant Motor Company in Tamworth, England, with production continuing until 1981, when the model was replaced by the restyled Reliant Rialto.
The single wheel in the front steers, while the engine (also in the front) drives the rear axle.
Holders of a B1 driving licence are legally allowed to drive Reliant Robins due to their mass and the fact that they have three wheels, saving £55 a year more than those driving a conventional car.
According to a survey in 2011 by comparison website Confused.com, Reliant Robin drivers are the safest in Britain, with only 11 out of 1174 owners submitting an insurance claim in the previous five years.