Schoolhouse Rock once espoused that three is a magic number. And while that hipster edutainment series never expanded the concept past basic math, today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Reliant can, because it's magically threelicious.
Fake, phony, poseur, fraud, gonif; all good choices for vanity plates to be affixed to yesterday's McBurnie Daytona, which, while it was very obviously a reproduction, had a price which garnered it a very real 60% Crack Pipe vote. That result may not sit well with Sonny Crockett, but at least his plastic poseur had four wheels, as today's tippy canoe has but three.
Only recently shuttered, the Reliant Motor Company had been building
tax dodges three wheelers ever since the 1930s. The British government's road tax didn't apply to them, and like purchasers of day-old sushi, their owners were willing to put savings ahead of safety. What started out as the Raleigh, evolved into the Regal, the Robin, and then the Rialto. . . and then the Robin again. And each and every one of them had two wheels in back and a single doughnut up front. That's not too unusual a layout, but the engine placement in the Reliant is somewhat odd. Instead of hunkering down between the rear wheels so as to provide as low a center of gravity as possible, the Reliant puts its engine up front, making it as top heavy as a Page 3 Girl.
The results of this were demonstrated to comical lengths on Top Gear last season when Jezza managed to flip his Robin over while seemingly standing still. This was a couple of seasons after May and Hammond attempted to launch a Robin on a rocket and then have it glide back to Earth, shuttle-style. Everything went fine until separation when. . . well, perhaps Lucas electronics intervened?
Somehow, despite Top Gear's inability to do so, the ‘Plastic Pig' - as the British so affectionately refer to the Reliant three wheelers - manages to stay upright well enough that thousands have been sold over the years, and there are clubs and even racing series centered around the cars. Perhaps Top Gear was going for a more jocular take than an accurate one when they featured Clarkson flipping his like it was a whorehouse mattress.
One Rialto has managed to not only keep from turning turtle, but also to make its way to a city that itself was turned upside down by Hurricane Katrina. Sporting a 848-cc four and 4-speed gearbox, the under half-ton trike should make quick work of the mostly constant elevations that represent the Big Easy's topography. Of course, that's once the apparent problem with the Carburettor gets resolved. Inside there's room for four, although due to the cramped quarters it would probably be best that at least two of those passengers are conjoined. The twin wheels in back are coil sprung, and having that single up front means that no possum is safe from being turned into étouffée.
With seats thinner than a happy hour well drink, and a dash apparently vacuum-formed by Hasbro, comfort isn't really the Reliant's forte, but then again neither is driving enjoyment. In truth the Rialto's greatest single feature may be its incredibly small size. In fact, should you happen to be a member of a troupe of clowns this would be the perfect ride for ten to fifteen of you to pile out of at opportune moments of clown-related ass-grabbery. Or, perhaps you are a super spy of the Mission Impossible ilk, and need a stealthy getaway car. The Rialto may not be fast, but, as documented in the photos, it will handily fit inside a standard U-Haul truck, confusing pursuing henchmen and ensuring your escape.
For whatever your reason to own one, the opportunity to buy a Reliant here in the states doesn't come up all that often. This '83 edition looks to be as tidy as you can expect, and the chances of finding another one vying with you for tiny parking spots is about as likely as getting laid in one. And not only is it exclusive, but it'd also be pretty easy to register anywhere here as in the U.S., three-wheelers are considered to be motorcycles. Whoo-hoo!
So, do you think four grand is a fair price for this three wheeler? Or, does that amount make this Reliant revolting?
Help me out with NPOCP. Click here to send a me a tip, and remember to include your commenter handle.