This is the second in a series of small bitesize bits of info on interesting cars found at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in the Beautiful New Forest National Park. All photos were taken by me and my potato unless otherwise referenced. Now we have that out of the way, sit back and relax children it’s story time.
The Focus of this weeks Beaulieu Finds is their 1953 Reliant Regal in gorgeous cream with a red leatherette interior. Originally displayed at the Earls Court Motorshow in semi-production form in November 1952, It was Reliant’s first foray into passenger cars after achieving success with three wheeled van in the pre and post war periods (though during the war they were machining parts instead of building vehicles).
Though Reliant is known for its Fibreglass bodied cars like the Scimitar and Robin, the Regal Mk1 is fashioned from aluminium draped over an Ash frame which was then bolted to a conventional steel chassis. The production version differed from the Earls Court version by being smaller and losing some of the features to make it light enough to qualify for a reduced rate of vehicle tax, in this process the Regal lost 330mm out of the length, 110mm from the width, replaced manual windows for no windows and removed the exterior door handles. This reduction in tax helped to keep the Regal mk1 competitive through its short sub 2 year production run after which fibreglass began replacing the aluminium on subsequent Regals.
Powered by a 747cc inline 4 based on the unit from the Austin Seven producing a mind boggling 16 bhp at 4000 rpm the Regal was reported to be able to hit 65 mph and could maintain a nice cruise at 45 mph and hit 50 mpg (imperial). It was pitched as an alternative to motorcycles as were the majority of three wheeled Reliant’s thereafter, this was due to the lax licensing for three wheeled cars being classed as motorcycles.
Designed to seat “four” it was able to be a family hauler and that’s what made it attractive to motorcycle licence holders, though given it’s bare bones nature it wouldn’t be the sort of car you’d want to take on a long journey but if it is all you have, I guess you got no choice. As you can see, the interior is dominated by the transmission tunnel which I believe also contains part of the engine due the space limitations associated with a single front wheel and a front engine. The dials being down and to the right I imagine would be an ergonomic nightmare but I guess you could probably just drive it as fast as you like and certainly not break any modern traffic laws.
What do you think of the Regal Mk1? Let me know below and if you want me to do some more of these do tell me I got enough material to keep me going for a bit.