WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

BODY TALK

While the glass­fi­bre bodyshell re­duces the prospect of cor­ro­sion, they are li­able to ac­ci­dent dam­age so still re­quire close in­spec­tion. Be wary of cars that have been abused in the name of fun too. Be­low the body­line, even the gal­vanised chas­sis can suf­fer from cor­ro­sion. Spe­cific ar­eas to ex­am­ine in­clude the A-frame that holds the front wheel in place, gear­box mounts and front up­rights.

EN­GINE AND ME­CHAN­I­CALS

Be­cause they were so com­pact and light (to­tal weight com­ing in at less than half a ton), well looked af­ter Rial­tos will hap­pily last for years. They are not dif­fi­cult to work on and there is a good sup­ply of sec­ond­hand parts avail­able at rea­son­able prices to keep your three-wheeler go­ing. Reg­u­larly main­tained en­gines will en­joy long life though check for signs of over­heat­ing and the prospects of a blown head gas­ket. Four-speed gear­boxes also per­form well though check for signs of wear on se­cond gear syn­chro­mesh. Brakes are gen­er­ally good, while a weak clutch can fairly eas­ily be re­placed.

ON THE CARDS

Owner cards were in­tro­duced by Reliant for the Rialto that in­cluded in­for­ma­tion on the ve­hi­cle plus war­ranty and ser­vice in­for­ma­tion de­tails for deal­ers. Bag­ging one is a real bonus.

DRIV­ING LI­CENCE CHANGES

For a long while a mo­tor­cy­cle li­cence loop­hole made light­weight three-wheel­ers a very pop­u­lar choice for younger driv­ers, es­pe­cially in the 1960s, but EU reg­u­la­tions saw the driv­ing li­cence leg­is­la­tion for three-wheel­ers changed in Jan­uary 2013. The most im­por­tant changes from that date are that new driv­ers must be a min­i­mum of 21 years of age (for tri­cy­cles over 15kW), and re­quire a mo­tor­cy­cle li­cence (cat­e­gory A or A1) to be able to drive them be­cause they no longer fall within cat­e­gory B1. Driv­ers with ex­ist­ing full en­ti­tle­ment to drive B1 cat­e­gory ve­hi­cles gained be­fore Jan­uary 2013 re­tain that.

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