£1000 Challenge Reliant Robin
Work is underway to make our Robin perform better – and to get the driver’s window working
THE STORY SO FAR Miles driven 17 Total mileage 63,892 What’s gone wrong It needs bits that haven’t arrived yet
DAVID SIMISTER So near, but yet so far. Our plucky little Reliant Robin, bought on a hunch for £600, has come an awfully long way since the discovery of its rotten front crossmember beneath the unforgiving spotlights of the NEC. Now its return to Birmingham is just around the corner – and we still haven’t quite finished mucking around with it yet.
The one thing I’ve vowed to do since it left the MoT station is to use it, and while our £1k Rover Tomcat’s still being entrusted with all the higher mileage gigs, I’m making sure that the Robin is the go-to machine of choice whenever one of us needs to pop out to the shops for milk, bread and a supply of biscuits to keep editorat-large Nick Larkin happy. What I’m finding is that with every outing H362 CBA feels a teeny bit smoother and more confident than its last run, which is exactly how I found my MGB GT in those initial adventures with it after more than a decade off the road. It doesn’t matter if your classic’s got 850cc or 850bhp, often the best thing to keep it running smoothly is just to get out there and enjoy it.
It’s running well, but one thing that’s became abundantly clear on its run to meet our Rover for the first time ( CCW, 17 October) is that the little four-pot’s definitely got more to give – in fact, one of you even wrote in to say that you’ve had a Rialto with a virtually identical set-up all the way to 95mph. On a private road, that is.
With the hesitation at higher revs pointing to either fuelling or ignition, we got the Robin’s bonnet up afterwards, and quickly discovered after a suction test that the vacuum advance isn’t working as Reliant’s team intended. A quick scout around online for ignition components later and it turned out that Powerspark had the bits our car needed, and a few days later a 45D distributor, a shiny new vacuum advance, a replacement ignition coil and some HT leads landed safetly at CCW Towers. All we need to do now is fit them. Fingers crossed that it does the trick.
In the meantime we’ve been attempting to tackle one of the other little jobs that needs sorting on the Robin, albeit with rather less success. Since its MoT I’ve been learning to live without a functioning driver’s door window – even though there is something faintly amusing about the idea of nursing the Reliant through a McDonald’s drive-thru – but then I realised that the final leg of its journey to Birmingham would involve the seemingly never-ending series of security barriers around the National Exhibition Centre.
Staff writer, Charlie Calderwood, volunteered to help with the delicate job of taking CBA’s door card out and seeing if we could get the window winder working again. The door card came away easily enough despite it being held in place with a bizarre mixture of both metal and plastic screws, and the discovery that the door membrane was held partially in place by gaffer tape that looks like it’s been in place since the car left Tamworth nearly three decades ago.
We were expecting to find a winder handle that’d become detached from the mechanism itself, but everything was connected as it ought to be, and it turns out that the mechanism itself had long since given up the ghost. With the light fading fast, we reassembled things, left the door card unattached and worked out that we’d need a replacement part – and fast.
Cue a quick search online for bits – and this being online shopping we’ve found three nearside window winder mechanisms, but not a single offside unit. Don’t Reliant passengers wind down their windows as much?
The car’s up and running but there’s plenty of work still to do, and its big appearance at the NEC is fast approaching. The race is on…
David’s been using the Robin as much as he can on shorter trips – and with every outing it feels better to drive.
It’s handy that Charlie’s Peugeot 205 always has a set of tools on standby for car park-based repairs.
Staff writer Charlie was a dab hand at diagnosing the non-functioning window fault, but the replacement part has yet to arrive. The door card came away easily enough – but is the gaffer tape holding in the membrane a factory fit, we wonder?
CCW contributor, Richard Gunn, and Practical Classics’ Danny Hopkins give our Robin the onceover midway through our window fault-finding.