£1000 Chal­lenge Re­liant Robin

Work is un­der­way to make our Robin per­form bet­ter – and to get the driver’s win­dow work­ing

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK - 1990 RE­LIANT ROBIN

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.

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