I recently did a short essay on British Three Wheeled Vehicles, and as I haven’t stuck up anything of late, I’ve decided to put it up on my Blog
The probable reason for the “popularity” of three wheeled vehicles in the UK may have been financial. The “Road Tax” was a poll tax imposed on annually on motor vehicles to be paid at a post office.
If you were a millionaire you would pay the same Road Tax on your brand new Rolls Royce as someone (from the lower social orders) would pay for his second hand Austin Seven (crap car).
In the fifties and sixties of the last century, this tax was for the common man, eye wateringly high. As indeed was the price of cars in general.
For the less fortunate there was always the motorcycle, which attracted a lesser rate of Road Tax than the motor car. Some people took to attaching a side car to their motorcycles to extend the amount of passengers they could carry. This three wheeled “combination” was taxed in the same manner as a motorcycle.
The motorcycle combination was a three wheeled vehicle, and thus it was deemed that for the purposes of Road Tax – the Three Wheeler would be catogorised as a motorcycle. No it doesn’t make sense but when did tax ever make sense?
The 1937 Morgan – Putting the Sports in three wheels
I always thought these Messerschmitt three wheelers were very cool. Presumably the bombed out German Aeroplane manufacturer needed something to build after WWII. And not surprisingly, given the propensity of the Hun, they were banned from building Aircraft for a while after the war.
And here is BMW’s entry into the market after WWII The fabulous Bubble Car.
I suppose nowadays they would call it the “0” series
And here is the British entry – The Reliant Robin made by the Reliant Car Co, who also used to also produce the Reliant Scimitar, a hand built sports car, driven by that doyen of fashion Princess Anne.
It doesn’t look very cool compared to its early German Rivals but was seemingly in production till 2001.
And they were lovingly referred to as “Plastic Frogs”.
See also Reliant Regal (the pre 1973 versions)
In the seventies Reliant also produced a “cool” three wheeler – Presumably inspired by the VW buggy’s and the West Coast American Dream – the so called Bond Bug
What’s not to like?
As good looking and well designed on the inside, as it was on the outside.