Short A Wheel: 1987 Reliant Rialto GLS SE

After being imported from the UK, this three-wheeler icon is looking for a new place to call home. The seller states that he has the proper paperwork so that the next owner will be able to register it in the United States. With over 94,000 kilometers, it has definitely seen it’s fair share of road time over the years. The car looks to be in decent driving shape with the paint and interior showing it’s age. Also to note, the drivers side mirror appears to be broken off. The seller states he has done some work to the car including a new fuel pump, fuel lines, filter, battery and upgraded electronics so it is road worthy and ready to drive. If you are looking for an attention getter then look no further! Reliant produced these quirky three-wheeler cars for 66 years from 1935 to 2001 when they ceased production and sold the rights to a different company. These were primarily sold to people who only had motorcycle licenses up until the point when the laws were changed and lightweight 4 wheel cars could also be driven. This is what really killed the market and put Reliant out of business. This 1987 Reliant Rialto GLS SE is listed on Craigslist in Elmwood Park, Illinois with an asking price of $4,800.

From 1984-1986, the Rialto’s were equipped with a High Torque Economy engine. But later in 1986, they converted back to the original 848cc engine that was used in the earlier years of the Rialto. It is 4 cylinder aluminum block that pushes out 39 bhp (Brake Horse Power). Not exactly a fast car but would you want it to be with only one wheel up front? There can’t be too many of these driving around in the US and if you are a serious buyer, I would recommend checking with your insurance company beforehand as these are prone to tipping over very easily. Would you consider buying it and do you think these will grow in popularity in the US?

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  1. canadainmarkseh Member

    These are a death trap it is well documented that there is almost no handling characteristics to single front wheel cars. There are a number of 2 front 1 back wheeled cars on the market they are called autocycles and would run circles around this thing. It amazes me that the company stayed in business as long as they did. Where was Ralph Nadar when you needed him, oh ya busy picking on corvair. Big pass for me. Roll this turd into the crusher and make some garden shovels.

  2. Joel Soto

    Reminds me of the car that Mr. Bean bumps into at his old t.v. show

    • Scott Tait

      It is kinda the same … the one in the tv show is an older reliant robin … a blue version on of the one from only fools and horses ..

    • Classic Steel

      I am with bean and dislike these beasts .

      Push them off the road when you get a chance 😼

  3. Chris Williams

    Looks like the taxi cab from the old version of Total Recall. Johnny cabs I think they called them on Mars.

  4. malsal

    Hard to make shovels out of a body made of fiberglass. The only metal on these cars was the suspension and running gear.
    They made a four wheel version with the same running gear it was called the Kitten and was a much better car.

  5. luke arnott

    Reliant also made the Sabre & Scimitar 4 wheel coupes & convertibles,with Ford V6 engines.Good,fast cars.They also did a 4 wheeled Rebel saloon and a Fox pick up.

  6. Healeymonster

    The bad boys of Top Gear showed us that these make great Space Shuttles…

    • Tom Justice

      Their’s was a Robin. Too bad that one bolt didn’t blow and the car could have separated and parachuted down; now that would have been WAY COOL.

  7. Peter

    The single worst car ever featured on Top Gear.

    • canadainmarkseh Member

      The top gear clip is a scream I laughed myself into tears. A must watch.

    • George

      They added weights to make it roll and tumble.

      • Al

        Hmmm just maybe you think it might just be Jeremy on one side of the thing. That’s weight enough !!

  8. LAB3

    Wonder how hard it would be to fiddle with the trans and make it run in reverse, much safer that way!

  9. Doyler

    Saw a documentary many moons ago where a guy bought the company after it went into receivership. He was doing his best to turn it around. I wonder how he did in the end, even if the company appears to have not made it.

  10. Nevis Beeman

    Fans of the Reliant 3-wheeler will also find one at the small private museum on the Kancamagus Highway, just outside North Woodstock, New Hampshire. (Can be seen on Flickr too)
    This one is (I believe) a slightly older Reliant Robin. She is usually parked beside a Crossley in the car park outside, and has NH plates.For various reasons I’d visit North Woodstock while hiking the AT, which passes nearby, but would always pause to enjoy the museum, and especially the little Reliant from home. Perhapes they will become ‘stable mates’ !

  11. hatofpork

    I have also seen said Robin in Woodstock. They weren’t designed for modern roads but are perfectly fine in a rural village setting. And they have charm (a rare thing in modern auto design). PS-@Nevis Crossley and Crosley were two very different companies!

  12. Rex Kahrs Member

    I love that… a documentary where the guy tried to turn the company around. Get it? I hope he got it “pointed in the right direction”! But you know the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, trike, trike again”. Ok, I guess that was the tipping point.

  13. CCFisher

    The driver’s side mirror no doubt broke off when the driver rolled it at parking-lot speed.

  14. Craig Walker

    It’s a complete fallacy about them toppling over the top gear ones had to have wieghts added to the front corners to cause it to happen, part of the show was filmed local to me & at a garage we regularly use.

    The fool’s & horses van is the robins predecessor the regal the exact model is a regal supervan 3.

  15. JoeNYWF64

    was not a pushmobile, i wonder how it, with its TAPERED nose, would have handled.
    Has science progressed now to fit a gyroscope to a single front 3 wheeler, like was theorized for the

  16. UK Paul

    It’s low miles for the year?

  17. George

    The Robin’s stability problem wasn’t at low speeds, it was at higher speeds where one had to hang on tight. The more aerodynamic front end on the Rialto made it more stable. Top end of up to 100 mph.

  18. Bruce

    It’s a home market British car, so why in the world would the seller report its use in kilometers? The UK uses miles for road measurements and has never used kilometers, so that’s what the odometer reads.

  19. chad tells a real story.
    As said – GB & Continent rds/conditions much different.

    The way to go is (again as stated above) 2 up frnt. 1 in back (al la the Canam motorcycle, etc). USA banned the ‘3 wheeler’ (now called an ‘ATV’ or ‘4 wheeler’ locally).

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