RELIANT RIALTO REVIEW

If you’re tempted to try a car that doesn’t have a wheel in each corner then here’s a practical choice that defies the jokers

Reliant Rialto

Reliant Rialto

Introduced in 1982, the Reliant Rialto was effectively a revised version of the company’s famous Robin three-wheeler offering more stability at higher speeds plus improved MPG.

Design house International Automotive Design (IAD), responsible for the Alien concept car of 1984, plus work on cars including the Mazda MX-5 and Volvo 440, came up with the more aerodynamic wedge shape with its sloping front and squared off back. Other new features included rectangular headlights, a single large windscreen wiper, revised interior and a stronger fibreglass body. The Robin’s original 848cc light alloy engine sat in a galvanised chassis while several other components were inherited from its predecessor.

 

VITAL STATISTICS

ENGINE 848cc/4-cyl/OHV

POWER 39bhp@5500rpm

TORQUE 46lb ft@3500rpm

TOP SPEED 80mph

0-60MPH 17sec

FUEL CONSUMPTION 60mpg

TRANSMISSION RWD, four-speed man

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

BODY TALK

While the fibreglass 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 is liable to 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 under half-a-ton), well looked after and unabused 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 canfairly easily be replaced.

 

DRIVING LICENCE CHANGES

For a long while a motorcycle licence loophole made lightweight three-wheelers a very popular choice but EU regulations saw the driving licence legislation for three-wheelers changed considerably in January 2013 for new drivers. The most important changes from that date are that new drivers must be a minimum of 21 years of age (for tricycles over 15 kW), 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 right.

 

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 of these with your car would be a definite bonus.

 

OUR VERDICT

There was a big waiting list for the Rialto when it was first announced and it was a good seller for Reliant but despites its advantages it never equalled the popularity of the Robin that reappeared in Mk2 form from 1989.

Of the various Rialto formats available, the estate version provides the most practical choice.  In 1985 a Jubilee Rialto model was introduced to celebrate Reliant’s 50th year in business.

Second generation Rialtos appeared in 1984 featuring a High Torque-Energy engine with high ratio rear axle. Despite the reduced power, 37.5bhp instead of 40bhp, it was capable of three figure speeds and fuel economy of up to 70mpg when cruising at 56mph.

Reliant three-wheelers have had to put up with endless jokes thanks to Del Boy’s Reliant Regal in TV’s Only Foolsand Horses and past Top Gear presenters’ desire to tip them over, but the Rialto does offer practical aspects that deserve more serious consideration.

These often overlooked three-wheelers offer economic fun if you treat them with respect. A project will cost you £500 and you will have to pay a premium for a concours example.

Recently Added

A4 silver 2.8 quattro 008Sponsored Ad
2000
£2,295
  • 89,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1086837
Audi A4 2.8 Quattro Sport Tiptronic Saloon
28
07860 215636
View details
P1240077Sponsored Ad
1994
£16,995
  • 2,998
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1082720
** NOW SOLD ** 1994 Rover Mini Cooper 1.3 SPI in British Racing Green with a white roof, mirrors ...
23
07967135037
View details
1968 wolseley 1300 automatic farina grey 1Sponsored Ad
1968
£6,995
  • 27,500
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1093015
1968(F) Wolseley 1300 Mk1 4-speed automatic. Farina Grey with Reef Blue leather interior and wood...
24
01277 365415
View details
1998 bmw z3 1.9 convertible arctic silver 11Sponsored Ad
1998
£4,295
Roadster
  • 40,500
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1050921
1998 BMW Z3 1.9i Roadster convertible in Arctic Silver with Black leather interior, 5-speed gearb...
13
01277 365415
View details
1Sponsored Ad
£2,795
  • 17,300
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: DIY1100054
12 months MoT, VGC, throughout drives excellent, this is a nice P38 and sensibly priced. Fully do...
6
07860527820
View details
Dsc 0378Sponsored Ad
1966
£24,500
289
  • 99,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1089177
The Ford Mustang was the original Pony car and was introduced in April 1964 which came in two var...
14
01424 870600
View details
47364 1Sponsored Ad
1988
£Auction
320I E30
  • 113,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1100070
The BMW E30 was produced by BMW from 1982 to 1994. The initial models used the Coupe body style. Fou
6
02381 247 805
View details
47476 1Sponsored Ad
2010
£33,995
  • 28,500
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1100069
With only 28,000 miles on the clock, and beautifully presented in the combination of Frost Blue w...
5
01798 849 279
View details
46008 1Sponsored Ad
2015
£POA
90
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1096570
2015 Land Rover Defender 90 Autobiography (RHD) for sale in London Unused Delivery mileage only F...
32
0208 226 3044
View details
47474 1Sponsored Ad
1986
€23,950
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1100068
If you need space, you need a Suburban. This Chevrolet Suburban is in a excellent condition. Th...
30
+49 2822 5375 722
View details
See All Classic Cars for Sale