Archive for the ‘Reliant Regal’ Tag
There was a time when owning a motor car was like being part of an unofficial club. Drivers would look out for each other, stopping to help when the new and unreliable form of transport broke down or just to give directions in the days when directional signs were far less frequent. As the numbers of motorists grew the camaraderie faded and it become an everyone for themselves attitude. Motorcyclist tended to retain the club attitude and three-wheel drivers even acknowledged each other with a raised hand as they passed.
Helping motorcyclists and three wheeler drivers was an ingrained habit for my father. When ever we passed someone stopped at the side of the road he would stop to see if he could offer any help. Carrying a significant supply of tools and spare parts was the norm and many a time he managed to get some poor motorcyclist going again, or at least give them a lift to the next town so they could summon help. His good Samaritan act was not without its consequences however; travelling to his brothers wedding we passed a lone motorcyclist stopped at the side of the road who obviously had a problem as his chain lay in several bits on the road.
Dad proceeded to unpack his tool kit to locate the chain splitter and some spare chain links of the right size. After about an hour he had managed to get the chain repaired and refitted to the bike much to the surprise of the driver who was far from mechanically minded. My mother was furious at this act of kindness, not just because we arrived late but because my father’s wedding suit was now rather creased and covered with strategically placed highlights of grease. His brothers and sisters thought the whole episode was hilarious and typical of my father’s attitude to life.
Driving to the shops this morning I was passed by a Reliant three wheeler travelling at 75mph or more. The event reminded my of my father’s antics as a long time owner of three wheelers, including a Reliant Regal Supervan III. He seemed able to coax a considerable turn of speed out of the 850cc engine and regularly had the needle of the speedometer straining past the top of the scale. No doubt the lightweight fibreglass body was a great help together with his knowledge of the internal combustion engine.
Much to my mother’s consternation, he barely slowed down for corners and roundabouts, preferring to navigate on two wheels while leaning across the engine compartment that separated the two front seats to help balance the vehicle. As a child I found these aerobatics very thrilling and the reactions of the other drivers as we overtook them quite hilarious.
Occasionally a driver would seem quite offended that they had been overtaken by a three wheeler and immediately increase their speed to over take us. There was, and I presume still is, a great deal of camaraderie between Reliant drivers. You would always acknowledge each other by a wave of flash of the headlamps. In car parks he would make a point of parking as close as possible to other Reliants hoping to exchange a few pleasantries, anecdotes or spare parts with the owner.
The Radio 4 programme ‘Music to drive to’ about driving moments people associate with a particular song or musical composition made me recall my own musical memory. In 1967, while travelling with my parents to our holiday destination in the South West of England our Reliant Regal van hit a large puddle, aquaplaned across the road and rolled over onto its roof before finally coming to a halt on the grass verge. Fortunately we all survived and the only thing damaged was the three wheeler which had lost its windscreen as the roof at the front collapsed. Being a van the remainder of the structure had withstood being inverted although there were deep gouges along one side.
At the time of the accident I was sitting among the suitcases in the back of the van surrounded by the musty smell of a canvas tent and listening to the radio which was playing the song ’Excerpt from a Teenage Opera’ by Mark Wirtz. Ever since that day whenever I come across the smell of musty canvas or hear that song the memory of the accident comes back as vivid as ever. The van turning over; the sound of the roof scrapping along the road; the heavy rain; the helping hands who pulled us from the vehicle and the shock at seeing all the damaged are as real as they were in 1967.
Sounds and smells are incredible memory joggers and do not seem to fade with time. They can influence people’s moods and even affect their work performance. They are used to help stimulate the minds of the elderly and those with brain injuries or disease. Somehow it seems these sounds and smells can cut through all the confusion and trigger moments of lucidity. Most of these memories are pleasant, unfortunately this one is still a little disturbing.