HISTORY OF THE BOND BUG
The Bug story begins with Reliant so a brief introduction on the company that produced it and the man who designed it follows. Although badge'd as a Bond, it was produced by Reliant's and designed By Tom Karen.
This is the first in a 3 page history on the Bug- the rest coming later in the year.
Reliant- Its history.
Life for Reliant Motors started way back 1934 . The company was set up to produce the Safety Seven- A 3 wheeled vehicle initially produced by the Raleigh Cycle Company. It used the same wheel layout as all the later cars and was powered by an air-cooled JAP engine which drove the rear wheels by a chain. The Safety Seven was designed by Tom Williams while working for the Raleigh company. Raleigh decided to discontinue the production to concentrate on there core business -The production of cycles of which there still doing today. Tom along with a couple of fellow workers decided to form Reliant Engineering and to carry on with production- There first van leaving the newly rented premises (An old bus depot) in 1935.
Over the coming years the van was redesigned and an Austin engine replaced the JAP V twin. Sales of the vehicle were very successful and allowed Reliant to expand with the purchase of the Tamworth premises and the acquisition of a gear cutting firm (Morson Engineering of Coventry). After Austin dropped the production of the side valve engine in 1938 Reliant's redesigned the unit and then started to produce there own engines. The production of the range went on right up to1956 with 5,834 sold.
In 1953 the company produced there first passenger car this was called the Regal and used a box section chassis with an aluminum body over an ash frame. The steering set up was completely re designed with a conventional steering wheel as apposed to the motorcycle forked system. The first all GRP bodied Reliant appeared in 1955 with the Regal Mk 111 and the company continued this trend with all the later cars including the 4 wheelers. The Reliant designed overhead valve engine made its debut in 1962 with a capacity of 598 cc. This engine was developed over the years and was eventually used in the Bug.
In 1969 Reliant took over there 3 wheeled rivals- Bonds* of Preston. Bonds produced a long line of 3 wheeled cars and vans powered by Villiers engines ranging from 125cc to 250cc. Bond also produced the Bond Equipe, A car in competition with the Reliant produced Scimitar. Reliant hoped to prosper with this take over as it would give them excess to the Standard/Triumph dealer net work but this was scuppered when British Leyland was formed and the association between the 2 companies was cancelled.
* For more details on The Bond Company check out Nick Wotherspoon's Bond site .
Coming later this year the Tom Karen Story
Plus the Launch of the Bug.