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Reliant Rebel (1964 - 1974)

Whilst sales of 3 wheelers continued to grow, Reliant MD Ray Wiggin and other board members felt that this could not continue so looked for other niches in the market.Ray Wiggin knew how fiercely loyal the Reliant 3 wheeler customers was and thought that why should they be forced to buy an another brand when they graduate to 4 wheels why not offer them a small Reliant 4 wheeler ? The design of the new  4 wheeler was entrusted to Tom Karen of Ogle design and the chassis to Reliants in house engineering department team headed up by David Page, who came up with a ladder type chassis similar to the 3 wheeler,  using a steering box and suspension components from the Standard 10 . The name Rebel was chosen and along side the Scimitar GT was launched at the Earls Court Motorshow in 1964 fitted with a 27BHP of the Reliant 600 cc engine. The main advantages of the Rebel was the rust free body work, for the size of a vehicle a generous interior, 60MPG fuel economy and an excellent turning circle. The disadvantages was it could not compete with mass produced rivals on price and performance.

A revised Rebel was shown at the October 1965 Motor show, with a new rear suspension,revised front end, a more modern dashboard and a 2 spoke steering wheel , however sales still remained slow due to the uncompetitive performance compared to similar vehicles.

In an attempt to answer this criticism a 700cc version of the Reliant alloy engine was fitted and in October 1967 the Rebel 700 saloon was launched along side a new model the Rebel 700 estate. The 700cc engine produced 31bhp and was now capable of 70MPH, but would still achieve up to 55MPG. The increase in engine size was not the only changes,the chassis was modified ,the fuel tank was moved allowing for a lower rear floor and an increase in load space,  a new padded dashboard and steering wheel along with a column mounted multi switch for the indicators/horn/main beam, coupled with the new estate model increased the appeal of the Rebel.
 The estate was some 9 inches longer than the saloon and had a luggage compartment that would carry 46 cubic  feet and as a result by 1969 the estate provided to be the best seller.
 An interesting development of the Rebel was the 1600 GT fitted with a Ford 1600 cross flow engine. The prototype had performance that was said to be better than the Scimitar 3 litre, making this model one of the first  "hot hatch" vehicles, if it had reached production.  In 1971 a van version was launched with a carrying capacity of 5 cwt and was basically an estate without Windows or rear seats.

In October 1972 the Rebel had it last increase in engine size and the Rebel 750 was introduced. With a new range of colours and like the Regal range the all black "Scimitar" look interior, the Rebel finally had performance that was on par with it competitors, with a compression ratio of 8.5:1 produced 35BHP  (detuned to 32BHP in the van) that gave the Rebel a top speed of 80MPH. However, by this time it was to late as the Rebel was looking rather dated and as a result sales continued to decline, with the successful launch of the new Robin in 1973 Reliant decided to cease production in May 1974.
 

Rebel Saloon

Rebel saloon

Rebel 700 estate

Rebel 700 estate

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