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Reliant Ant

The Reliant Ant, also known as the Reliant TW9 (Three Wheeler 9) is a small three-wheeler pickup truck produced by the Reliant Motor Company in Tamworth (England) between 1967 and 1987.

The Ant possessed a box section metal chassis. At the front, directly behind the single front wheel, a 700 cc four-cylinder four-stroke engine was installed, delivering a claimed 27.5 bhp (20 kW) of power. Above the front wheel and engine was a glass-fibre cabin with space for two and an aerodynamic front and two round headlights. Despite its apparent simplicity the cabin design incorporated gentle curves and creases to enhance structural strength. The rear wheels drove the vehicle to a maximum speed of 54 mph (86 km/h) and overall fuel consumption of 8.1 lt./100 km was quoted.

The left-hand drive version offered a load capacity of 500 kg and was intended to compete in Mediterranean countries with vehicles such as Piaggio's Ape (bee). Early on, Reliant's Greek partner MEBEA ordered 250 of the Ants. For the right-hand drive domestic market a more challenging load capacity of 800 kg was envisaged, but without a more powerful engine the vehicle struggled to handle this load weight. Target customers in the UK were mostly local government agencies. Reliant sold the TW9 as a chassis/cab and a wide range of uses was found for it. A flat-bed truck, various closed delivery van bodies, a small water tanker, a refuse truck, a street drain clearer and a snow plough all appeared. There was even a road sweeper and an articulated tractor-unit. The price for a chassis and cabin was quoted as £451.

In 1972 engine capacity was increased to 748 cc (although some later 848 cc Reliant engines may have been retro-fitted) and claimed output rose to 32 bhp (23.5 kW). Performance benefitted. By this time Greek partner MEBEA was building the vehicles under license.

Despite all its advantages, only 1,229 of the little trucks were sold during its initial four years. The more powerful version released in 1972 managed only 659 additional sales, giving a total output of 1,888 units. That figure does not include the vehicles built under license in Greece, however.

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Reliant vehicles