The Reliant Robin is a quirky little car. It has very little power, odd looks, and three wheels… with the solitary wheel at the front, doing the steering. As you’d imagine, this isn’t particularly great for stability, something Jeremy Clarkson showed off to great comedic effect on Top Gear. Remember the bit where he continuously toppled the little three-wheeled hero? Well you might not be surprised to learn that it was completely staged.
Writing in his Sunday Times column, Clarkson said:
“To judge from the letters I get and the remarks in the street, it seems the most memorable thing I did on Top Gear was a short segment about the Reliant Robin. You may remember: I drove it around Sheffield and it kept falling over.
“Well, now’s the time to come clean. A normal Reliant Robin will not roll unless a drunken rugby team is on hand. Or it’s windy. But in a headlong drive to amuse and entertain, I’d asked the backroom boys to play around with the differential so that the poor little thing rolled over every time I turned the steering wheel.
“Naturally, the health and safety department was very worried about this and insisted that the car be fitted with a small hammer that I could use, in case I was trapped after the roll, to break what was left of the glass.”
So there you have it. Turns out not everything you see on television is true. Fortunately, it seems as though Clarkson’s disservice to the little Robin has left him feeling guilty. When he set up his new company with Richard Hammond, James May and Andy Wilman, they each bought a Reliant Robin as a company car.