Welcome to this blog which will detail the restoration of my 1961 Reliant Regal, Reg. Starting as a complete novice I hope to be able to carry out a total restoration of the car from 2011 onwards to coincide with its 50th birthday. For many a Reliant Regal may seem like a strange choice of car to restore, but for me there was only ever going to be Reg. I inherited Reg from a sadly departed friend and vowed to get it back into full working order as much as a tribute to him as anything else. Almost seven years have passed since that vow in which time I have gone through university, job hunting and house purchasing and renovation. I now finally find myself in the right position to make a start and will be sharing that journey on this blog for my own personal record and also for everyone else to enjoy. I hope you will follow along.

Wednesday, 1 October 2003

Reliant Regal Restoration: The Beginning

Where best to start off then with the biggest car related project I have undertaken, the complete ground up restoration of a 1961 Reliant Regal. What about some history?

My Reliant Regal (or Reg as we like to call it), started life on the 22nd February, 1961. It originally carried the registration 824 AJW, although this has unfortunately been transferred to another vehicle at some point in the past. The engine is a 598 cc side valve unit, the last production car to be fitted with such a set-up, and has covered about 20,000 miles from new. I believe the original colour was a dark blue, but it now carries a rather fetching shade of signal box red. Believe it or not I am only the third registered keeper, which for a vehicle of this age is very impressive. The previous owner since 1997 was a very good family friend of mine called Len. Len tragically lost his life in 2004, leaving me to inherit Reg. Previous to that Reg had belonged to Len's uncle, so its been in the same family for a very long time.

The story goes that Len's Uncle used to use the car as an every day run around until his wife became fed up with it and ordered him to go and get a replacement. Being a resourceful sort of chap, he just went out and had it repainted. Apparently it fooled her and she thought they had a brand new car! Eventually though the car did fall out of fashion, and for many years remained stored until it came into Len's possession. I have had dealings with the car from this time on, watching as Len restored it back to its former glory, and going for rides along the local roads. Trust me you will never forget watching a full grown man attempting to squeeze into the back seats. Its a bit tight to say the least!The engine had a full rebuild as has the gearbox. I'm hoping not to have to do this again myself.

Around 2000 the car was laid up again as other restoration projects came to the fore. I helped build several protective canopies, one of which ended up blowing away in the wind. Ahem. Anyways, that's pretty much where we find ourselves now.

The year is 2003, the month is October, and surprisingly considering we find ourselves in Wales, its very nice weather. By now Reg had been standing on the same spot for a good couple of years. First task was to check the breaks. Yep, there aren't any. Luckily seized off which I suppose is considerably better than being seized on. This did however pose a problem. The new resting place was going to be in a shed on a neighboring field to the house. To get there involved climbing up an embankment to cross a river, and then descend the other side. This was going to be interesting. We thought we had better try the engine but this didn't even turn over. Luckily we expected this so had a Land Rover present to provide a tow. Having no towing eye, we tied the rope to the cross member by the front wheel. My dad was going to be doing the "driving", which involved sitting in the car and steering, whilst shouting and gesticulating that he was about to end up in the ditch.

regal1.2 regal1.1

All went well initially. We got Reg up the embankment but on the descent the rope jammed the front axle causing the front wheel to skid. As the Land Rover continued to pull, Reg went into a slide coming to a halt a few inches from the side of his new home. Precision or luck, I'll let you decide. Next we backed the car into the shed, by hand this time, then hit the next problem. Picture the scene, Reg is in a shed about four inches longer than himself, the position he needs to be in is 10 foot to the right. Not the easiest space to move a car into. Next followed a series of movements involving jacking one end of the car up, and pulling it to the right until Reg was in position. All that was left to do was nail on the final section of walling and seal Reg in. One year later I'd be back, and in much different circumstances.

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