The Bond Bug





Prototype bug Though the thinking behind the Reliant takeover of Bond cars Ltd. in 1969 was certainly a lot more complex than simply knocking out the opposition, they did use the opportunity to put into production a radical new three-wheeler fun-car concept which they had been working on for some time. It was felt that under the Bond name, Tom Karen's totally new bold concept might just work (prototype illustrated on the left). The design was totally Reliant's and was powered by their own 700cc all-alloy engine, with a truly high-tech look and bright orange glass-fibre bodyshell which is still talked about today! 
The Bug was launched in June 1970 and was specifically aimed at the younger motorist and although not cheap or particularly practical, t more than made up for this with styling that made it an instant hit and it turned heads wherever it went. 
The 700ES (illustrated on the right) was the top of the range model and featured such optional extras as; alloy rear wheels, wing mirrors, sports tyres, upgraded interior and a "formula-1" style steering wheel. Despite a price tag of 629 the 700ES proved to be the most popular model. Despite its sporting looks however, the Bug was not exactly sparkling in performance and handling was cause for some adverse comment, but from the driving seat it certainly felt fast according to satisfied owners! 1973 Bond Bug 700ES

Cutaway Bug at Motorshow

Behind the scenes at the Preston factory things were not so bright and cheerful however and the Bug certainly seemed to have more than its fair share of problems. Though with such a radical design and with components, including the bodyshells, being produced in Tamworth and shipped up to Preston for final assembly, perhaps this was hardly surprising. The first 500 production vehicles were built at Preston and although many of the problems were ironed out, there remained friction between the two companies and in July 1970 the factory was closed and production, perhaps logically, was relocated at Tamworth.
Despite all the attention from the media and almost universal recognition wherever it went, the Bug was never a big seller and by 1972 production was limited to the 700ES model with only around 15 vehicles a week being built. Reliant finally bid farewell to the Bug in 1974 when the last of the 2,500 or so built left the factory in May of that year. The moulds were, however, apparently retained however and were later sold off, leading to a later re-launch of the Bond Bug as a kit-car in either its original three-wheeler or a new four-wheeler specification.

Bond Bug sales brochure cover


Book cover

For more information on the history of the Bond marque click on the book cover for details 

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