Variations:

Reliant Fox 1983 - 1990

Body Types:

 

Pick Up

Hard Top

Soft Top

Camper

Special Editions:

 

Tandy Camper

 

Data:

 

When Reliant retired the Kitten model – largely a 4-wheeled version of the Robin, sharing many of its components - they were left without a light 4-wheeler in their line-up.

Enter the, rather different, Fox Utility.

In the mid-‘70s Greek light vehicle manufacturer Mebea, seeking to produce a lightweight commercial with a grp body, had commissioned designer John Crosthwaite to design a body they could build and assemble onto existing running gear. As John had designed Reliant’s Kitten chassis to fit Ogle’s bodywork concept, and Mebea also had a history of assembling several previous Reliant models for sale in Greece, he dreamed up a simple pick-up style body, with a full fabric tilt on a tubular frame, that would use the Kitten rolling chassis, lights, seats etc. The Mebea Fox, of which about 2-3,000 were produced.

By the early ‘80s Mebea’s needs had changed, in UK the Kitten and Robin designs were dated and Reliant were launching the SS1 alongside the Rialto body shape on the 3-wheeler. It is said that John Crosthwaite persuaded Reliant that a beefed-up version of the Fox would fill a niche, and could be assembled by spare labour capacity in between waves of SS1 production.

John Box, long-time associate of Reliant, worked on strengthening the chassis and improving the steering and suspension of the Fox chassis – it being foreseen that it might form the basis of other, heavier models too. A full cab was added, as well as a removable ‘van’ top. Chassis were all spray-galvanised.Other components were shared with Rialto models.

Over a year, 100 Foxes were assembled, all champagne cream, all with grp ‘van’ tops, and displayed in 100 chosen dealers in late 1983.

From then on, until nearly 1990, most Foxes were built to order as pickups, vans or estate cars. 601 chassis were produced, but over a hundred of these went to underpin Asquiths, Tempests, Vantiques, Tandy RVs etc and several batches were exported to Sweden to be fitted with electric power.

Overpriced, noisy, and undersized, the Fox never really left its niche, or lair. But it stands out as something so good within that niche that it is worthy of exploration at least. John Crosthwaite then joined Hyundai, where he designed the uncannily similar Pony pickup. In many ways a steel Fox with more useable capacity and power.

Fox

fox pick up
Tandy camper-fox

Reliant Fox (Pick Up)

Photography courtesy of Elvis Payne

Reliant Fox (Tandy Camper)

Photography courtesy of Kerry Croxton

Crosthwaite cars

Mebea fox

Photography courtesy of Duncan Bradford

Written for www.35Reliant.co.uk by Duncan Bradford

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1935 Reliant

Oct 2020