Meet Norfolk’s number one Reliant fan

Ask most young men to name their dream car and they would probably mention famous brands such as Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, or Lotus.

But three-wheeler enthusiast James Holland would prefer a slower, smaller, but just as iconic model - a Reliant Robin.

Affectionately known as the 'plastic pig', the classic British-made cars have been the butt of jokes for decades in television shows like Only Fools and Horses, Mr Bean, and more recently have been rolled and smashed about by Jeremy Clarkson in Top Gear.

But the 24-year-old, from Attleborough, said that the popularity of the three-wheeled fibreglass cars is increasing and is proud to have accumulated one of the largest collections of Reliants in the country.

Every nook and cranny of the garage he runs with his father John at New Buckenham is covered with Reliant car parts, engines, bodywork and memorabilia and the forecourt is littered with plastic pigs in varying conditions dating from 1954 to 1998.

Mr Holland has collected almost 30 Regals, Robins, and Rialtos since he bought his first three-wheeler five years ago and now wants to create a museum for the much-loved cars, which ceased being made nine years ago.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Reliant Motor Company, and the Norfolk garage owner believes the brand should have its own dedicated shrine for motorcar fans.

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'Reliant was the second largest British car manufacturer, which is quite something, and at its height one came off the production line every six minutes, which is impressive for a hand-built car. There is no place where you can see every model of three wheeler to have ever been built and it would be a nice thing to do,' he said.

The former University of East Anglia student said he first caught the Reliant bug when he was studying business information systems in Norwich five years ago and realised that there was a huge online market for Reliant parts across the world.

Mr Holland, who is often seen driving around the streets of Norfolk in his favoured beige Reliant Regal Supervan, similar to the Trotters Independent Trading van in Only Fools and Horses, said his unique choice of transport usually turned heads and was mostly welcomed by the driving public.

However, eggs were thrown at his blue Rialto this year, which also was tipped over by four youths in May, causing extensive to its bodywork,

'Nine out of ten people will give you a wave and when you break down people stop to see if you need help, but a few drivers try to carve you up,' he said.

Mr Holland, who attends Reliant Owners' Club meetings across the country, said they were cheap to run and fuel efficient at more than 70 miles to the gallon. The 6ft 4inch former rugby player added that the small cars had plenty of leg room and could reach speeds of up to 125mph.

'They are very quick. Any car can be tipped if you drive too fast into a corner and if you drive it like you would a motorcycle you are fine. They are economic to run and the insurance, tax and MOT would cost about �300 a year,' he said.

And if he could have any car in the world, Mr Holland said he would choose the special edition Robin 65, featuring leather trim, walnut interior, and a numbered plaque, which was designed in 1999, and only 65 were produced.

He added: 'We are about the maddest people in the country!'