Economy Drive (Part One)

DTW remembers the once fraught and risky business of buying a second-hand car and recalls an alternative course for the impecunious.

Skoda 105 L ‘Estelle’. (c) Sunday Times

Before the introduction of effective consumer protection legislation and manufacturer-backed Approved Pre-Owned schemes, buying a used car was often a tricky and less than pleasant business. Even relatively new cars could harbour hidden problems beneath their highly polished paintwork. Franchised dealers seemed rather embarrassed to have to engage in the grubby business of selling second-hand cars, so they were often parked around the back of the lot, out of sight. When you arrived in the showroom, you could sense the salesman’s disappointment when he found out that you were not interested in one of the pristine new models on display indoors.

Given what a grim business buying a used car could be, is it any wonder that even the impecunious were desperate instead to buy new? To do so, they looked East, not to Japan, but behind the Iron Curtain. Low labour costs and a need to earn foreign currency meant that such cars were temptingly cheap. Today, we look at two Soviet Bloc cars available at bargain prices to buyers in Western Europe during the 1980’s and establish whether they had any appeal beyond their low prices.

The Škoda Estelle was a four-door saloon car manufactured in the former Czechoslovakia between 1976 and 1990. Its origins date back two generations, to the 1964 1000MB model, which employed the contemporarily popular rear-engined layout, as used in the Renault Dauphine, Simca 1000, Hillman Imp and, of course, the VW Beetle. By the time the Estelle was launched, only the VW Beetle and Simca 1000 were on sale in Europe and both would cease production within a couple of years.

Skoda 1000 MB. Image: Robertas Parazitas

Škoda engineers recognised that the rear-engined layout was hopelessly outdated and actually built a prototype FWD Estelle. It’s a moot point as to whether Škoda simply couldn’t afford the investment in FWD technology or the Soviet government refused to allow the Czech company to embarrass Russian domestic manufacturers with a more modern rival, but the FWD prototype was stillborn.

Incidentally, the ‘Estelle’ name was an invention of the company’s UK advertising agency and was not used outside the British Isles. Elsewhere, the car was known rather more prosaically as the 105 or 120, depending on engine size.

Car Magazine tested an Estelle Two 120L SE in January 1985 and was surprisingly polite about it. The Estelle Two was a facelifted model, with rectangular headlamps and a smoother front end. While not exactly pretty, the reviewer thought it quite well proportioned. They described the finish and equipment as “exemplary”.

The Estelle came with steel-belted radial tyres, mudflaps, a vinyl roof, halogen headlamps, a laminated windscreen and heated rear window, a radio-cassette player, tachometer, fully reclining bucket front seats with headrests, cloth upholstery and “a toolkit that would have done justice to a Boeing 747”. All for just £3,299 when a (very) basic Ford Escort cost well over £4,000.

Performance was leisurely, with a 90mph top speed and a 0 to 60mph time of around 20 seconds. There was an annoying engine boom at 4,000rpm, which unfortunately equated to 70mph in top gear.

(c) Autocar

The major concern with the Estelle was its handling. The combination of the rear-engined layout and swing-axle rear suspension meant it was prone to sudden breakaway oversteer when pushed beyond its limits. It was also easily upset by crosswinds. The reviewer thought that it was not treacherous, but neither was it fail-safe, unlike most contemporary cars. In conclusion, the reviewer paid the Estelle a rather back-handed compliment by concluding that it was no longer “the worst new car sold in Britain” as the magazine had previously asserted.

Both dynamic issues were addressed by Škoda later in 1985 with the introduction of a five-speed gearbox and adoption of the semi-trailing arm rear suspension from the Rapid Coupé, together with its wider rear track. The engine was also enlarged to 1,289cc. Some even came to regard the Rapid as a cut-price Porsche 911 alternative, given their shared mechanical layout (if little else).

Skoda Rapid Coupé. Image credit as shown.

The Estelle attracted a loyal following of owners in the UK, where over 120,000 were sold between 1977 and 1990. They were mechanically robust with only one significant problem, a tendency for the engine to overheat and blow head gaskets. This was caused by airlocks in the tortuous pipework connecting the front-mounted radiator to the rear engine.

If the Estelle had an indirect and distant relationship to the 1956 Renault Dauphine, the genesis of the Lada Riva was much more straightforward: it was simply a Fiat 124 with a Russian designed OHC engine in place of the Fiat OHV unit, rear drum instead of disc brakes, and a strengthened bodyshell and raised ride height to cope with the much more arduous Soviet Union driving conditions.

Vaz-210. (c) weirdrussia

It was first introduced in 1970 as the VAZ-2101 saloon and VAZ-2102 Estate. These early models were visually identical to the contemporary 124, which would continue in production until 1974, but later models would be subjected to numerous facelifts in a mainly futile or even counterproductive attempt to modernise the boxy 1960’s design. The car was sold for a decade under a bewildering range of different VAZ and Lada numeric monikers before becoming the Riva in the United Kingdom and Nova* in continental Europe.

By 1985, the Riva had acquired rectangular headlamps, larger bumpers with plastic end cappings, blacked-out window frames, recessed door handles, a bodyside rubbing strip and larger tail lights, all in an attempt to bring the old girl up to date. The 1500GLS model tested by Car Magazine also had a large and ostentatious chrome grille that was writing cheques the car simply couldn’t cash.

Lada 2107. (c) motor1

Inside, the original tidy Fiat dashboard with its strip speedometer was gone, replaced by a cliff-face of rather crude and cheap black plastic. This housed a vaguely sporting matching speedometer, tachometer and four minor gauges, which reminded the reviewer of 1960’s Italian cars of rather greater pedigree.

The front seats, with their ‘tombstone’ integrated headrests and fabric facings were really comfortable. Standard equipment included height-adjustable headlamps, internally adjustable driver’s door mirror, a heated rear window and a 21-piece toolkit. This top-of-the-range model cost £3,475, which was £350 less than the list price of an Austin Metro City!

The 77bhp 1,500cc engine gave a top speed of 95mph and a 0 to 60mph time of about 15 seconds. The steering was low-geared and rather vague, but the car handled safely with a tendency to understeer. The brakes were powerful but unprogressive and the rear drums tended to lock up too readily.

Lada Riva estate. (c) ranwhenparked

The major criticism of the Riva was the poor standard of finish, with crude welding, an inconsistent paint finish and cheap, fragile trim mouldings. Nevertheless, it was felt that the car would still appeal to those who needed an honest and boring workhorse that would probably soldier on for years with little attention. In reality, that was the only way economically to run a Riva (or Estelle) as they were deeply undesirable and heavily depreciated when offered as a trade-in, even for another similar model.

The Riva would sell steadily, albeit in declining numbers, right up to 1997 when tighter EU emissions standards forced its withdrawal from UK and European markets.

In Part Two, we’ll move forward five years and take a look at two new-era Eastern European cars, both wholly contemporary FWD hatchbacks.

* Vauxhall owned the rights to the ‘Nova’ name in the British Isles and would use it for its version of the Corsa A, so it was unavailable for Lada to use in these markets.

Author: Daniel O'Callaghan

Shut-line obsessive...Hates rudeness, loves biscuits.

36 thoughts on “Economy Drive (Part One)”

  1. The Skoda engine was unique because it combined an aluminium block with a cast iron head (up to S130, aluminium from S135).

    A friend of mine once bought a VAZ2103, the luxury version of Lada/Shiguli known as 1500 and based on the Fiat 124 Special. The car was a bit more than a year old for pocket money because it looked as if it were terminally corroded with dull paint and brown spots everywhere.
    It came with a toolkit weighing around forty kilograms including a grease gun, foot operated air pump, tyre levers and a tyre tube repair kit. It also had a phenomenally good heater and a special section of the manual giving operating instructions for temperatures below minus forty centigrade – take the battery in your home over night, drain coolant and oil and heat them up before pouring them (quickly) back into the engine, turn over engine with the crank handle and don’t switch off the engine when parking. It was impossible to set the ignition timing with a flash gun because the distributor was so badly made but it had a large knurled knob allowing fast manual adjustment of ignition timing to low octane fuel. On a longer trip the exhaust silencer split along its welding seam, sending lots of exhaust fumes into the interior. The spare part cost next to nothing and lasted a couple of months.
    The owner once fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed into the back of a lorry, bending the underrun protection bar. In the crash about twenty kilograms of filler fell off the car, exposing perfectly good and corrosion free metal, the brown spots having been reactions between filler and paint.

  2. These Skodas were not uncommon in Switzerland. I remember the TV advertising with the main selling argument: a price of 6,666 CHF (when usual cheap cars like a 2CV were somewhere below 10,000). It also showed the unusual, sideways-opening front boot lid.

    My art teacher in the early 90s had one of them. When we had early lessons in winter you could almost be sure he would appear late because his car wouldn’t start.

  3. In 1983 I moved to Munich (actually a shared apartment in a small village near Munich) and needed a cheap car to go to work. So I bought a run down Skoda 100 for some Deutsch Marks. The first thing was to get him some Fuel and Oil, then I got him a a more 50s look by add on rear wheel cover and a two tone paint. The Skoda was still running for almost half a year when the road authorities suggested that I better need to get another car…

    1. Hi Fred. That looks just brilliant with the wheel spats and two-tone paintwork! I’m sure there’s an old joke in there about doubling the value of a Škoda by adding fuel and oil. What a shame you had to get rid of it.

  4. I vividly remember Auto, Motor & Sport’s review of Lada’s ‘comeback car’ (I believe it was the 2110) in the early 2000s mentioning that its electric window switches got extremely hot at night, which I found quite amusing.

    1. Hi Wolfy888, and welcome to DTW. That’s a great left-field choice of company car. I can’t imagine that pre-VW Škodas featured on many user-chooser lists. Good to see it’s tough enough for farm work!

  5. Apart from both adopting the rear-engined layout, is there more to the connection between Skoda and Renault as have seen descriptions such as Renault-inspired/based and even half brother being applied to the rear-engined Skodas?

    The Renault 8 comparison is unlikely, while the Renault Dauphine link with Skoda brings to mind the later Hino Contessa.

    Not sure what it is exactly about the styling of the Estelle and Estelle Two that is appealing though quite like the look in spite of its rear-engined and initial suspension layout as well as not meriting to feature even the larger 1498-1595cc OHC prototype engines (or OHV equivalents) beyond the Rapid Gunsch to add some credibility to the cut-price Porsche alternative (with a more upmarket 1.5-1.6 Estelle 4-door being akin to an accessible cut-price Tatra). An elderly left-wing great relative had an earlier garish coloured Estelle with a habit its rear doors suddenly opening when taking corners, though usually saw it sitting on their driveway until they later replaced it with a mk1 Austin Metro.

    Also quite like the look of the Lada even the facelift proposals and unfortunate both it and the Niva never merited to receive 2-litres above the 1.7-litre petrols. While a number of Lada prototypes were made, is it known whether the Soviets were interested in replacing the 124-based Lada with a Fiat 131-based successor along similar lines as the Turkish built Tofas Sahin or locally built versions of Fiat’s obselete RWD models like the 132/Argenta had they been able to afford it?

    One car the UK missed out on would have to be the Lada Oka, maybe for the best (and probably could have done with the originally planned 3-cylinder engines) yet there is something rather appealing about the idea of Soviet / Eastern Bloc City Cars and Superminis.

    Find it interesting how Soviet / Eastern Bloc cars were able to carve out their own niche in parts of the UK and elsewhere.

  6. The risky business of buying a second hand car vs. a lovely new Lada Riva was the main shtick of Lada’s 1980’s advertising campaign in Britain, culminating in a memorable TV campaign about “Risque motoring” staring comedy double act Cannon and Ball. I suggest going on Youtube and searching for Cannon and Ball Lada ad.

    Regarding Bob’s comment about Lada etc carving out a niche in parts of Britain, they were a very common site in the East Riding during my childhood, as the Lada import centre was in Bridlington. It was probably a logical place to have it as it was close to the Humber ports and the area had a brief footnote in industrial history as a district with a lot of caravan makers. There was also a- possibly related- car accessory factory whose name escapes me but is still in business providing light bars for emergency vehicles, so car finishing was a neat fit with the area’s existing skills and supplier base. Don’t quote me as I can’t remember my source but for a time the Board of Trade allegedly counted Lada’s as a British built vehicle due to the volume of local content+ upsec’ing to market requirements +fault rectification that went on at the “Brid” site.
    I think Lada’s HQ moved to Penrith in Cumbria in the 1990s and when I was a student Nivas were fairly common site on hill farms in the area.
    Later on there was a thriving market in exporting RHD Ladas back to Russia from Hull, Russians were free to buy any car they could afford by then but what many people wanted was what they already knew.

  7. I always thought the rear-engined Škodas were very nicely balanced designs – it’s especially noticeable if you see them at the body-in-white stage in production. I don’t think the accessories added by the importer often did them many favours, though. Lots of in-class success in the RAC Rally, I recall.

    Here are a couple of short films showing preparations done by the importer and production in Czechoslovakia, as it was at the time.

    It’s worth checking out James May’s Cars Of The People series, if you can find it – I thought he did a good job on the Fiat 124 and its derivatives.

  8. The Estelle and Rapid coupé had a certain left-field appeal and still have a following. There’s a Škoda Owners’ Club in the UK. Here’s a lovely example of the Rapid featured on the club’s website:

    It’s got a real surprise around the back:

    Yes, that’s a Rover K-series 1.6 litre DOHC engine. Power output is doubled to 123bhp and there’s only a small weight penalty. The conversion and restoration work looks to be exemplary. Here’s the interior:

    It’s for sale and I would be tempted if I had any room or use for it! (The stuffed toy would have to go, though!)

  9. Surely the Skoda engine was not unique? The Chevrolet Vega engine similarly used a alloy block and iron head and at least a million were made, to slow handclaps of derision. However, I’m willing to bet Skoda made a better job of it than GM, if only because it was almost impossible to do worse. Trying out the GM version of Nikasil bores as a world first didn’t help Vega matters, either.

    The Skoda cars were a bit off as well. Canada was blessed by their presence (130 and woohoo 135) in the 1980s and the usual niche procession of masochists and adventure thrill seekers bought them to park by their campfires. The appearance of the Hyundai Pony at the same time and price did for it. The Ladas at least had tough mechanicals and the Niva 4×4 turned out to be a bit of a gem, far huskier than the Jimny. Rather like Russian tractors which did well in Canada, tough as old boots and easy to fix — they were imported as part payment for wheat. Now Russia exports wheat and no Ladas.

    1. Hi Bill. Another Eastern Bloc car with an aluminium block and cast-iron head engine was the 1956 GAZ M21 Volga. As far as I can gather, it was pretty tough and reliable, and was carried over to the M24 successor.

      We’ll shortly be covering the Volga, and the ZIL and ZIM limousines as part of this series on Eastern Bloc cars.

  10. No. Wrong. Not unique at all. For example, Cadillac HT4100 and derivatives were manufactured with iron cylinder head and alloy block.

    Rushed into production long before development was complete and fitted to vehicles it had not been designed to suit, the HT4100 was an innovative and clever design of the time. The block was die cast in aluminium with open decks. The cylinder head was in cast iron so as to cope with the severe temperatures created by emission requirements allied to fuel economy requirements.

    Die casting a V-8 cylinder block intended to house a camshaft in its valley is not trivial. Think about it. What tooling would allow die casting the cam-in-block V-8 architecture while also allowing for the block to be conveniently released once the aluminium had frozen? How could it be achieved? So, how was the problem solved?

    HINT 1: It was not solved by boring the cam tunnel deep into virgin aluminium after solidification. That would be too expensive and too slow.
    HINT 2: No sand core prints or inserts utilised- molds were in steel.
    HINT 3: Oldsmobile.

    See if you can work it out.

  11. Wiltshire County Constabulary had Lada Nivas as patrol cars back in the late 80s/early 90s. Given the 0-60 time of 19 seconds I can imagine that the only vehicles pulled over after a chase would have been combine harvesters or aged tractors.

    1. Good morning Andy. Here’s the offending article:

      In fairness, and given its excellent off-road ability, the Niva probably made sense in the more rural areas of the county.

  12. Good morning Daniel, and thank you, good spot! White wheels as well, could it be any more ’80s?

    1. It needs a big graphic saying ‘Turbo’ down the side.

      Seriously, I actually really like Nivas. An acquaintance was given one by a farmer, who I think had just got bored of it and parked it at the back of a barn; when he’d rinsed all the muck off it, it came up like new.

  13. A late afternoon in the winter of ’87, it has been snowing hard for a couple of hours and I am slogging up the Snake Pass (north Derbyshire) in an AEC Matador. Progress is suddenly halted by a stationary Skoda Rapid; the driver’s arm comes out of the window and points vigorously at the road ahead where a group of rep-mobiles (BMW 3-series, Cavaliers, etc.) are slithering about with madly spinning wheels, getting nowhere. One by one they give up, at which point the Skoda driver sets off without a trace of wheelspin, slaloms through the obstacle course they have left and disappears up the hill.
    Sometime later (it took a little time to clear a path wide enough for the AEC) I followed the Skoda’s wheeltracks through deep, crisp snow, thinking of its driver, now probably sitting smugly at home with his feet up while those would have sneered at his choice of car were trudging back down the hill to Glossop.

    1. Good morning JTC. When I first read your post I thought I spotted a typo and you meant this, an AMC Matador:

      Interesting (and very rare in the UK) choice, I thought, although you would have been better off with one of AMC’s 4wd models. Of course, there was no typo and you meant this, an AEC Matador:

      Now, that’s more like it!

  14. I remember the Skoda being one of the ‘Untouchables’ which featured in a cover-article in Car when it still covered all aspects of the automobile market and industry, rather than just the sporty/ glitzy/ glib bits which seem to dominate today. There was definitely a 2CV too, but I can’t recall whether Lada was there too. I am upset now that I got rid of it … but I do recall that the Skoda came out of it rather well. It must be old age …

    1. Oh, just found it on the web via Google – yes the Lada was there and … a Reliant Robin too: heaven!

  15. correction – the Reliant was the later Rialto (I had forgotten that they had changed the name for what became the end-of-the-line three-wheeler).

    1. Hi S.V. If I recall that road test, the Rialto was dismissed first because it was condemned as dangerously unstable. Reliant three-wheelers were really only popular because, in the UK, they were defined as a ‘tricycle’ and could be legally driven on a motorcycle licence. They were not cheap compared to, for example the Mini.

  16. Thank you Daniel for introducing me to the AMC Matador (every day’s a school day). But you located the right Matador – although ‘ours’ had a coachbuilt cab in place of the primitive original, utilising screen and front panel from a Leyland National, plus a Leyland 680 in place of the original AEC 7.7. Otherwise, the underpinnings were exactly as in your photo.
    But I must leap to the defence of the poor Reliant. Inherently unstable it most certainly was not and you had to do something insanely stupid to tip one over. It’s all alloy engine was a cracker, used to great success in Formula 750. You couldn’t actually legally drive one on a motorcycle licence – you needed a motor tricycle licence, for which the minimum age was 16. Hence my first ‘car’ being a Heinkel.

    1. If you liked that AMC Matador, have a gander at the comely coupe.

      And 007’s.

    2. Hi JTC. Thanks for putting me right on the licence issue. I wasn’t aware there was a difference between motorbike and tricycle licence, despite having one of the former.

      I think I might still have a copy of the CAR group test. I must dig it out to see exactly what they said about the Rialto. No doubt they were sensationalising the stability issues somewhat, in the manner of Clarkson’s infamous staged rollover:

  17. Hi Daniel,
    That was the second or third issue of CAR I ever bought, so I pored over every word! From memory I think the comment about stability was in part prompted by having to drive back from Wales to London in storm force cross-winds, which must have been a genuinely scary experience…

    1. OK – I’ll concede that a Reliant in a storm force cross-wind was a little challenging; but so was a Type 2 VW. The Reliant also had excellent traction on slippery surfaces, though finding somewhere to place the front wheel once deep ruts had formed was another matter…

  18. On the subject of the Estelle / Rapid’s suspension arrangement, how does it compare to the Renault 8 which many appear to believe is either derived or drew inspiration from?

    It also brings up the question of which mass-produced rear-engined cars such of the above along with the likes of the Hino Contessa, Hillman Imp, Simca 1000, NSU Prinz 1000 / Type 110 and the Volkswagen Variant II, etc can arguably be considered to have featured the best suspension arrangement with regards to handling and mitigating the inherent drawbacks of the rear-engined layout prior to the Porsche 993’s multi-link suspension system?

    The Hillman / Rootes Swallow prototype was also said to have had excellent handling with MacPherson Strut suspension at the front and IIRC Imp-like Trailing Arms at the rear.

  19. The following thoroughly modernized Estelle prototype is known as the 1978 Skoda 742 Maxi and featured integrated bumpers as well as other improvements, it was apparently a parallel project competing against what became the Skoda Estelle Two / Skoda 130 from 1983-1984.

    It is not quite clear however if the Skoda 742 Maxi was yet another ill-fated Skoda 120/130-based front-engined prototype or still featured a rear-mounted engine beneath the modernized body.


    1. That prototype appears to have shorter front and rear overhangs than the Estelle. It’s quite good looking in a chunky way, a bit reminiscent of the original Toyota Tercel:

    2. Not 100% sure about the front TBH apart from the integrated bumpers, find it a bit too anonymous compared to the 130 / Estelle Two.

      Also based on the following Czech language link, it seems Skoda also looked at fitting the 120 / Estelle with a 1366cc turbodiesel engine by Fratelli Negri Macchine (FNM) that was also used in some versions of the FSO Polonez and in 45 hp non-turbodiesel form the Premier Padmini. – https://www.autorevue.cz/wankel-diesel-i-turbo-takto-skodovky-s-motorem-vzadu-asi-neznate

      Despite the slight apparent difference in displacement, it is interesting to note the the FNM diesel appears to share the same bore and stroke as the 1367cc Fiat 124 Series turbodiesel engine used in the Fiat Uno yet am sure there is more to the story (possible divergent development and all).

      Here is a rough English translation of the diesel prototype portion.

      “Their existence was taken care of by the Italian company FNM (Fratelli Negri Macchine), founded in 1971, which began the development of liquid-cooled compact diesel in 1978 in cooperation with Fiat.

      The result was a four-cylinder, turbocharged 1.3 GD 178 AT with an aluminum head, which had its world exhibition premiere in 1980 at the Turin Motor Show and its paper parameters did not look bad at all.

      The engine had a bore of 78 mm, a stroke of 71.5 mm and a cylinder capacity of 1366 cm 3 . At a compression ratio of 21.0: 1, it was capable of producing 60 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and a maximum torque of 103 newton meters was available at 3,500 rpm. The FNM was equipped with Bosch or CAV injection, while the exhaust-powered turbocharger bore the designation IHI RH. And how did this diesel get into the Škoda?

      The Italians developed an engine of the GD 178 AT series for passenger cars up to an unladen weight of 1300 kg, not for a specific brand, so even before the world premiere they started courting with several car manufacturers. Their technology gradually came under the hood of the Fiat Ritmo, Ford Fiesta, Fiat 132, Volkswagen Golf and also behind the rear axle of the Škoda 742.

      In order for the cooperation to have the hallmark of officiality, the National Property Fund signed an agreement with the foreign trade company Motokov and the rebuilt cars arrived in Czechoslovakia in 1981. In addition to the new engine, a lubrication pressure gauge, oil thermometer and filling pressure indicator other stopwatches.

      As we said, the tabular data looked decent, but the reality was a bit worse. During the tests, the technicians measured the highest power of 57 hp at 4800 rpm and the highest torque of 93 newton meters available at 2700 rpm. All this was enough for the Škoda to reach a maximum speed of 140 kilometers per hour, but it was not so easy and ideal.

      The diesel with dimensions of 603 x 522 x 627 mm weighed up to 145 kg and, according to the periodical press, the test pilots considered it noisy and the average consumption was not optimistic. Automobil magazine literally wrote that “after installing the supercharged diesel engine in the Škoda 120, its curb weight increased by 80 kg. Such a change, concentrated at the rear axle, would require long-term operational tests of strength and reliability before approval by the manufacturer. In addition, it would seriously impair the values ​​of the static and dynamic stability of the vehicle and significantly impair its driving characteristics. ”

      This may not need further comment, but what was worse, nor did the efficiency of the operation appear in the best light. “Even the results of consumption measurements fell far short of expectations, as Škoda Turbo Diesel consumed approximately the same amount of diesel as Škoda 105 petrol. Even after a new adjustment of the engine by the manufacturer in the event of a complaint of disproportionately high consumption. ”

      As a result, the fate of the one hundred and twenty diesel was basically sealed, but if you think the FNM gave up, you are wrong. We demonstrably know that a small diesel got a little later among the front wheels of the Favorit. This was due to a Luxembourg Škoda importer who had a supercharged thirteen engine with 60 horsepower fitted to a Mladá Boleslav car with a new concept, and although the client was enthusiastic, hesitation with production at the time of AZNP’s talks with Volkswagen was sold only a few cars.”

    1. All this talk of Reliant Robins reminds me of a time I was in a garage getting some new boots fitted to my Rover SD1. A guy walks in and asks whether they can take a look at a problem on his Robin, and they say ‘yeah just stick it on that ramp over there’. The owner turned around and looked rather confused as to where his front wheel was meant to go…

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