A car fanatic yesterday unveiled Britain’s largest collections of three-wheelers – worth a staggering £60,000.
Dedicated James Holland, 24, has bought and painstakingly restored 28 of the iconic ‘plastic pigs’ made famous by Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses.
His collection features cars spanning almost 40 years – from 1953 to 1992 – and includes several rare one-offs and limited edition vehicles.
The hoard is the most comprehensive in Britain and is thought to be one of the biggest private collections in the world.
Marketing graduate James, who at 6ft 4ins tall, admits cuts a bizarre figure behind the wheel of his beige Reliant Regal Supervan, became fascinated with the cars as a student.
Derek ”Del Boy” Trotter famously drove the same model in a distinctive grubby yellow, emblazoned with ”Trotter’s Independent Trading Co.” and ”Paris – New York – Peckham”.
James’ collection includes 12 Reliant Robins, nine Reliant Regals, six Reliant Rialtos and a Bond Bug, also made by Reliant.
But his pride and joy is a pristine gold 1998 Commemorative Edition Reliant Robin – the only vehicle made by Reliant which boasts a full leather interior.
Each vehicle is restored by James and his dad John Holland, 63, who has run the family’s garage for 42 years.
James, of New Buckenham near Norwich, Norfolk, hopes to open up his stunning collection to the public and create a Reliant museum, as the cars ‘play a crucial role in motoring history’.
He said: ”I love the cars because they are so unique and iconic.
”I will admit there probably aren’t many people my age driving them and you do have to have a sense of humour to drive one, but they are excellent cars.
”They are different to the run-of-the-mill cars you see churned out now and it would be really nice if they could be remembered in some way.
”Reliant was the second biggest British car manufacturer at one time, which is impressive, but there is nowhere where you can see every model displayed together.
”That seems a shame. It would be a great thing to have a museum where people could see the whole collection together.
”The Reliant Robin is an iconic car and at the company’s height once came off the production line every six minutes.
”My interest started at university when I discovered there was a huge online market for old parts which we often came across at the garage.
”I find there’s plenty of room inside for me to drive although I had to move the seat back two inches to make my Robin Reliant more comfortable.”
James has an additional 2,500 Reliant spare parts at his Castle Hill Garage, which he sells these online to fellow enthusiasts.
The Reliant Motor Company was formed in 1935 when T.L. Williams built the first prototype three-wheeler which became the Reliant van.
The popular vehicle could be operated with just a motorcycle licence and in 1952 the Reliant Regal was launched.
It was replaced by the Reliant Robin in 1973 which was produced until 1981 when the Reliant Rialto took its place.
But the Robin was back due to popular demand in 1989 and was again remodelled in 1999.
The company closed in 2001 after sales of the Reliant fell to just ten a week although more than 5,000 Reliant three-wheelers are still registered on UK roads.
James said if he could have any car in the world he would shun Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s and supercars in favour of – a special edition Robin 65.
The car features a leather trim, walnut interior, and a numbered plaque, which was designed in 1999, and only 65 were produced.
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson was blamed for a spate of car-tipping earlier this year after a broadcast in June showed him rolling the car on every corner he drove round.
James, who is a member of the Reliant Owners’ Club, said he wasn’t surprised people poked fun at the car.
He woke up earlier this year to find eggs had been thrown at his blue Rialto, which was also tipped over by four youths in May, causing extensive to its bodywork,
James added: ”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.
”Mostly I get a good response but there are cases of youngsters tipping the cars over.
”People think that Clarkson started the craze but it was already going on. He has just introduced it to a new generation.”
Reliant also produced a number of four-wheelers including the Rebel, Kitten and Fox and the Scimitar and Sabre sports car.