Sunday, November 09, 2008

Ranting Stan's Sunday Drive: Bond Bug

For people under the age of around 35 who thought that Smart invented the concept of the microcar, the Bond Bug will be something of a surprise. For people of my age it will bring back fond memories of a less pretentious and self-conscious time.

The Bond Bug was a 2 seater, three wheeler car built by Reliant in the early to mid seventies. Not only was it one wheel short compared to most cars it also didn't have any doors - the whole upper body lifting up and tilting forward instead to allow access and exit from the car. Alternatively you could remove the side panels - necessary in summer as the car didn't have any opening windows either!

Powered by a 700cc engine the Bug was not exactly quick, but it's performance was reasonable for the time. What was less acceptable to the public was the price. The Bond Bug cost more than a Mini 850 offered less space, fewer seats and wheels, offered little benefit in performance and was only available in a bilious orange colour. Consequently it sold poorly and was discontinued in 1974 after shifting less than 2,500 units..

If anything, the Bond Bug proves that people in the seventies were less impressed by style over substance than their modern day contemporaries. After all, why do people buy the appalling Smart car when they can get a proper 4 seater car for less? You can't even drive the Smart on a provisional licence - one of the benefits of a 3 wheeler.

Not a car I ever got to drive or even be driven in, my memories of the little Bug are mostly seeing several of the orange monstrosities around and about on the streets of Slough. I recall looking down from the top deck of the 66 bus one day and seeing three of the them in the queue of traffic at the lights outside the town hall. For some reason we had a lot of these little cars in our local area at the time - mind you, we also had a proliferation of Beach Buggys around the same time and Slough is a long way from any beaches.

I'm not a fan of the Bug, but it was certainly an iconic little thing. Everything about it screams out the era from which it comes and, being from the seventies, it seems to reflect the hope and happiness which I recall from those times (very much at odds with the way they are portrayed today). It may have been crap, but it made you smile.

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