BY TOBY PORTER
It is everything you could want in a car: A nodding tiger, striped, faux fur seat covers, fluffy dice, formica dashboard, fake leather steering wheel cover, roof rack with suitcase, a set of blow-up plastic dolls, a “tax disc” – or, more accurately, a tacked-up sign which says “tax in post”, and the sign “Trotters Independent Trading – New York, Paris, Peckham”.
Lovely Jubbly. All yours for a knock-down – well, what are you prepared to offer?
You really could own South London’s most famous motor– and not this time next year, either. One of the most distinctive vehicles to have appeared on British TV is coming up for auction on November 11.
The Reliant Regal van driven by Del Boy and Rodney in Only Fools and Horses is for sale – with no reserve price, meaning that this slice of automotive history could be a steal. The famous yellow Reliant Regal three-wheeler van – usually described incorrectly as a Reliant Robin – dates from 1968.
For the real fan, it also has a switch on the dashboard which emits smoke for the exhaust pipe, to give added authenticity. Registration number BWC 94F, it was used in the 2002 Christmas special If They Could See Us Now, when Del Boy and Rodney drove it in Monaco.
It also featured in the BBC DVD The Story of Only Fools and Horses as well as in several issues of the comedy show’s fanzine Hookie Street. Letters in the BBC files to the then owner John Mansfield confirm its authenticity. With 71,778 miles on the clock, it has the correct 598cc engine, developing a heady 25bhp, which has been reconditioned.
It also has what at least looks like a valid MoT certificate to June 2018 and comes with the original owner’s handbook. Road tax is another question entirely.
Non-standard features included on the TV special include the interior trimmed entirely in tacky tiger-skin print, the obligatory furry dice hanging from the rear-view mirror, rubber mats with “Del Boy” written on the driver’s side and “Rodney” on the passenger side, a roof rack complete with battered suitcase – and inflatable plastic sex dolls which show up in the back window, as seen in the TV series.
What it does not have is a plonker, but no one is quite sure what that is. There is also a remote control key start – which can be operated from up to 50 metres away – a DVD player and cassette radio along with a smoke machine which emits clouds from the exhaust when a dashboard-operated valve is opened.
Nick Whale, managing director of Silverstone Auctions, which is selling the Reliant, said: “Del Boy’s Reliant Regal is one of the most distinctive cars of BBC comedy history.
“Only Fools and Horses has a fan base spanning several generations and is something of a British treasure, so to have the van from the series for auction is a real treat which will no doubt draw the crowds.
“Disregarding its TV provenance, this car is probably that most reliable example of this marque that you will find.”
The 1968 Reliant Regal van and the other 134 lots are being auctioned on November 11 and 12 during the NEC Classic Motor Show.
Visit www.silverstoneauctions.com for more information.