Reliant TW9 – an Ant, which was useful everywhere

Reliant TW9 – an Ant, which was useful everywhere

You probably remember the little blue three-wheeler van that constantly had to deal with trouble caused by Mr. Bean. Well, it had a tougher brother in a shape of Reliant TW9. This truck, commonly known as the Ant, was a small three-wheeler pickup, which was very useful in a variety of applications.

Reliant was famous British manufacturer of small cars, most of which had only three wheels. Reliant Ant was a little different in a way, because it was a truck rather than a car. It had three wheels, but that didn’t get in its way of finding work in many different areas.

TW9 was introduced in 1967. It was a small pickup truck with one wheel in the front and a normal driven axle at the rear. It had a decently strong steel frame with a fiberglass cabin for two people. At first, Ant was equipped with a 700 cc engine, producing 27.5 bhp (20 kW) of power, but in 1972 a new 748 cc engine, making 32 bhp (23.5 kW), was introduced. The improvement was welcomed, because Reliant Ant was very slow and didn’t like carrying heavier loads. In 1975 Reliant started putting its 850 cc engine in the Ant, which had 45 hp (33.6 kW).

Reliant Ant was offered as a pickup truck. (Ian Roberts, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 2.0)

Interestingly, RHD and LHD Ant’s were different. TW9 meant for the domestic market had a loading capacity of 800 kg, even though it really didn’t like that sort of weight on its back. Councils in England, Wales and Scotland bought large amounts of Reliant Ant’s and used them in a variety of applications.

The chassis and cabin was said to cost £451. They were carrying water tanks, pushing snow plows, worked as refuse trucks and much more. People still remember Reliant Ant working as a road sweeper, while companies enjoyed tipper, van and fixed flatbed versions. Probably the most unusual looking is the Ant with a fifth wheel – in this configuration it was one of the weirdest semi-trucks in the world. Surely, the trailer had to be light, but they said that Reliant Ant could pull more than it could carry on its frame.

Reliant Ant could work as a Semi-Truck as long as the trailer is light. (Gregory Baser, Pinterest)

Meanwhile LHD version was mostly aimed at the Mediterranean region, where it was set to compete against Piaggio’s three-wheelers. LHD Ant could carry only 500 kg worth of cargo, but that was a much more comfortable weight for the tiny engine anyway. Eventually Greek company MEBEA started building these trucks under licence.

Reliant finished production of the TW9 in 1987 – it was manufactured there for 20 years. However, some other companies continued making the Ant under licence until 1995. Eventually businesses started using larger, more powerful trucks and delivery vans. Reliant Ant was not very durable or fast, which eventually caused it to go out of production. Now people are actually looking to buy Reliant Ant’s – enthusiasts see them as fun restoration projects and even turn them into fun-looking camper vans.

Also read:

Scammel Scarab – it is not your ordinary semi-truck – it is the mechanical horse;

Goliath GD 750 – three-wheeler truck with a tiny engine was more useful than it looks;

General Motors Bison – a vision of trucks of the future from 1964. Why didn’t it stick?

Goliath GD 750 – three-wheeler truck with a tiny engine was more useful than you’d think

Goliath GD 750 – three-wheeler truck with a tiny engine was more useful than you’d think

Truck is a very important tool for many businesses around the world. In fact, for many businessmen it is difficult to imagine smooth operations and success in a competitive market without a truck. But in some periods in history trucks were difficult to purchase. That is why Goliath GD 750 could be considered one of the saviours of smaller German businesses after WW2.

Goliath company was established in Bremen in 1928. The company made its name by manufacturing small three-wheeler cars and some of them were quite successful. In 1931 Goliath introduced the Pioneer, which became one of the most successful cars in its class. Several thousands of them were sold without much effort. However, as you may imagine, the war paused the car industry. But even after it ended Germany did not look too good.

There were many different body modifications of the Goliath GD 750, but all of them could carry no more than 750 kg os weight. (Wouter Duijndam, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 2.0)

When WW2 was over, people were lacking many things, including hope and economic resources. As years went by, things began looking better and businesses started needing tools for further development. And that is how in 1949 Goliath introduced the new kind of truck – GD 750. It was an affordable small truck with one wheel in the front and a more conventional driven axle in the rear.

Goliath GD 750 today looks tiny, but it was a useful tool back in the 1950’s. (Lothar Spurzem, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 2.0 de)

GD 750 was essentially a pickup truck, but it was also sold as a van. It was what small businesses and farmers needed – an affordable means of transporting goods. Standard GD 750 had a 398 cc two stroke two cylinder engine, which was driving rear wheels through a 4-speed manual gearbox. This tiny engine (it is a truck, after all) produced 14 hp, which was enough to get to around 50 km/h. Presumably, top speed suffered if you loaded your truck too heavy. However, a little more expensive version had a 465 cc engine, which made 15 hp and allowed the GD 750 to reach 55 km/h.

Less than a hundred of these van version were made. (RudolfSimon, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

A simple pickup truck version of the GD 750 was the most popular, but there were 26 different body options. Stores opted for vans and farmers chose special trucks for carrying cattle. Limited power meant that the maximum load ingcapacity was just 750 kg, hense the name of the truck.

The interior was very simple – GD 750 was a tool and not a luxury vehicle. (Eckhard Henkel, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0 de)

Goliath GD 750 cost around 3.6-4.4 thousand Deutsche marks. It really did spread through the West Germany – around 30 thousand trucks were made until 1955 when the production ceased. In 1958 the Goliath brand also disappeared from the map.

Today GD 750 is just a cool vintage vehicle people restore and keep in their collections. (AlfvanBeem, Wikimedia)

Interestingly, Goliath GD 750 now is a valuable collection piece. Not many survived until today, because people of the period did not value these old trucks. Those who have driven it say that it was actually quite stable, especially if it had more weight at the back, but very slow – 50 km/h is not really the speed modern pickup trucks max out at.

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