By Maz Woolley
All photographs by, and copyright of, the Author. The real cars are to be seen at the Bubble Car Museum in Lincolnshire.
The Bond three-wheeler is a long way from James Bond’s style of transport! Designed by Laurie Bond and built by Sharps Commercials Bond three-wheelers were made between 1949 and 1966. They grew in the climate of post war austerity and were intended to be more civilised than a motor bike and sidecar and cheaper to buy and than a full size car. By the end of production they were fitted with an 875cc Hillman Husky engine and were said to be frighteningly fast. In the early days a small Villiers motor cycle engine mounted on a swivelling front suspension unit powered the car via a chain drive.
The lightweight three wheeler was encouraged in the UK by the fact that if it had no reverse gear fitted it could be drive on a motorcycle licence and as it was taxed as a motorcycle combination it was a lot cheaper to tax than a car.
The kit that this post is looking at is by Tober Models which is sold by Kingfisher Models. It is a white metal kit made to 1:43 scale of a Bond Type D from 1958 and is listed as still available in their 2017 catalogue along with some other three-wheelers from BSA, Reliant, Messerschmidt and James. It is a simple kit which allows it to be displayed hood up or hood down.
The 1958 Type D was sold in four versions: the two/three seater Standard Tourer and Deluxe Tourer and the four seat (two adult front seats and two child-size inward facing hammock-style seats) Standard Family Safety and Deluxe Family Safety. The model is of the basic Standard Tourer. For the Type D Villiers had upgraded the 197cc engine with a new four plate clutch and a heavier final drive chain with a higher top-gear ratio. This gave a cruising speed of around 45 mph and a top speed of 51 mph. 12 volt electrics were introduced allowing more powerful headlights with separate side-lights within the headlamp units. The standard model had to be manually started but the deluxe had a useful Dynastart as well as front wing chrome strips.
Although a simple kit the Bond is captured well and the utilitarian nature of the kit is in keeping with the original!
Although three-wheelers were a common sight on the UK roads there have not been any models from industrial manufacturers. Corgi‘s made a contemporary Bond Bug and a Reliant TW9 Commercial. Lledo/Corgi and others made a Reliant Supervan to allow a TV related Del-Boy “Trotters Traders” version as seen in the popular UK TV programme “Fools and Horses“, A series of all models of the Bond was sold by Rod Ward all now long sold out. A Reliant Regal Saloon was also made in his Bijou transkit range, again all long sold, to allow a Lledo Van to be made into a 3/75 Saloon. Jodie Models/Illustra made a rather clumsy Reliant Robin. In 1:76 Parker Models do the Reliant Supervan and Regal saloon, and Autosculpt do some solid Bond three-wheelers in varying small scales.
Three-wheelers were an important part of the UK motoring scene for two decades and it is a shame that models are scarce. One reason is perhaps because they held little international appeal which limits sales potential.
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