The ultimate pocket rocket?
When Reliant replied to the "not enough power" solution,
they turned to the far east for a solution in the form of the 1800Ti, namely
Nissan. Their CA18ET engine was a very small (externally) engine, but
with electronic fuel and ignition control gave a respectable 135bhp from its
non-intercooled 1809cc. The turbo was a Garrett T2 unit (unlike the T3
usually used in engines this size), which whilst limiting overall
performance, brought the boost in low down in the rev range giving excellent driveability from just above tickover to the redline at 6700rpm. Apart
from a new trim style, different K&N "Diamond" alloy wheels and a small boot
spoiler, it was identical to its 1300,1400 and 1600 siblings.
Magazine test results bore out the performance improvement, achieving as low as
6.7s for the 0-60 dash, and top speeds around the 125mph mark. At
last the factory offered the performance of mine, and what the excellent
chassis had been crying out for. The chassis was now galvanised (as
were all later "single" wiper vehicles); this allied to the legendary robust
nature of a Japanese engine ensured for a long life.
Whilst the styling was virtually unchanged, save the new
wheels and boot spoiler, the first hurdle was to get people into the car.
Once they were, however, the mind can easily be converted to the way these
cars drive. Smooth, yet determined handling made this a stunning
drivers car, and also extremely competitive at motorsport. A standard
car can see off a 3.0 GTE due to its impressive power to weight ratio, and
its outstanding turning circle.
It has become apparent that the 135bhp quoted by Reliant &
Nissan for the engine was a little pessimistic; The engine may have made
this in it's donor vehicle (the Nissan Sylvia), but due to a better (read
less restrictive) exhaust system fitted by Reliant the engine seems to make
about 10bhp more in totally standard form. At the
RSSOC National Sporting Weekend in
2005 a portable rolling road was showing figures between 140 and 149bhp for
standard cars; the addition of a bleed valve (for a few psi more boost) adds
another 10-15bhp with no ill effects. This is before thinking about
There is always a downside; with just over 300 examples
made, there aren't enough to go round, although Paul
Maddison seems to have found about 10% of the total production over the
last 10 years...