|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door utility|
|Engine||848 cc Straight-4|
|Transmission||4 speed manual|
|Wheelbase||84.5 inches (2146 mm)|
|Length||133 inches (3380 mm)|
|Width||61 inches (1540 mm)|
|Height||60 inches (1520 mm)|
The Reliant Fox is a small four wheeled glass-fibre utility vehicle manufactured by the Reliant Motor Company in Tamworth, England between 1983 and 1990. It used Reliant's own 850 cc aluminium engine, and a galvanised chassis similar to the Reliant Kitten's.
The Fox was the next in a long line of small 4 wheeled economy cars produced by Reliant. The base vehicle was a pickup in design but could be sold with any corresponding rear hard top for any job wanted.
A rear hard top could be bought to build an estate, a van, a canvas rear pickup, basic pickup or half convertible.
The Fox has an interesting history. Reliant has exported technology and designs to several companies and countries, including MEBEA in Greece (Robin and TW9 models), but in the case of this car an almost "reverse" course was followed. Indeed, in the late 1970s MEBEA attempted to develop a "passenger-utility" vehicle, a type very popular in Greece at the time due to a law allowing such cars to be taxed as "commercial vehicles". In that respect it was one of several companies to build such a vehicle in this country, including Namco, Autokinitoviomihania Ellados, MAVA, Automeccanica and others. MEBEA, which had already built the Reliant Robin under licence, modified the four-wheel chassis of the Reliant Kitten in order to accommodate higher loads and developed the prototype of a light utility vehicle with glass-fibre reinforced composite body. For the body design, the Greeks appear to have been inspired by an earlier Italian car, the 1974 Fiore 127 Gypsy. In order to produce it, though, MEBEA had to deal with the hurdle of obtaining type certification; this process was particularly complex for locally developed "passenger cars" (unlike other types of vehicles) in Greece. Thus, MEBEA did what other Greek companies had also done: it sought a partner abroad (the procedure was much easier for vehicles already certified in another country). Reliant was the obvious choice and the British company was involved in the final development and certification of the production version.
The car was produced by MEBEA in Greece as the MEBEA Fox between 1979 and 1983, when the law favouring such cars was changed; sales dropped and production was terminated (a total of about 3000 had been produced).
After this Reliant reused the design for themselves instead of shelving it, the Fox had a massive amount of details changed from the Greek version with Reliant apparently spending £500,000 on alterations for the UK version. Reliant started producing the Fox in the Tamworth factory in 1983, as an informal successor to the Kitten.
About 600 were built in the UK until 1990.
After production finished a later restyle was designed using a hatchback from the later Robin and the front end design similar to the Reliant Metrocab but this never got further than the drawing board stage.
A 'Preservation Society' exists for 4 wheeled small Reliants called the Reliant Kitten Register.
The Mebea Fox was a design created around the Reliant Kitten, a Kitten chassis and 10 inch wheels made a rolling chassis with the Fox's body been a complete new design from scratch for a "fun in the sun vehicle". Like the Kitten, it used the standard Reliant 850cc engine and standard axle ratio of 3.23/1.
For the UK version of the Fox there were a number of alterations, the most noticeable is the front of the Fox gained a skirt for better aerodynamics at speed, the car also now had 12-inch wheels for better grip and ride comfort, brakes also had some alterations.
Under the skin, the Fox now had the Reliant E economy (nick-named the yellow top) engine which gave the car a greater MPG figure and more low end torque. To go with this engine, the axle ratio was changed to 4/1 for pulling weight, rather than speed. The chassis was galvanised for better resistance to corrosion. heavier springs and a more robust tiebar setup on the front end made for a more commercial vehicle.
The Reliant Tempest 850 two seater sports car and the Vantique van were built new ,using all Fox parts.
Top speed: 78mph MPG: 60mpg Hp: 39hp
- "Quattroruote, Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1982-1983", Editoriale Domus, Milano (1982) (in this book the MEBEA Fox is erroneously presented as "Fox-MEBEA")
- "Daily Express Guide to 1982 World Cars", Motorfair Edition (1981)