Reliant TW9

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Reliant TW9
Reliant TW9 848cc registered May 1979.jpg
Also calledReliant Ant
DesignerTom Karen of Ogle Design
Body and chassis
Body style3-wheel light commercial suitable for a variously configured load area
Engine700 cc OHV light alloy Straight-4

750 cc OHV light alloy Straight-4

850 cc OHV light alloy Straight-4

The Reliant Ant, also known as the Reliant TW9 (Three Wheeler 9) is a small three-wheeler pickup truck produced by the Reliant Motor Company in Tamworth (England) between 1967 and 1987. It was designed and built as a business utility vehicle as it was produced as a roadsweep, catering van, full tilt flat bed, solid flatbed, standard van, watertanker and a 5th wheel artic version.

After Reliant finished producing the Ant it continued in production with various other companies under licence until 1995, orders were usually plentiful as the Ant was much favoured by councils.


The Ant possessed a box section metal chassis. At the front, directly behind the single front wheel, a 700 cc four-cylinder four-stroke engine was installed, delivering a claimed 27.5 bhp (20 kW) of power. Above the front wheel and engine was a glass-fibre cabin with space for two and an aerodynamic front and two round headlights. Despite its apparent simplicity the cabin design incorporated gentle curves and creases to enhance structural strength. The rear wheels drove the vehicle to a maximum speed of 54 mph (86 km/h) and overall fuel consumption of 8.1 lt./100 km was quoted.

LHD version[edit]

The left-hand drive version offered a load capacity of 500 kg and was intended to compete in Mediterranean countries with vehicles such as Piaggio's Ape (bee). Early on, Reliant's Greek partner MEBEA ordered 250 of the Ants.

RHD version[edit]

For the right-hand drive domestic market a more challenging load capacity of 800 kg was envisaged, but without a more powerful engine the vehicle struggled to handle this load weight. Target customers in the UK were mostly local government agencies. Reliant sold the TW9 as a chassis/cab and a wide range of uses was found for it. A flat-bed truck, various closed delivery van bodies, a small water tanker, a refuse truck, a street drain clearer and a snow plough all appeared. There was even a road sweeper and an articulated tractor-unit. The price for a chassis and cabin was quoted as £451.


Early versions of the Ant used Reliant's 700cc engine with 29 hp but in 1972 engine capacity was increased to 748 cc with claimed output of 32 bhp (23.5 kW). Performance benefitted. By this time Greek partner MEBEA was building the vehicles under license. After 1975 reliant fitted their all new 850cc engine with 45 hp, this was made to attain 50 mph and get a claimed 60mpg. Ants had very low gear axle ratios for pulling weight and attaining low speeds (40 to 50 mph).

All Ants had a 4 speed gearbox with reverse.

Customer Base[edit]

The whole reason the Ant has such a long production run was because no other vehicle had as much variety in terms of vehicle configuration for so many jobs (as seen in introduction), the Ant also could be bought just as a cab with chassis back for customers to fit whatever rear they wanted. Councils in England, Wales and Scotland bought large numbers of Reliant Ants as roadsweeps in the 1970s and 1980s, along with other versions. Dublin Corporation in Ireland in the 1970s purchased 60 Ants for municipal duties.

See also[edit]


  • Pither, Don: Reliant Regal & Robin, Sutton Publishing Ltd., Stroud (2001), ISBN 0-7509-2521-3
  • Reliant Motor Club