Three wheel cars, or tricars, have been around since the late 1800s. They came with either two wheels in the front or two wheels in the rear. Because tricars did not have a fourth wheel and were light weight, they were cheap to insure. Insurance prices for tricars were the same for motorcycles. One tricar with two wheels in the rear is the Reliant Robin. It was produced from 1973 to 1981 and reproduced from 1989 to 2002. It has been considered one of the worst cars ever made for being slow, underpowered, and rolls on its side when under braking or turning.
The wheel configuration greatly affected the Robin's lateral stability. The front of the car balances on one wheel. There needs to be even left-right weight distribution for the car to be balanced The left-right weight distribution is about 50-50, but when there is a driver and no passenger, there is no counterweight to balance the car. When the car brakes or turns, it would turn over on the side where the driver is. This is dangerous not just for the driver, but for any cars driving along the side of the Robin.
Not only does the Reliant Robin have problems with stability, but it is underpowered and slow. The Robin originally came with 748cc I4 that produce 32 hp and 46 lb-ft of torque. Later Robins came with a 848cc I4 engine that produced 40 hp and 46 lb-ft of torque. Both engines were paired with a four-speed manual transmission. The 748cc engine got the Robin from 0 to 60 mph in 22 seconds with a top speed of 80 mph. The 848cc engine got the Robin from 0 to 60 mph in 16.1 seconds with a top speed of 85 mph. No matter what engine was in it, the Robins was slow and sluggish.
During Series 15 of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson proved that the Reliant Robin could not corner without tipping over. He drove it in a town and tipped over several times. He drove it around the test track and did not make it through the first corner without tipping over. The Stig tried to drive the Robin around the test track, and tipped over when trying to get past the first corner. Top Gear tried to use the Reliant Robin as a space shuttle during Series 9, Episode 4. The fuel tank did not disconnect with the Robin, and the Robin exploded when it crashed.
The Reliant Robin had horrible lateral stability because it was balancing on a single front wheel. It constantly tipped over when braking or turning and was a hazard not just for the driver, but for other cars on the road. Add a small, weak engine and poor performance, the Reliant Robin is one of the worst cars ever made. Somehow, there is a fan club and an owners club for the Reliant Robin. It is surprising that people are proud to own one.
Picture taken from www.BBC.co.uk