Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 146,909 pages of information and 232,835 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Reliant: Kitten

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Reliant Kitten Estate.
1976. Kitten. Reg No. OMC 509R. Exhibit seen at Boconnoc Steam Fair July 2011.

Note: This is a sub-section of Reliant.


The Reliant Kitten is a small economy car which was manufactured from 1975 to 1982 by the Reliant Motor Company in Tamworth. It has a glass fibre body and an 848 cc aluminium engine, providing economical performance. Chassis, engine, and running gear are shared (with minor modifications), with the Reliant: Fox Utility / Pick-Up.

In October 1976, a year after introduction, a new deluxe version of the Kitten, branded as the Kitten DL, was announced. Improvements included revised springs and dampers and a changed anti-roll bar. Under the bonnet were carburettor and air cleaner modifications, claimed to give better cold start characteristics, while interior improvements included more comfortable seats, modified door trims incorporating a map pocket, and a new style tray to cover the luggage space behind the back seat.

The rear section of the chassis is essentially the same as the Reliant: Robin or Reliant: Rialto, however from the middle onwards it is all change, with the engine moving forwards to where the Robin's front wheel is, and then Reliant's own, (but Triumph inspired) designed and manufactured double wishbone suspension either side. Moving the engine forward when compared with the three wheeled cars, made a lot more room inside for the driver and front passenger.

Unfortunately in 1982 the Kitten was axed due to not being able to compete with the prices of Minis and the like due to its hand made fibre glass shell. The corrosion of monocoque steel bodied competitors which had been such a problem in the 1970s, (and so a strong selling point of the GRP Kitten), was coming under control with advances in rustproofing. Also, the Kitten's FR layout was being abandoned in mass market cars at this time in favour of front wheel drive with end on gearboxes. Because it had four wheels it did not have the lower UK road tax rating of the three wheel Robin.

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