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Four-Links – the unReliant Robin, the DS’s brake button, the MG prototypes, the Fossmobile

Published in blog.hemmings.com

Does anybody look back fondly on the Reliant Robin? Not Martin Gurdon, who wrote about his rather brief experience owning one for Influx:

The starter motor sounded sluggish, making slow churning noises that reminded me of a drunk being sick in a gutter. I paused then turned the key once more. There was another, sickly ‘whir-whir’ noise followed by a sort of ‘whump’ sound you’d associate with a gas cooker lighting, which was appropriate. The engine sits in a cramped little box behind the front wheel and more or less between the driver and passenger seats. The panel at the end of this jerked forward, flames shot out from behind it, licked the knees of my trousers and set light to the wiring under the dashboard.

‘Oh bother,’ I said, hastily exited the car and called the fire brigade. When the fire engine arrived, all shrieking sirens and strobing blue lights, the Robin was blazing merrily. The roof lining was alight and the windscreen had shattered.

* As with the DS’s steering wheel, a lot of thought went into the design of the Citroën’s mushroom-shaped brake pedal, as pointed out by Citroënvie!

To make it more brilliant, the mushroom knob pushes not directly against the two pistons, but on the CENTER of a teeter-totter plate which straddles both pistons. AND a tiny hydraulic piston forward of this twin hydraulic valve block pushes the TT plate forward/aft based on the pressure coming to the auxiliary piston from the rear suspension, whose height is affected by the trunk load. So, when a heavy load is in trunk, the rear height corrector sends in more fluid to jack up the rear end back to normal level, and that increase in pressure goes directly to this aux. piston, moving the teeter-totter plate and changing the leverage on each brake valve. Viola! Non-electronic load sensing which is very reliable.

* Could MG be scrapping a number of the company’s more significant recent prototypes? In the absence of clear answers from the company itself, AROnline has been discussing the potential fates of the cars.

We’ve heard different stories from various people indirectly connected with the ownership of these cars, but nothing at all from the management. Gemma Cartwright CBE, Organiser of the Pride of Longbridge, and a long-time campaigner for the pension rights of the workers, told me that she’d spoken to Gary Egan and William Wang, and they were simply, ‘moving stuff around.’ I should feel reassured by that, but I don’t.

* Canada’s first gasoline-powered automobile, the Fossmobile, has long since gone missing, but the grandson of the car’s builder wants to replicate it as best he can now.

As a child, he frequently visited his grandfather and heard stories about the car, and has his letters and papers. Unfortunately, though, there are no blueprints or drawings.

But there are photographs, and they’re key to building the new Fossmobile, which is being done by restoration shop Legendary Motorcar Company in Halton Hills, Ontario. Foss estimates the project will cost $30,000, which he’s fundraising. It’s being built through a painstaking process called reverse re-engineering.

“You take what you know,” Foss said. “If there’s a particular measurement you can determine (from the photograph), you start with it, and scale with it to the next connecting part.”

* Finally, Lee Iacocca’s television ads for Chrysler.