Automotive

This widowmaking R1-powered Bond Bug from 1973 is up for auction

This widowmaking R1-powered Bo...
This 1973 Bond Bug 3-wheeler has been fitted with an outrageous Yamaha R1 superbike engine, quintupling its power output
This 1973 Bond Bug 3-wheeler has been fitted with an outrageous Yamaha R1 superbike engine, quintupling its power output
View 10 Images
This 1973 Bond Bug 3-wheeler has been fitted with an outrageous Yamaha R1 superbike engine, quintupling its power output
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This 1973 Bond Bug 3-wheeler has been fitted with an outrageous Yamaha R1 superbike engine, quintupling its power output
These dynamically questionable 3-wheelers were a dodgy idea eve when they only made 30 horses
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These dynamically questionable 3-wheelers were a dodgy idea eve when they only made 30 horses
This thing can do more than double freeways speed now
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This thing can do more than double freeways speed now
We have to admit, that's somehow a great-looking back end
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We have to admit, that's somehow a great-looking back end
0-100 km/h acceleration times around 3.5 seconds. Hell, this thing might even wheelie
5/10
0-100 km/h acceleration times around 3.5 seconds. Hell, this thing might even wheelie
The lift-off cabin is undeniably cool
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The lift-off cabin is undeniably cool
The cabin is sparse
7/10
The cabin is sparse
The seats have those 70s race bumps on them
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The seats have those 70s race bumps on them
The R1 dash in the console is your only clue you're in for a crazy ride
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The R1 dash in the console is your only clue you're in for a crazy ride
Hidden in the engine bay: a 1,000 cc, 12,000rpm superbike engine from a Yamaha R1 making at least 150 horsepower
10/10
Hidden in the engine bay: a 1,000 cc, 12,000rpm superbike engine from a Yamaha R1 making at least 150 horsepower
View gallery - 10 images

Take one visibly unstable three-wheeler from the 1970s, and give it five times the horsepower and 200+ km/h (124+ mph) top speeds thanks to a screaming superbike motor ... This truly frightening, roided-out Bond Bug has just gone up for auction.

First hitting the streets in 1970, the Bond Bug was a collaboration between the Reliant Motor Company and designer Tom Karen, attempting to give the weird little Reliant Robin three-wheeler design a bit more 1970s pizzazz. You'll remember the Robin from what I'd argue was Jeremy Clarkson's finest hour on Top Gear way back in the day.

That hysterical skit was a setup – Clarkson admitted he'd had the differential fiddled with to make the thing roll over every time he went around a corner. But still, there's no question this odd trike formula led to a car far less stable than a four-wheeler, and whose prime attraction was that you could drive one without a full license in parts of the UK at the time.

The lift-off cabin is undeniably cool
The lift-off cabin is undeniably cool

On top of this deeply flawed chassis, Karen built an extremely futuristic-looking body for the time. Perhaps inspired by the wedgey supercars Lamborghini was starting to build, it was quite triangular and sporty-looking, with pop-up headlamps, tangerine paint and a lift-off cabin roof that must really have felt like a spaceship cabin.

A total of 2,270 of these things were built, making between 29 and 31 horsepower. That was enough for motorway speeds up to 76 mph (122 km/h), and a good amount if you wanted to keep yourself out of trouble.

This one, however, has been modified by a profoundly disturbed Franco-Englishman to incorporate a 1,000cc Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike engine, six-speed sequential gearbox and twin motorcycle exhausts. Fully registered in France as a tricycle, it now makes at least 150 horsepower – that being the least the notorious R1 ever made upon its release in 1998.

The R1 dash in the console is your only clue you're in for a crazy ride
The R1 dash in the console is your only clue you're in for a crazy ride

The seller calls it "a city runabout with the heart of a rocket," and that's no joke. That screaming superbike engine can get this Bug from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in about 3.5 seconds, and a sufficiently demented buyer may wish to test its claimed top speed over 200 km/h (124 mph).

For all its insanity, it does look like a careful and well-executed engine swap, with all the running gear modified to handle the extra power. The R1 instrument panel has been slotted into the center console to act as a dash, the 12,000 rpm redline being clearly visible on the tacho, and it's also been fitted with a heater, which is nice I suppose.

This 73 Bond "Super Bug" is up for auction now at Artcurial. It goes off on November 1, with no reserve and estimated pricing between €20,000-€30,000. And for all the madness of it, I have to confess I'd love to take it for a fang. Viva les cinglés!

Source: Artcurial

View gallery - 10 images
2 comments
Karmudjun
Loz - you and me both! That looks a little safer than my 850 cc two wheeler I wrecked back in the 1980's - but not by much, and I'll bet the speed capabilities are similar. I used to double the speed limits on expressways out west - that was where I should have 'bought the farm', but no, a wreckless driver took me out at 23-25 mph leaving me rolling around permanently. If I could just drive that for 35 minutes (about all the time I can sit comfortably) what a ride I'd take! I saw no mention of roll bars and safety measures - given the excessive safety engineering require for convertibles in the 1960's, I suspect it has a standard package or cannot be licensed except under a motorcycle specifications. You should see the smile on my face!
JohnAyer
I think it's very cute, and I would love to park it as land-dinghy beside my flying-saucer Futuro House, if I had one! They were made, also of fiberglass, about the same time.