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