1972 Reliant Rebel Van

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Rebel Van – Collection


I’ve recently bought his Rebel Van….

The intention is to get it back on the road on a minimum budget for the time being, Then once the Red Rebel Saloon is fully finished the Van will get the same body off treatment, sort the chassis and completely rebuild the suspension, replace the rear side panels which have been chopped out to make it an estate/van with windows! etc etc.

The following photos are of the 500 mile round trip to collect it from Lancashire in the Scimitar, My first time towing in the winter and at night!

Scimitar and trailer about to leave Home.

At the Services heading north.

After a nights sleep in the car we met Matt and loaded up the Rebel.

Few photos looking at the car taken on the way home.

Inside was a mix of spares, 4 Engines 3 850′s and a 750′

The trip home on saturday took about 5 hours, With the Rebel safe in the garage we started to take a look at what we’d actually got and start to remove some of the accumulated shit.

Unloading.. (the tailgate was removed as it was mostly held on with gaffa tape!)

We got the bonnet open to discover that the engine bay had been painted in black stone chip paint for some reason..  :?

With the van cleared of spares and shite we started stripping out years of owner modifications,

In the front there were two layers of carpet one on top of the other, Looking at the manual the Van was supplied with a painted floor and over-mats so would probably have been quite a loud drive!

Cleaning the engine bay,

Interior with carpets removed, revealing the original speckled paint,

Rear View

Rebel Van – Evaluation

With all the parts unloaded we started working out what we had and what parts were needed,
The clutch master cylinder was missing, Radiator was holed (and a later type), Handbrake cable had been cut, Front brake shoes were missing, Taillight and indicator bodies were rusted beyond repair.

We then took the wheels off and the car up on axle stands for a decent look at the chassis. The main rails appear to be in good condition, but the outriggers are a real weak point on the Rebel and could do with replacing.

Drivers side Front, Notice the bolts have been removed on the towers, it looked like someone had prepped the car to remove the body.

Passenger side front


Chassis general view

Gearbox Mount area,


Mount for Brake master cylinder

Drivers side rear,

Propshaft, axle and diff.

Seatbelt mount point

Petrol tank, This has been drained and appears not to leak.

Fitting an Engine

When the van first arrived we ordered the first lot of parts and so far the Rebel and so far the list isnt too long:

Handbrake cable, – Supplied but the Kitten Register thanks Brian
Radiator, – bought a new one for a mini
2 New Master cylinders – bought off the shelf from my local classic oriented motor factors,
A tail light, -
A starter solenoid,
Cylinder Rebuild Kits,
Replacement front cylinders – (turned out to be badly made pattern parts which did not fit,
Front Brake shoes, – Which still wave not arrived

Everything else we’ve uses is either stuff that came with the car of spares that were in the garage. or have been borrowed from the stock of bits intended for the other rebel.

Few Photos,

Master Cylinders, I think we were lucky to find these and they were the most expensive Item bought to date. They are not thought to be a common part with this combination of bore and sideways fixing. It would be possible to make adapter plates up to take more common land rover style master cylinder should availability be a problem in the future.

Exaust was removed to get a good look at the outriggers, It turned out to be stainless which was nice.

One of the 850′s that came with the Van was dropped in we don’t know much about any of the engines that came with the car except that this one was the most complete and seemed to have good compression. Old Rad being trial fitted to see how it should be mounted.

Dropping the engine in has revealed a difference in the engine frontplates between the Rebels and their 3wheeled cousins, This rebel was missing its original engine and so we are short of a Rebel front plate.

So for the time being temporary adaptor plates have been made, We’re now on the lookout for a front plate to suit a rebel.

Engine with new Radiator, The bracket over the rocker cover is the support for an improvised throttle cable, it was later cut down.

There was no starter motor on any of the engines we got with the car and our spare was to fit the later type 850 engine and had a different mounting bracket and 10 teeth in stead of nine.

Photo of Dave’s custom made radiator mounting bracket.

Running and Driving

This last post brings the Rebel Van photos up to date with the van running and moving under it own power.

Rad filled with water, a borrowed battery off a Scimitar

Checking the Electrics, Terminals were cleaned and some modified wiring removed and everything came back to life, The fan motor switch is dodgy, and a new wiper switch would be nice but virtually everything else electric works.

The front brake pads never arrived in time to fit them bleed and check the system but we decided to try and get the engine running anyway. Photo Here shows Dave priming the carb

We were missing the starter so it took half an hour of pushing up and down to get the engine running, after a few false starts it fired up… Just as well as really as rebel with hard crossplys on the front and slightly flat radials on the back is quite hard work to push!

The Video: http://youtu.be/r5hV_EeOA4g

The Carb is wrong as its a Zenith and it should have an SU, As a result it doesn’t want to idle on it’s current settings. A decent play with the idle screw will probably make workable in the short term. It sounds fooked but its probably just the timing chain tensioner, It needs a new water pump as too as the current one pisses water everywhere.

The MOT Jobs list is something like this:

Replace windscreen – (current one has severe scratches, new one came with the car)
Fit new seatbelts – old ones are a bit frayed
Starter Motor – Because push starting is too much like hard work
Water Pump – May borrow this off the rebuilt 850 sat on the bench in the garage to save £££”S
Timing Chain tensioned,
Proper Engine mounts making,
Replace rubber filler pipe – Old one had dissolved.
New Tyres, – The van will probably inherit the Rostyles off the Red Rebel as Dave doesn’t like them the red rebel will then get something different.
Replace Rear door, – Requires a repair to one of the hinges
Source new numberplate and test numberplate light.
Fasten remaining chassis bolts down – needs more 1/4 inch unf bolts
Probably paint the rest of the chassis as some against protection against the winter roads.

Now MOT’d

Spent the morning getting the blue Rebel MOT’d and have now clocked up 20 (painful) miles…!

Early start… our first attempt to reach the test station resulted in us heading back home having only covered a few hundred yards!  The Zenith carb and 850 engine combination proved to be un-driveable…

After spending some time swapping Jets over we finally made it to the test station.

It passed, with a few advisories: Bit surprised about the wiper blades as they were brand new, most of the other points were quite minor so all in all very pleased.

A few photos of the van taken on the way home, (wheels, tyres, starter motor, battery and petrol filler neck are on loan from the red rebel!)

Tools and assorted carb’s in the back, In total we stopped 4 times to attend to carb issues, Accelerator diaphragm burst resulting in changing it for a spare perished one and disconnecting the operating cam – made for a slightly gutless drive home!

Front view, note the slightly improvised choke cable… This rebel came with two windscreens- both were scratched but we’ve swapped for the spare as it is at least usable! New windscreen seal fitted too.

New seatbelts, these take some getting used to compared to modern inertia types!

Rear door, Hinges have been repair’d and a temporary doorlock striker plate fabricated up

Theres a very short video of the journey home here: http://youtu.be/08X5PSxSflY

There a few bit still to be done – Tax class needs changing which will have to wait until after the bank holiday, Its currently registered as a Disabled Vehicle, Needs a SU carb to suit the 850 engine and possibly a 850 distributer too instead of the 700/750 items currently fitted. Engine front-plate still needs proper feet making up. The LUK clutch ultimately destined for the red rebel which is currently fitted wants swapping for a standard one which is on order along with a new starter, a proper choke cable would be nice as well as a new wiper switch so the self-park
feature actually works!. All that should make it a bit more usable.

After getting those bits done we’ll probably make up some panels for the rear to turn it back into a proper Van and sort out the other bodywork bits. Major suspension/chassis overhaul is not a current priority and will happen in the longer term.