One of Mr Bean's quirks is that he hates this particular three-wheeled car:

The three-wheeled car

My question is then, do we know why he hates this car? Has Atkinson or any of the writing staff ever commented regarding this hatred?


1 Answer 1


It's a meme.

In the UK, everybody hates those cars.

Google refs: Jeremy Clarkson/Top Gear, Reliant Robin or Reliant Supervan; Only Fools & Horses.

Try this Youtube video to see Clarkson "testing" one -

Even the members of the owner's club in the Top Gear video are quite aware of how bad their cherished vehicles really are.

Seriously, they were actually quite dangerous, unless you kept additional weight on the passenger side.
Their fibre-glass construction also made them deadly in any crash.
They were popular, really, only because you didn't need a full motor vehicle driving license to drive one unaccompanied, you only needed a motor-cycle license.

This is the "Supervan" variant, made [in]famous by Del-Boy & Rodney Trotter, in Only Fools & Horses.
The meme already existed by the time this show was first made in 1981, the abysmal quality of the vehicle adding to the characterisations of the protagonists.

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  • 10
    When I was growing up, the "advantage" of a Reliant was that it could be driven at age 16 on a moped licence. However, no 16-year old would be seen dead in one.
    – Chenmunka
    Jan 8, 2016 at 11:57
  • 3
    They were also low-cost and that along with the licensing differences led to them being very often subsidised or given to people with mobility-affecting disabilities. (Indeed while the rules about 16 year-olds were changed, and they can no longer drive such a 3-wheeler with an engine capacity above 50cc, there remains an exception for recipients of higher-rate Disability Living Allowance.) This made it the only option for some people with disabilities and as such more popular than they might have been otherwise.
    – Jon Hanna
    Jan 8, 2016 at 12:47
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    @JonHanna I don't know the source where I read it, but I've heard in the past that the availability of these cars to disabled persons is part of the humor in Mr. Bean. Bean can be a bit of a shit at times to say the least, and getting angry that these ridiculous cars are getting in his way, even when he should be courteous to their drivers, fits in with that.
    – recognizer
    Jan 8, 2016 at 15:55
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    Not forgetting Reliant's sublime contribution to Britain's space program... youtube.com/watch?v=miPCcpzRaPE (or in a bit more detail) youtube.com/watch?v=pJdrlWR-yFM Regarding the Elio ... apparently 2 wheels in front is a much more stable arrangement. Jan 8, 2016 at 19:37
  • 3
    @MasonWheeler - A trike layout with two wheels in front is extremely stable under most conditions; its only "gotcha" is oversteer (the rear end can come around). The Reliant and other front-single-wheelers are pretty much the opposite; the only way they can be stable at all is with all of the weight in the rear (and then they understeer horribly and/or tend to pop wheelies, like the Harley trike). Jan 9, 2016 at 5:02

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