Model Page

Reliant Rialto


1981 - 1998

Production Run:



Tamworth (UK)


Reliant 848cc 4 Cylinder


848cc - 16.1 Seconds

Max Speed:

848cc - 85 Mph

The Reliant Rialto was a three wheeled car manufactured by the Reliant Motor Company at Tamworth in the UK, similar to its predecessor the Reliant Robin, the Rialto could be driven by anyone with a Motorcycle licence and was made available as a Saloon, Estate or Van.

Reliant Rialto

Reliant Rialto

The Reliant Rialto debuted on 13th January in 1982 and was immediately available in three body styles namely either a two door Saloon, a three door Estate or a Van. The Saloon and Estate were available as base models or with up-rated GLS trim, the Rialto Van was available with only the base trim specification. The Reliant Rialto received a new, revised body shell that whilst similar to the Reliant Robin was more refined in appearance, the car was introduced by Reliant in an attempt to address falling sales which it did to some degree although it was never as popular as the Robin.

The styling of the Rialto had been under-taken by consultants IAD of Worthing, the design of the car has been compared to that of early Austin Metro’s of which it has a resemblance. The body was once again of fibreglass construction but was more aerodynamically efficient helping to raise economy and just as importantly increased the stability of the car at high speed. The Rialto can be easily identified from its predecessor by the single, centrally located windscreen wiper and slanted nose cone. Access to the boot was through a small drop down hatch that was below the rear window, in everyday applications this was found to be awkward to load and was not one of the cars strongest points.

The Rialto received a fully galvanised chassis thus providing a major improvement in corrosion protection of the new vehicles, a major improvement over its predecessor the Robin.

Reliant Rialto Interior

Reliant Rialto Interior

The Reliant Rialto used the same water cooled 850 light alloy engine that was used in the Robin. The Reliant 850 engine is a four cylinder unit that has a cast aluminium cylinder block and aluminium cylinder head with 2 valves per cylinder. Removable cast iron liner were inserted into the cylinder block, the crankshaft was constructed from forged steel and utilised three main bearings. The engine had a bore and stroke or 62.50mm x 69.09mm giving a swept capacity of 848cc, fuelling was provided through a single SU Semi Downdraught HS2 14 carburettor. The engine generated 40 bhp @ 5,500 rpm and 46 lb/ft of torque at 3,500rpm, remarkably, the engine only weighed 59kg thanks to its light weight alloy construction and this helped contribute to the cars ability to return up to 70 mpg.

Reliant launched the Rialto Mk 2 in 1984, the improved model was visually and mechanically identical to the Mk 1 Rialto however the model received a modified engine namely the HT-E, this being an abbreviation of High Torque Economy. The engine developed a slightly lower 37 bhp @ 5,500 rpm and an improved 50 lb/ft of torque at 3,500 rpm, as the engine produced an increased amount of torque the rear axle ratio was made longer thus the car was now capable of over 73 miles per gallon. The HT-E engine is easily recognizable by the addition of a yellow rocker cover.

Over the next few years the Rialto model line up was tinkered with a little, in 1985 the Rialto Jubilee was introduced into the market place. The Jubilee was manufactured to celebrate Reliant’s fiftieth anniversary (1935 – 1985), in 1986 the HT-E engine was no longer available with Reliant favouring the original 850 unit. At the same time Reliant introduced the Rialto SE the most notable change of which was the inclusion of a rear hatchback door making access to the luggage compartment much easier and the addition of a lower side stripe.

Unfortunately for Reliant, the Rialto never managed to drop it poor image with the public at large and therefore it never reached as wide an audience as it might have done. Production of the Rialto was ended in 1998 coinciding with Reliant’s relocation from Tamworth to the new production facility in Burntwood UK.

The Facts


Reliant 850 4 Cylinder All Alloy Engine





Compression Ratio:


Fuel System:

850 - 1 x SU Semi Downdraught HS2 14 Carburettor

Maximum Power:

850 - 40 bhp @ 5,500 rpm

850 HTE - 37bhp @ 5,500 rpm

Maximum Torque:

850 - 46 lb/ft @ 3,500 rpm

850 HTE - 50 lb/ft @ 3,500 rpm


Reliant 4 Speed Manual

Top Gear:

17 Mph / 1000 rpm


7" Drum Front / 7" Drum Rear

Kerb Weight:

850 - 436 Kg

Max Speed:

850 - 85 Mph


850 - 16.1 Secs