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Free wheeling is no joke to Paul

From Bedford Today, June 10 2004

The spirit of Del Boy is never far away from Mac's Motorcycles.

Proprietor Paul Ricketts has probably heard every variation on the joke that is the Peckham trader's choice of transport, but that hasn't harmed business over the past 30 years.

The shop in Tooting High Street sells and hires out motorised three-wheelers, which, perhaps surprisingly, are still in great demand.

Paul said: "The Reliants three-wheelers have developed into quite a cult these days.

"They were still being manufactured until three years ago and since then we have slowly sold out of the vans, but we still have a number of saloons which are very popular.

"People tend to hire them for special occasions such as birthdays or weddings, because they are a bit of fun, but they're actually very useful and reliable if you know how to look after them."

Three-wheelers have been produced since the 1930s, but it wasn't until the 1970s that they became widespread, when Reliant Cars Ltd began to mass-produce them.

Their comical appearance and precarious nature meant they soon developed a risible reputation.

Their cause wasn't helped when a yellow Reliant was adopted by Del Boy from the BBC's legendary sitcom Only Fools and Horses.

Paul said: "During the Golden Jubilee celebrations a couple of years ago, a couple of guys came in here and hired one of our Reliant vans.

"I didn't know what they were planning, but they dressed up as Batman and Robin, just as Del Boy and Rodney had in one of their famous episodes.

"They drove up to The Mall, which had been entirely cordoned off in preparation for the celebration parades, and managed to convince police to let them through.

"They then drove up the entirely empty Mall in the Reliant to great applause from the crowds.

"I wish I'd known what they were planning I would have charged them more than 50!"

Practising what he preaches, Paul still uses a three-wheeler from time to time and can sometimes be spotted driving locally.

And the constant joking? I try an old favourite what do you call a Reliant with a football in the back-seat? A whistle.

Paul sighs. He's obviously heard it before. Many, many times.

To contact Mac's Motorcycles to hire or buy a three-wheeler call 020 8672 4631 or visit 178- 180 Tooting High Street.