1972 Bond Bug 700ES
In the late 1940’s Lawrence “Lawrie” Bond designed the first prototype of a Bond mini car on the first floor of his workshop at Longridge in Lancashire. The prototype actually had to be lowered through a trap door to the workshop below. Clearly not an ideal workshop to start the production of his mini cars. His search for space to produce his mini car lead to a relationship with Sharps Commercials Ltd, who had some spare space in their factory. The prototype was announced to the world in May 1948. It was a very basic vehicle which utilised an all-aluminium semi-monocoque bodyshell and was powered by a 122cc Villiers Mk 10D motorcycle engine, mounted on a centrally positioned single front steering fork attached via the steering head to the front bulkhead. However, its acclaimed fuel consumption of 104 mpg and a top speed of 30 mph quickly led to some serious interest, no doubt being helped by the economic situation in the UK at the time.
Sharps quickly realised the little mini car was a potential winner. Bond was employed as a consultant and the Bond Mk A Minicar was announced in November 1948. Full production started early 1949 at Sharps’ Ribbleton Lane premises in Preston. Though the production model was a considerably remodelled version of the prototype mini car, it still retained the lightweight monocoque construction concept, the 122cc Villiers MK10D engine and even the problematical steering system. The Bond Minicar evolved throughout production as the Mark B, Mark C and so on through to the Mark G. The first four-wheel Bond car was introduced in 1963, the Equipe. The success of the Equipe led Sharps Commercials to formally change its name to Bond Cars Limited in 1964. The Bond Minicar Mark G was replaced by the Bond 875 in 1965.
In 1968 Bond Cars Limited parent company the Loxhams and Bradshaw Group was taken over by the Dutton-Foreshaw Group. The new management decided that Bond Cars Limited did not fit into the new structure and was put up for sale. Bond management tried to buy the company but was not successful and in February 1969 Bond Cars Limited was sold to Reliant at Tamworth.
The takeover by Reliant obviously resulted in changes for Bond Cars. One of the first changes was the wind down of the production of the model 875 in preparation of the introduction of the all new Bond Bug.
The Bond Bug was the brain child of Tom Karen from Ogle Design who also designed the Raleigh Chopper and Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder from Star Wars (one of the models for that was actually built on a Bond Bug chassis).
In the 1960’s Reliant asked Ogle design to come up with some sketches for a sportier version of their cars to appeal to the younger public. The sketches done in 1964 by Ogle Design showed a wedge shaped design with some rounded edges. It was to be sold as the Reliant Rogue, however, Reliant management thought the strange looking vehicle would hurt their brand and it was never put into production.
After acquiring Bond Cars Limited, Reliant got in touch again with Tom Karen and asked him to make some alterations to the Reliant Rogue design and come up with a new design for a car to be sold under the Bond name. The rest as they say is history. The Bond Bug entered production in 1970 and in total 2,268 cars were built before production ceased in May 1974. The model range existed of four different versions, the 700, the 700E, the 700ES and the 750 model. They all had one thing in common, they all came in one colour and one colour only . . . orange.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a 1972 Bond Bug 700ES.
The 700ES model was the top of the range model in 1972 and featured optional extras such as alloy rear wheels, wing mirrors, sports tyres, upgraded interior and a ‘formula-1’ style steering wheel.
According to the UK registration on file this car was first registered in the UK on 24th January 1973 and its last known UK registration was PYO 416L.
The current owner purchased this Bond Bug in the UK and imported it into Australia in April 2012. There is an import approval on file dated 27th April 2012. The car had circa 3,000 miles on the odometer at that time which was understood to be the mileage accumulated since the car was restored. The car has received an engine upgrade at some stage in its life and is now fitted with an 850cc Reliant engine.
The car was in very good condition when it arrived in Australia, however, a recent lack of use meant a few jobs had to be done before the car could be safely used. The recommissioning task was entrusted to Brisbane based classic cars specialists Automation. The work done included – repair the fuel pump, replace some perished fuel hoses, adjust the choke mechanism, repair the leaking exhaust and tune the engine. The car was subsequently complianced and road registered in Queensland.
Since being imported into Australia the car has been part of a private collection of microcars and used sparingly. Today the odometer reads 3,133 miles which means the car has done around 50 miles since it was imported into Australia.
Today this fabulous little Bond Bug presents well. The paint work is generally good and presents with a high gloss. On closer inspection there is some ‘print through’ evident in the paint. The minimalistic external trim and the decals are in good condition. The car also has its original clip on canvas doors which are in good condition.
Apart from an engine upgrade the car presents as a very original and unmolested car. The interior, wheels and presentation of the car is very correct.
The car has no doors, rather the top pivots forward (much like a space ship from Star Wars!) and it is easy to open providing good access. You slide in behind the wheel and get comfortable quickly. Unlike Messerschmitts and the like which you drive as a cross between a car and scooter or motorbike you drive a Bond Bug exactly as you do most ‘normal’ cars of that period. From cold you need full choke to start and with the push of the starter button the engine burst into life. You immedicably note the (unexpected) raspy exhaust note. The little Bug has attitude!
So, what is it like to drive you ask? It is an absolute blast . . . it is lots of fun! The 850cc engine provides enough power to easily keep up with modern traffic around town. The engine in this car feels strong, the gear changes are relatively smooth and the brakes pull the car up effectively.
Driving this Bond Bug puts a huge smile on your face for two reasons. Firstly, because it is just great fun to drive and secondly because of the response you get from anyone else who sees you driving it. And ‘no’ they don’t tip over easily like the Reliant Robins seen on Top Gear!
The owner of this Bond Bug also has a 750ES and he has decided he does not have the space to keep two cars, hence, this car is now reluctantly offered for sale.
- One of the most iconic microcars and indeed unique cars ever built.
- A very rare car in Australia.
- A well presented, running and driving example.
- Road registered in Queensland
- Bond Bug 700ES
- 3,133 miles