Founded in 1948 by Lawrie Bond, the company was originally known as Sharps Commercials Ltd, until it changed its name to the more familiar Bond Cars Limited in 1965
. The company is best known these days for the manufacture of cheap utalitarian 3 wheel iterations, the first of which was to roll off the production line in 1949. Dubbed the "Minicar Mark A", this first production model was powered by a single-cylinder two stroke 122 or 197cc Villiers engine. As this engine was essentially the same design as that for a motorcycle, there was no reverse gear. However the inconvenience was kept to a minimum, clever design having the engine, gearbox and front wheel mounted as a single unit which could be turned by the steering
wheel up to 90 degrees either side of the straight-ahead position, enabling the car to turn within its own length.
The body was mainly manufactured of aluminium, although there was some use of fibreglass, a manufacturing technique that would become more popular with each new Bond model.
This original model would remain in production until 1961
, its post war popularity due in no small part to the very low cost of not only buying the car, but running it. During its production run it would move through several different incarnations, culminating in the Mark G which came standard with a single-cylinder 250 cc engine or optional 250 cc twin-cylinder Villiers 4T unit.
Reverse gear of a sort was offered on later models, but using this involved stopping the engine and starting it backwards. This was done by reversing the Dynastart unit, a device which doubled as both starter and generator. It operated as a starter motor
when the starter button was pressed but when the engine was running it generated power instead and recharged the battery
. The move to 4 wheeled versions came in 1963
with the release of the Equipe, a delightful sports car based on Triumph Herald
mechanicals. The pinnacle of design came with the 2 Litre GT, based on the Triumph Vitesse, and the Mark II was a revelation as the stodgy Triumph suspension
had by then been well sorted. However as prosperity grew following the war, the need for two major UK "light car" manufacturers waned. Reliant wanted to gain access to the nationwide and international sales network of Triumph, with whom Bond had an agreement covering the distribution of the Herald-based Equipe range, and so in 1969
they assumed control of Bond.
Fate was to deal this ambition a fatal blow: in the wake of the formation of BLMC, rationalisation was the order of the day, and it was decided that there was no longer room for the Bond models alongside Triumph's own range in the showrooms.
The closure of Bond's two Preston-based factories followed, although Reliant continued to produce the three-wheeled Bond Bug (which it distributed through its own dealerships) until 1974
, when the Bond name was finally consigned to history.
Also see: Bond Minicar History