A brief history of the Bond Company
The original Bond Minicar was conceived and designed by Lawrence (Lawrie) Bond. It was built in Preston, Lancashire by Sharp's Commercials Limited - a member of the Loxhams and Bradshaw Group of companies. Production eventually commenced in January 1949. This, the Mark A, proved very popular due to the post war economies and pioneered the 18-year production run of Villiers two-stroke powered Minicars. Production finally ceased with the Mark G in December 1966.
The Bond Equipe, introduced in 1963, was a complete change with tradition being a four-wheeler sports saloon built in association with Standard Triumph. The engine and chassis components were taken from the Triumph Spitfire and the Triumph Herald / Vitesse range whilst the main body parts were made in glass fibre by Bonds at the India Mill factory in Preston. The vehicles were then finally assembled at the main Bond factory in Ribbleton Lane, Preston. The success of the Equipe led Sharp's Commercials to formally change its name to Bond Cars Limited in 1964.
The Bond 875 was introduced in 1966 as the successor to the Minicars. This broke away from the previous design by having a completely moulded glass fibre body and aluminium doors. It was powered by the 875cc 4 cylinder, four stroke engine and transaxle unit from the Rootes Commer van.
BOND & RELIANT MERGER
In 1968 the Loxhams and Bradshaw Group of companies was bought by the Dutton-Forshaw Group. Unfortunately, Bond Cars Limited (the only manufacturing part of the group) did not fit in with the new structure and was put up for sale. After an unsuccessful attempt by the Bond Management to buy the company, in February 1969 it was bought by the Reliant Motor Company at Tamworth who were also manufacturers of three and four-wheeler vehicles.
It was not long before there were changes at Preston and one of the first saw the winding-down of 875 production in preparation for the introduction in 1970 of the Bond Bug. This radical new design came from the Ogle Design Studios at Letchworth and was built on a Reliant chassis using Reliant running gear.
THE CLOSURE OF PRESTON AND THE END OF THE BOND NAME
Although the Bond Bug had a fairly successful launch in June 1970, it had been a difficult time for the new owners. The newly formed Leyland Group was going through some major restructuring and the result meant Reliant would be losing their hoped-for access to the international Triumph dealership network. Also, alleged production and quality problems at Preston coupled with the economics of running two similar facilities some 100 miles apart meant that by the end of July the formal announcement to close the Ribbleton Lane and India Mill factories was made. Assembly of the remaining unfinished Equipes continued at Preston until the last 2 litre saloon finally rolled off the lines in October. (Bug production had already been transferred to Tamworth at the end of June.) By December 1970 the Preston factory had been cleared completely and was closed for good. Production of the Bug continued at Tamworth until 1974 when it too was discontinued and the name Bond disappeared forever from the motoring world.