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‘May the force be with you’ Motor vehicle students unveil pimped up three wheeler for charity

Motor vehicle students at East Sussex College Hastings unveiled a fully ‘pimped up’ and refurbished Reliant Rialto following five months of challenging work at the college’s Automotive Training Centre last Thursday (25th July).

The project is the brainchild of family-owned builders merchants, Chandlers Building Supplies, who has entered a team to drive the Reliant in one of the most creatively demanding charity rallies.

The 1986 classic three-wheeled car, bought on Ebay by Chandlers Building Supplies for £200, has been at the college’s Automotive Training Centre since March. In total 43 students worked on rebuilding the engine and overhauled the bodywork to create a daring Darth Vader-mobile.

Marc Beattie, Motor Vehicle tutor at the college, said: “The end result will astound everyone – the little 850cc car has been turned into Darth Vader. It’s a sight to behold.

“Part of this project’s challenge was to also allow the car to be easily adapted to a new creative theme every day of the rally, with themes including ‘Underground’, ‘Superheroes’ and ‘Back From the Dead’. The students really enjoyed working on this. It’s not often you get the chance to work so creatively on a 33-year-old car.”

Rally driver, Trevor Mudd from Chandlers Building Supplies is taking the wheel accompanied by Sam Hanks of Cembrit.

Trevor said: “The enthusiasm and marvellous engineering work done by the students on the car is exceptional. This is an amazing piece of workmanship. We can’t wait to rev her up!

“This challenge is our most daring yet and we are delighted to have had such young talent supporting us. The input by the students will make a huge difference in getting us across the finish line, raising lots of money for charity and hopefully bring the trophy home. We aim to make the students proud!”

Callum Slade, 17, a student on the project, said: “I loved working on the car and thinking about how each element could be achieved. We even made a working prototype of a luminous green water jet cannon and a working light sabre for the Darth Vader theme.”

Fellow student, Bailey Reed Simmonds, 17, said: “This was fantastic. I’d love to be going on the Rally myself. It was a great team effort by everyone here at the college – challenging and great fun.”

Sue McKinney, head of marketing at Chandlers Building Supplies said: “We have a great relationship with the college due to our existing in-house apprenticeship schemes and, as a business, we are always keen to support young apprentices in every vocational field. Taking part in the rally is just one element of our business’s commitment to supporting charitable initiatives.”

The ‘Darth Vader’ Reliant will also be on show at Seaford FC on Sunday 1, September when Chandlers Building Supplies takes on the Celeb FC football team in a charity match and family fun day to raise even more money for the same charities.

The little Reliant is then set to embark on a 2,000-mile journey as part of the 2019 Pavestone Charity Rally. Teams are hoping to raise £175,000 for three charities: Rainy Day Trust, Teenage Cancer Trust, and Variety. You can donate via the Virgin giving link:

Some of the work on the car includes:

  • New rear exhaust box to help with the power output and nicer noise, new heater hot air pipes (as there will be snow and this should help with maintaining cabin heat),
  • New wiring and fuse box to run all of the additional components,
  • Front lower DRL spotlights,
  • Front centre halogen spot lamp,
  • Light bar roof rails (LandRover ones modified to fit and take a load if required),
  • Built safe section for storage and a full-length parcel shelf,
  • Separate safe mounted compressor and water tanks as – special effects.

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