THREE little-loved Reliant Robin cars have been given a new lease of life as lit-up works of art.

The three-wheelers, once listed as eighth-worst car ever, have been given stained glass windows.

They will be used in Durham’s three park and ride car parks at Belmont, Sniperley and Howlands, as part of next week’s spectacular Lumiere festival celebrating artworks using light.

The stained glass cars are the idea of Stuart Langley, once of Darlington but now living in Hartlepool, and his graphic design business partner, Matt Sayle, of Middlesbrough.

The two men are not usually artists, but were inspired to submit their design as part of a competition for this year’s Lumiere which attracts about 150,000 visitors from outside County Durham every year. Their design was one of four chosen.

Two of the Robins were found in Marske, near Redcar and a third from Billingham near Stockton. Real stained glass would have cost more than £20,000, so instead the pair used alternative, plastic materials but real lead.

Mr Langley, who explained it had taken about five months to create the Reliant Robins, said: “The first one depicts the industrial heritage of the North-East, the second the Lindisfarne Gospels and the third rock and roll celebrities as well as the Queen and Prince Philip - it’s a bit like punk and royalty together, very British. It’s our first proper delve into art, and we’ve really enjoyed it.”

The graphic designers have a company, Twist Design, in Middlesbrough. The cars were unveiled at Marske, near Redcar, where two of the Robins were bought by a trader via eBay.

Reliant Robins, famously used by Del Boy in TV's Only Fools and Horses, were listed as eighth worst car ever made in a BBC-published book by Richard Porter called Crap Cars.

Lumiere will take place from Thurday to Sunday, November 14 to 17 from 4.30pm to 11pm each night. Ticekts for the peak hours in the central area are gone, but there are many other installations elsewhere. For more information log on to