The Scimitar is prob­a­bly one of the most un­der­es­ti­mated clas­sics on the road to­day and we look at a com­pletely re­built ex­am­ple that shows just how good these highly prac­ti­cal sports cars are to drive and own

Classics Monthly - - Reader Resto Reliant Scimitar Gte - WORDS IVAN OSTROFF PHOTOGRAPHY GLENN LINDBERG

John Crosth­waite de­signed the chas­sis, no­tably lo­cat­ing the spare wheel in the nose in front of the en­gine and thereby free­ing up ex­tra car­ry­ing space in the rear. The same re­li­able Ford Es­sex 3.0 litre V6 that pow­ered the Reliant SE4 Coupé was fit­ted and the car was avail­able with a four speed man­ual gear­box. In 1970 the ad­di­tion of over­drive on third and top gear be­came an op­tion for the GTE and in1971 the lux­ury of two pedal op­er­a­tion be­came avail­able with the in­tro­duc­tion of an op­tional three- speed Borg- Warner au­to­matic gear­box.


David Kuschel bought his two pre­vi­ous owner Scimitar GTE5 twelve and a half years ago. The car had cov­ered ap­prox­i­mately 120,000 miles and ac­cord­ing to David the GTE was in rather poor con­di­tion, even though the pre­vi­ous owner had dealt with some chas­sis cor­ro­sion and had the car re­sprayed. Un­for­tu­nately the car was then left to stand un­used for eight years and when David took it over, the paint had be­gun to peel badly.

As David re­called: “I had to start all over again putting all

the bad work right.” Af­ter clean­ing and re­paint­ing the chas­sis, David then set about eval­u­at­ing the con­di­tion of the GTE’s glass-fi­bre body­work. “Al­though the car was green when I got it, when all the paint was stripped off I dis­cov­ered it had pre­vi­ously been yel­low. Even­tu­ally, af­ter cut­ting through that layer I fi­nally got down to the orig­i­nal colour, which was white”. David then ex­plained that af­ter the shell had been cut back to the gel- coat, it was taken to a body shop and re­sprayed in the cor­rect shade of white the car had been when it left the fac­tory back in 1969.

As the car had stood un­used for so long, David also re­placed all the rub­ber suspension with Poly-bushes all round. Other than this, the front suspension re­mains in standard trim but as the rear dampers were shot David de­cided to re­place then with a set of Gaz ad­justa­bles. That way the suspension can be al­tered ap­pro­pri­ately for load car­ry­ing, com­fort or a sporty feel in sec­onds. Over­haul­ing the brakes in­cluded re­plac­ing the front discs and fit­ting a new set of pads. At the rear, one of the wheel cylin­ders was found to be leak­ing, so af­ter check­ing and clean­ing the rear brake drums the cylin­ders were re­placed on both sides and a fresh set of brake lin­ings fit­ted.

The brakes lines had been re­placed with new cop­per pip­ing by the pre­vi­ous owner and these re­mained in good or­der but the brake fluid was of course re­placed. David also noted how the fuel tank and the ex­haust sys­tem had been

re­placed with stain­less steel items and as a re­sult were still per­fectly us­able.


Turn­ing to the en­gine, David told us how he dis­cov­ered a cracked ex­haust man­i­fold. “The man­i­fold bolts were so cor­roded, it proved im­pos­si­ble to re­move them whilst the cylin­der head was in situ, so I re­moved both heads and took the op­por­tu­nity to check the rest of the en­gine. For­tu­nately, the pis­tons, cylin­der bores and bear­ings were fine, as a pre­vi­ous owner had re­built the en­gine at some point. Af­ter de- car­bon­is­ing both heads and re­grind­ing the valves. I fit­ted the re­place­ment ex­haust man­i­fold”, re­called a very re­lieved David.


Luck­ily, David reck­oned the in­te­rior has stood the test of time well and only re­quired a good clean. How­ever, hav­ing said that David ad­mit­ted that the orig­i­nal front seats were been re­placed by two sec­ond­hand black hide ones from a Jaguar XJS. “The orig­i­nals were in per­fectly good con­di­tion but these give bet­ter sup­port and im­proved com­fort. I've kept the orig­i­nals, so they can al­ways go back in the car if re­quired,” ex­plained David while con­tin­u­ing to show off the rest of the spot­lessly clean in­te­rior.

Ini­tially, the GTE was tend­ing to over­heat on very hot days and in very slow heavy traf­fic. David has man­aged to rem­edy that sit­u­a­tion by thor­oughly flush­ing and clean­ing the cylin­der block, fit­ting a larger triple core ra­di­a­tor in­stead of the dou­ble core unit that came with the car. Fi­nally, he re­placed the me­chan­i­cal en­gine driven cool­ing fan with a new Ken­low unit and now the nee­dle on the tem­per­a­ture re­mains in the nor­mal sec­tor.

As a pre­cau­tion, the old coolant is changed ev­ery two years and when that’s done, the op­por­tu­nity is taken to flush the sys­tem. About two years ago the clutch had to be re­placed. Whilst work­ing on the car David also changed the in­hibitor switch, as he was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a prob­lem with the over­drive coming in on all four forward gears in­stead of just the top two ra­tios.

About a year ago, David felt that the steer­ing was start­ing to feel a bit heav­ier than usual and on ex­am­i­na­tion, dis­cov­ered there was wear in the rack. A re­con­di­tioned rack was

ob­tained from Queens­bury Road Garage at Ket­ter­ing and now the steer­ing has a lighter feel, as well as im­proved ac­cu­racy and di­rec­tional sen­si­tiv­ity. More re­cently David de­cided to check the fi­bre tim­ing gear wheel for wear as the ones on the Ford V6 have a rep­u­ta­tion of un­re­li­a­bil­ity.

This proved a wise de­ci­sion, as upon ex­am­i­na­tion the orig­i­nal wheel was be­gin­ning to break up around the teeth. It has now been re­placed with a new alu­minium wheel and is prob­a­bly good for the life of the en­gine. The alu­minium wheel was a nois­ier at first but has now set­tled down. Apart from that, the David reck­ons the car has ex­pe­ri­enced no other ma­jor is­sues and has now cov­ered a fur­ther 20,000 trou­ble free miles, with David driv­ing it al­most ev­ery week – es­pe­cially dur­ing the re­cent fine sum­mer months.

David reports that his Scimitar uses no oil be­tween changes, which are usu­ally car­ried out just once a year. Fur­ther­more, in these times when econ­omy mat­ters even while run­ning a classic, it’s worth not­ing that the Scimitar is geared so it’s only pulls about 1000rpm at 24mph in over­drive top. David reck­ons 30mpg is eas­ily ob­tain­able un­less the car is be­ing used around town. Clearly the Ogle de­sign Scimitar is just as aero­dy­namic as it ap­pears.

David’s ob­vi­ously very proud of his car and went to tell us how the Reliant al­ways drew pos­i­tive at­ten­tion but that has in­creased over the last cou­ple of years. “Most other road users are ex­tra con­sid­er­ate to­wards the car and many folk wave and give it a thumbs up. Af­ter leav­ing a re­cent Scimitar event at Cur­bor­ough, we de­cided to visit at Strat­ford on Avon on the way home. There was a large group of Ja­panese tourists in the town and when they saw the Reliant, they all came out into the road try­ing to take pho­to­graphs with their phones. My wife and I wanted to take some snaps of Strat­ford but they all seemed far more in­ter­ested in get­ting snaps of the GTE”.


Get­ting be­hind the wheel of David’s Scimitar GTE, you are con­fronted with a typ­i­cally ‘Six­ties de­signed in­stru­ment panel. In many ways we pre­ferred it to the later re­designed dash­board of the SE5A launched in 1972, as this ver­sion is sim­pler and seems purer. The in­stru­men­ta­tion cov­ers ev­ery­thing you need to

Mount­ing the spare wheel ahead of the Scimitar GTE's V6 Ford sourced en­gine pro­vides more load area space.

An open­ing rear glass hatch ac­cesses the Scimitar's gen­er­ous 'boot'. The GTE's rear as­pect is as pleas­ing on the eye to­day as it was when the car was launched.

A pair of com­fort­able Jaguar XJS seats fit nicely in­side the Scimitar's spa­cious cabin, as does the smart look­ing leather rimmed Springall steer­ing wheel. With 140bhp on tap, a V6 pow­ered Scimitar is no slouch and a well sorted ex­am­ple can be great fun to own and drive.

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