Reliant’s wedge is serious value for money. Here’s what you need to know
Reliant Scimitar SS1
Seen many of these lately? Probably not, unless you’ve been hanging around Reliant club events. Yet the SS1 oozes charisma with just as much idiosyncratic flair as any of its cheese-shaped rivals. Why are they so (dare we say it) cheap?
‘They definitely deserve greater recognition,’ says Mike Littleton, ‘Small Sports’ Registrar of the Reliant Sabre and Scimitar Owners’ Club (scimitarweb.co.uk). ‘They’re exhilarating to drive and no problem at all to look after. People buy them with good intentions, but then the wife intervenes and they get put aside.’
The first SS1s, standing for Small Sports 1, came with Ford CVH engines in 1.3- or 1.6-litre guise, plus an 1800Ti sourced from Nissan – and very potent it is too. In 1990 came a facelift, 1.4-litre engines and a name tweak to SST. ‘Facelift’ however barely does justice to the significant changes made, the often-wonky body panels now replaced with a novel two-piece shell. The final few years of production saw a new name – Scimitar Sabre (redolent of the Reliant Sabre back in the Sixties) – flared wheelarches and, from 1993, the advent of a 1.4-litre K-series engine.
None of this, however, has a significant bearing on how much you should expect to pay. ‘ Values are pretty aligned,’ says Mike. ‘They’re priced on condition.’
Projects outnumber road-legal cars, of which there are currently around 160 survivors, a small number of those being the later Scimitar Sabres. Despite the low production, specialist expertise and parts are both in ready supply, especially since one of the major suppliers reportedly unearthed a couple of containers’ worth of forgotten SS1 bits about 18 months ago. ‘I’ve never had any problems keeping my Sabre going,’ says Mike.
They rarely appear at auction or on dealer forecourts, but a smattering of private ads can be found among the classifieds and online auctions. Close contact with club members is key, whether you’re seeking expertise to help keep one alive, or looking to buy your first Reliant.
‘Some are wildly modified for track use, and there’s a lot you can do to them,’ says Mike. ‘Our club holds annual sprint events where we invite other marques along. Ferrari owners don’t like having their noses put out of joint by little Reliants!’