RELIANT SCIMITAR GTE REVIEW

Space, pace, but maybe not that much grace. Not that it’s put anyone off. Sporting three-door estates aren’t easy to come by – but this is one of the best.

Reliant Scimitar GTE Review

Reliant Scimitar GTE Review

Born from the mad designs of the styling house Ogle, the Reliant Scimitar GTE was always going to have a curious life.

The blend of practicality and sporting appeal that makes the Scimitar such a useable and entertaining classic made it instantly desirable, while behind the wheel was a throbbing V6.

The smooth and torquey ‘Essex’ V6 engine that nestles in the nose had a decent turn of speed and relaxed cruising ability. The Cologne V6 made its way into the car in 1979, providing even more pace.

Grunt from either of the V6s is heart-poundingly fun when the mood strikes. The chassis is balanced, but plenty of wayward action can be had. The four-speed manual ‘box – especially with overdrive – makes the best of the power on offer though so that’s the one to go for if you prefer a more sporting and involving drive.

Being an estate, there’s plenty of space too.  Passengers have loads of room, as does the luggage. Considering the room, practicality, and comfort on offer, the Scimitar is almost criminally undervalued. But that’s good news for buyers, and as long as you check the condition of the bodywork and interior there’s little to fear with this sporting estate. With such an appealing blend of attributes we like it a lot. You will, too.

 

VITAL STATISTICS

ENGINE 2994cc/V6/OHV

POWER 128bhp@4750rpm

TORQUE 152lb ft@3000pm

MAXIMUM SPEED 110mph

0-60MPH 12.3sec

FUEL CONSUMPTION 21mpg

TRANSMISSION RWD, four-speed manual

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

V6 V GOOD

Ford’s Essex V6 was used in the SE5, SE5A, SE6 and SE6A. It’s durable with regular maintenance so you’re really just looking for signs of neglect. Check for oil leaks, excessive exhaust smoke, and evidence of head gasket failure, and ensure the cooling system is up to scratch. And expect oil pressure of at least 40psi when warm – anything less could point to a worn oil pump drive. The fibre timing wheel was a weak point and most have been replaced with an aluminium item by now, but it’s worth checking, and don’t worry about tales of engine fires; it was a carburettor issue cured years ago, and as long as the fuel inlet pipe at the carb is secure – later ones were modified – it’ll be fine. In 1979, the new SE6B used the German-built Ford ‘Cologne’ 2.8-litre V6. These are generally reliable – and can see off more than 150,000 miles easily. Don’t worry about a rough idle – it’s pretty normal. Do worry about blue smoke.

 

CHASSIS ROT

Chassis rot is prevalent in these cars, as the chassis wasn’t galvanised. Examine the main chassis rails and outriggers, the seat belt mounting points, and around the fuel tank (including the tank itself) although the latter is hard to access completely with the tank in place. The roll-over bar running across the car and bolting to the central outriggers is another rust trap so check it thoroughly, and you should also pay attention to the area beneath the radiator and the spare wheel well in the nose.

 

GOOD BODY

Good news – the glassfibre construction means there’s no panel rust to worry about. Metal strengthening inserts in the SE5 shell can corrode and lead to cracks though. Every panel needs a thorough examination for cracks and grazing - concentrating on stress points such as hinges. It’s important to remember to check the paintwork thoroughly - a full re-spray is trickier and more costly than with a steel body. Watch for signs of micro-blistering, and ensure that a previous re-spray hasn’t been done to cover damage. Parts availability is generally good, but items such as window rubbers, rear bumpers on the ‘5’, and rear light units (shared with the Hillman Hunter) are scarce. You can spot a 5a by the reversing lamps incorporated in the light cluster rather than below the rear bumper.

 

GREASING TRUNNIONS

Trunnions need greasing every six months to avoid excess wear. Worn bushes can be an issue too and while not difficult to sort it will be labour-intensive. Generally though, the steering and brakes present few worries other than wear and tear and parts are cheap, but the suspension needs more careful checking. Remember to check the mounting points for corrosion as well. 

 

CRUNCHY SHIFTS

The Borg Warner 35 automatic added from 1970 should be smooth-shifting but may be in need of a re-build by now so budget accordingly if shifts are jerky.  The 4-speed manual ‘box can suffer from crunchy shifts and jumping out of gear.  Overdrive was added from ’71 and improves cruising ability but check it cuts in and out as it should, and check for leaks in the clutch hydraulics.

 

PRICEY INSIDES

Interiors can get pricey – so condition is another important factor so check it carefully. A full carpet set can cost £264 alone. Ensure minor trim parts are present and correct and check the electrics too as poor earths and aged wiring cause a multitude of niggling problems, although the electric windows in a 5a were always slow. Other issues to watch for include broken front seat frames and excessive creaks and rattles that can signify a tired example. 

 

OUR VERDICT

There’s something very alluring about a sporting estate. You like the sound, and the grunt of the V6. Plus it’s an estate – and its lines are reminiscent of a sports car. The juxtaposition between the three whets many people’s appetites and it’s easy to see why. Parts support is great, and they still offer phenomenal value for money.

Recently Added

1tSponsored Ad
1966
€39,950
cabriolet 1966 V8 manual gearbox
  • 25,445
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1100019
This Ford Mustang was delivered in the beautiful Wimbledon White colour and is in a very well res...
8
+31 416 751393
View details
Dsc05542Sponsored Ad
1953
£8,950
1800
  • 10
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: DIY1099987
Restoration needs finishing with all parts to finish. Fitted MGB engine, gearbox, rear axle and d...
4
07968473774
View details
1970alfaromeo1750gtvelocemainSponsored Ad
1970
£34,995
GT Veloce
  • 41,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1100017
1970 Alfa Romeo GT Veloce Superb / Upgraded
14
01451 899 184
View details
P3220001Sponsored Ad
£11,500
  • 41,100
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: DIY1092547
Resprayed in white. 4 previous owners. Fully restored Stags with this mileage are advertised for ...
27
07949387550
View details
Front rightSponsored Ad
1931
£175,000
  • 600
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1082337
MG F Magna Supercharged
11
02084 189191
View details
1tSponsored Ad
2008
€265,000
2008, 25.000 kms
  • 15,577
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1100014
With this Phantom Drophead, Rolls-Royce created a high class convertible. The impressive appearan...
8
+31 416 751393
View details
1tSponsored Ad
1988
€9,950
DL 1988 23.480 original kms
  • 14,589
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1100013
For sale is this fully original firsthand 1988 Volvo 340 DL with 23.480 original kms on the clock...
8
+31 416 751393
View details
ImageSponsored Ad
1965
£20,000
Mark 2
  • 7,953
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: DIY1088448
Stunning,very beautiful and rare, been painstakingly restored with wired wheels, twin exhausts, t...
12
07900430255
View details
Img 0785Sponsored Ad
1970
£34,750
Mach1
  • 39,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: DIY1095219
Immaculate, 4-speed top loader manual gearbox, paintwork is excellent, as is the rare Ivory inter...
6
07786933123
View details
Img 1545 (640x480)Sponsored Ad
1969
£19,950
  • 86,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: DIY1099332
Automatic, whole interior is brand new, newly repainted, new back suspension. Good investment. Pl...
7
07912105786
View details
See All Classic Cars for Sale