1964 - Reliant Scimitar GT - (SE4)

Scimitar Coupe with 2.6 litre straight six engine

As the Sabre 6 began looking a bit dated, Managing Director "Ray Wiggin" started looking for a new design.  While at the 1962 Motorshow, Ray Wiggin saw a car called an OGLE SX250.  It had been designed by David Ogle (of David Ogle Associates, later known as Ogle Design) and it was based on the Daimler Dart SP250 chassis and running gear.  The car had been privately commissioned by a managing director of the Helena Rubenstein Company (UK) called Boris Forter, who later had another one built for his girlfriend.

Daimler didn't use the design, so Reliant approached Ogle Design and asked to buy the rights for the design.  As well as some subtle changes, the body shell of Ogle SX250 was further modified to fit the existing Reliant Sabre chassis and running gear. 

It retained the same straight six engine from the Sabre, but included triple SU carburettors as standard, which now produced 120 bhp and propelled the car to a top speed of 117 mph.  It was 1964 when Reliant launched their new Scimitar GT at the Earls Court Motor Show. The Scimitar GT was praised for its elegant lines and performance figures for a price of £1,292.  The price included wire wheels, a luxurious interior with comprehensive instrumentation. Optional extras included a choice of De Normanville overdrive unit, electric sunroof and ZF gearbox.  Reliant produced approximately 296 straight six Scimitar GT's.

In April 2010 I bought the first ever Reliant Scimitar GT built and returned it to the road after the previous owner had restored it to a very high standard but had never used it. The paragraphs below give some history on this car:



Chassis 001 and 002 were given by Reliant to their chosen design house, Ogle, where Tom Karen and David Ogle developed the Scimitar GT from the Daimler SX250 design that Reliant had bought the rights to. Chassis 001 was never used on a finished car and Chassis 002 was registered as an Ogle Scimitar and wore the registration plates AUB 38B. This car is featured in much of the launch publicity material and is seen to have an Ogle badge on the nosecone. Sadly this car was last seen in a derelict state at the late Chris Lloyds premises in the early 1990’s and is now though to have been scrapped.

BUE 441B was built along with a sister car, BUE 442B (chassis 004) and were used to unveil the Scimitar GT to the waiting world at the October 1964 Earls Court Motor Show, you will note that this car was registered on 2nd September 1964, 7 weeks before the motor show. Cars were officially launched and put on sale in 1965.

Both motor show cars were built to showcase all the options Reliant could offer so in essence, both cars were mirrors of each other. BUE 441B as you can see has a tan interior with black infill panels while BUE 442B had a black interior with tan infill panels. Most of the interior publicity shots for the brochures were taken of this car before you with its lighter, airier interior detailing.

Other differences were that BUE 441B had a Webasto sunroof while its sister car had an electric sliding sunroof also 441B had the four speed gearbox with overdrive while 442B had a ZF four speed gearbox. The idea behind building such different sister cars was to allow the eager customer to see all the options Reliant offered in one place and then they could design their own car there and then on the motor show stand.

When newly built, this car was loaned out to Edward Eaves (AutoCar Journalist) who drove it to Monza and back, a report of this is on pages 81/82 Don Pithers book, The Scimitar and its Forebears.  At his suggestion Reliant converted the rear suspension to twin trailing arm, the old brackets etc are still visible on the chassis. Edward Eaves then took the car to Paul Ricard Circuit in France and reported the handling much improved.

The car was totally rebuilt about 10-15 years ago by the previous owner, Eric Sandiford, with a lot of the work done by the late Chris Lloyd, and had never been used or licensed on the road since 1986.  The rebuild included total chassis and suspension with new shockers.  New chrome wire wheels and rechromed bumpers. All electrics have been replaced including having wiring loom rebuilt.  Full interior trim and sun roof.  The original 2.5 straight six engine (with triple SU carbs) and gearbox were in good condition prior to rebuild. On the 13th March 2010, the car passed it’s first MOT in nearly 25 years without a hiccup and is now being eased back into use gently by it’s new owner, Matt Greenly, RSSOC Coupe Registrar and very happy chap!!

1966 - Reliant Scimitar GT - (SE4a/b)

Scimitar Coupe with 3 Litre V6 Essex engine (approx 591 built)

In late 1966 Ford dropped the 2.6 litre engine and replaced it with the new 3 litre Essex engine (as used in the latest MK IV Ford Zodiac).  This meant that Reliant had to do a good deal of development work to existing the Scimitar GT to enable the new more powerful engine to fit and obtain best performance and handling. 

As the Essex engine was shorter, it was mounted further back in the bulkhead to help improve weight distribution.  The lower wishbones were re-positioned, the tower structures and cross members were re-inforced and an anti roll bar was fitted.  Other modifications included replacing the wire wheels with wider steel wheels as standard, fitting a higher ratio rear axle (3.58 :1 replaced the 3.875). 

The interior was updated to move with the times.  There was now an all anti-dazzle black interior (including black  instrument dial bezels instead of the previous chrome versions).  The padded facia board had crash pads at the top and bottom and improvements were made with the ventilation by fitting directional variable ventilator jets, as used by Ford.

This is what Autocar said about the new 3 litre Scimitar GT on 12th January 1967:

"At a Glance - High performance 2+2 coupe.  Lusty, low revving engine in conjunction with high gearing gives effortless cruising at three-figure speeds.  Good gear change, but rather wide ratios.  Smooth, light clutch.  Ride and handling very good, and much improved over the earlier car.  Light, accurate steering and first class brakes with powerful servo.  Ventilation improved but still not ideal.  Fuel and range very good".

1967 - Reliant Scimitar GT - (SE4c)

Scimitar Coupe with 2.5 Litre V6 Essex engine (118 built)

Reliant launched their third and final version of the V6 Scimitar GT in late 1967.  To widen the Scimitars appeal they launched a slightly less powerful Scimitar GT. 

Using Fords 2.5 litre version of the V6 Essex engine meant that the car could still reach speeds of over 110 mph, have slightly better mpg, but ultimately reduce the cost to the public by approx £120.  

To look at the only difference between the 3 litre and 2.5 litre versions was the small badge on the boot giving the engine size. Approximately 118 of the 2.5 litre Scimitar GT's were sold before this version was withdrawn.  The standard Scimitar GT carried on being produced until the last model rolled out of the door in November 1970.


How the Coupé developed