Sunday, November 12, 2017

Reliant Scimitar GTE (1968-86)

The Reliant Scimitar name was used for a series of sports car models produced by British car manufacturer Reliant between 1964 and 1986. During its 22-year production it developed into a range of versions. All have a fibreglass body mounted on a steel box-section chassis.

In 1964, Reliant's first Scimitar was the GT SE4 coupé. It was powered by a 2.6-litre Ford straight six from the Ford Zephyr and Zodiac. Later models were powered by a 2.5-litre V6 Essex engine. Variant models were SE4 A/B, SE4C. 

Reliant Scimitar GTE (SE5/ 5A) (1968-75)

In 1968, Tom Karen of Ogle Design was asked to submit some body designs based on the Ogle Design GTS estate car experiment for a new four seater Scimitar, the Reliant Scimitar SE5. For the SE5 John Crosthwaite and his team designed a completely different longer chassis frame, revised suspension, new and relocated fuel tank, a rollover bar, new cooling system, spare wheel mounted in the nose to give increased rear space and a 78 L fuel tank. The main change introduced in the SE5 was the sports estate hatchback body shape. 4,311 SE5s were produced. It was an instant success.

The SE5 came with the same 3.0-litre Ford Essex V6 engine used in the SE4 A/B. This gave the SE5 a claimed top speed of over 120 mph (193 km/h).

Princess Anne was given a manual overdrive SE5, registered 1420 H, as a joint 20th birthday present and Christmas present in November 1970 by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh (see photo below). Princess Anne subsequently owned eight other GTEs.

In 1972 several improvements were included in the upgrade to SE5A, including a boost in power. The extra 7 hp (5 kW) and maximum engine speed raised performance and the GTE was now capable of 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 8.5 seconds and top speed was raised to 121 mph (195 km/h). The 5A model sold more than any other Scimitar, with 5105 manufactured.

1970 Reliant Scimitar GTE

Princess Anne was given a manual overdrive SE5 as a joint 20th birthday present and Christmas present in November 1970 by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. It was Air Force blue in colour with a grey leather interior and registered 1420 H in recognition of her position as Colonel-in-Chief of the 14th/20th Hussars. Princess Anne subsequently owned eight other GTEs.

1972 Reliant Scimitar GTE

1974 Reliant Scimitar GTE

Reliant Scimitar GTE (SE6/ 6A/B) (1975-86)

In 1975, the SE6 series was promoted to the executive market. These models were two-door sports estates, again with the Ford V6 3.0 L engine as used in the SE5A with 135 bhp.  The wheelbase was increased by 4 inches (10 cm) and the track by 3 inches (8 cm) making the cars correspondingly longer and wider than their predecessors. The extra length was used to improve rear-seat legroom and access which enhanced the car's credentials as a 'genuine' four-seater. Noticeable changes from the earlier models were the increased in the size of the outer headlamps and the replacement of the chrome plated bumpers with rubber ones. 543 SE6 models were produced.

In 1976, the SE6A was introduced. An easy way to spot a SE6A from a SE6 is the change to orange from red reflectors on the rear extractor vents, and the 3 vertical grooves in the front bumper (in front of the wheel arches) were removed. 3877 SE6As were made, making it the most popular version of all the SE6 shape.

Ford had stopped making the "Essex" engine by 1981, and production stopped completely in 1988 so one of the major differences with the SE6B was the engine. The German-built Ford "Cologne" 2.8 L V6 was used instead. The SE6B failed to replicate the success of the earlier models. The design may have aged gracefully, but demand tailed off. The last models were a real improvement over the earlier SE6s, though, as they were lighter and stiffer and more comprehensively equipped. Only 437 SE6Bs were manufactured. Production ceased by 1986. (wikipedia &

1978 Reliant Scimitar GTE

1980 Reliant Scimitar GTE

Middlebridge Scimitar (1988–90)

After production at Reliant ceased, Middlebridge Scimitar Ltd. acquired the manufacturing rights to the Scimitar GTE in June 1987. This company produced a 2.9 L version of the GTE with many modifications and modernisations (over 450) including electronic fuel injection and a five-speed Ford T9 gearbox (with the Ford A4LD 4 speed auto as an option).

Only 78 Scimitars were ever produced by Middlebridge before the company went into receivership in 1990. (wikipedia &

1988 Middlebridge Scimitar

This particular car is the very first Middlebridge Scimitar ever made and bears a chassis number ending 001, together with an underbonnet VIN plate stamped 'Prototype No 1'. Handbuilt to the highest possible standards, the car was displayed by Middlebridge at the 1988 Motor Show and was subsequently lent to Princess Anne (a long time Scimitar fan) who was to keep it for three months before buying a production model of her own (chassis number 4) which she has kept to this day. (

(Photos from,,,,,,

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