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Monday 2nd June 2008


MY FIRST CAR: SCIMITAR GTE

PHer Paul Cataldo found out the hard way that a Scimitar GTE might not be the best first car


‘500 quid, only one problem...no rear window.’ These were the words communicated to me by ‘Towbar Fred’ over the bar in the pub I was working in at the time. The year was 2002, I was 18. The car was a 1978 Reliant Scimitar GTE (SE6A) Auto, in white with a blue/black vinyl Webasto roof and blue velour upholstery. 

Fred was trying to shift this car for a friend (Bob) who had lost his father and inherited it. He knew I was into cars and would be tempted, so I arranged to see it. When I arrived it was idling away in Fred's yard. I could hear the burble of the Essex V6 and as soon as I got out of the car I was completely sold (even though it was an auto and had no rear hatch). So I got the money together, mostly by borrowing from friends/my mum, and purchased it. Two weeks later I managed to insure it for nine hundred quid! And paid for this monthly, which I think I'm correct in saying, took up most of my monthly wage at the time.

Within an hour of ‘taking delivery’ a new rear window was fitted (a sheet of clear Perspex from Focus DIY secured with clear bathroom silicone) and I was on the road. Not having driven an older car before I wasn’t prepared for what would happen during my ownership. As I’m sure we all know, the Scimitar had a separate fibreglass tub plonked on top, which rattled like hell. The Essex V6 sounded great but only managed 12 or so mpg and cost 80 quid to fill up, and by the end of my ownership used to overrun after I turned the ignition off so as I walked away from it I heard a rattle and bang as the engine stopped, which made me look really cool in the college car park.

The kickdown on the auto gear box took an age to do anything after you gave it the beans.  And it only had three speeds. i.e. 55 mph in first, which was amusing. Other mishaps included throwing a tyre tread at 80 mph on the A172 approaching the A19 and experiencing near fatal brake fade on the Kirkstone pass in the lake district, so much so I boiled my brake fluid, and had to get trailered home to Teesside by the RAC, which took 6 hours...

The latter incident prompted me to sell the 'Folly of Plastic Death'. A geezer from Catterick bought it from me for 475 quid. I hope he is OK. So there we go my first car, The Reliant Scimitar, crap in places, crapper in others... but I loved it. Oh, and it overheated all the time. And the fibreglass body was in terrible condition.

Author: Oli S