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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.

Oli S
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Big Rumbly

Original Poster:

771 posts

164 months

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Monday 2nd June 2008 quote quote all
Had mine for 14 years, many headaches yes, but tons of goodtimes too.
Same colour as the one in the article, one mischievous MOT tester put Custard as the colour on the inspection sheet, did'nt see it till I got home.

danielhodgkiss

60 posts

87 months

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Monday 2nd June 2008 quote quote all
My Dad had one in a wierd two tone "st brown" (what was it with the seventies??) and had the wisdom to drop a 5.7 V8 from an old Camaro. It overheated so much that he had to peg open the bonnet (rear opening, luckily) to vent it.

Brakes were still rubbish.

Wigeon Incognito

3,229 posts

98 months

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Monday 2nd June 2008 quote quote all
What sort of price range do they sit in these days?

The reason I ask is that there's a nice looking red one on an 'X' plate (whatever series that may be) for sale near my dad's house and it's only advertised at £1395.

It looks to have been recently overhauled. The paintwork is all new (looks good), and the advert states a long list of work recently carried out as part of a 'full overhaul'. The interior is pretty tidy with just a couple of easy to fix tears in the fabric seats.

It's a 3.0 (according to the advert) with a manual gearbox if that helps anybody determine which series it is.

I keep thinking that it's advertised for less than I just spent on fixing some rust on my 944!!

Nacnud

2,187 posts

149 months

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Monday 2nd June 2008 quote quote all
I had one one of these when I was in my early 20s.
Bought it as a 'bargain' off a mate and it gave nothing but trouble.
Clutch master cylinder dumped fluid all over my feet and launched me into rush hour traffic on a busy roundabout.
Brake master cylinder seized locking up the wheels.
Fuel pump boiled the fuel which meant that in hot weather I'd be half way past an overtake and the engine would run out of fuel.
Automatic choke NEVER worked; was a complete mare until it the engine was warm.

Sold it to my younger brother - he was still in college but somehow the NFU insured him for not too much money!
He ran it for two trouble free years needing only to replace a strap on the petrol tank.

Then the git sold it for double what he paid me.
He reckoned it covered the tax, insurance and petrol he'd used in the two years; free motoring!

Watching my brother, I really regretted not hanging on to the Scimitar. It had tons of character. I always said if I found on in great condition I might give them another go, but that's never happened.

Edited by Nacnud on Monday 2nd June 14:02

Big Rumbly

Original Poster:

771 posts

164 months

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Monday 2nd June 2008 quote quote all
I sold mine for virtually the same as I paid for it 14 years earlier,there are some common problems, but the Owners club is the best in the business IMHO and Graham Walker can supply all the parts, If you're thinking of getting one contact the club RSSOC and get some old copies of SLICE.
The X plate will be an SE6b and will have the 2.8 Cologne V6, that does seem to be a keen price.
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ol' dirty

9,054 posts

95 months

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Monday 2nd June 2008 quote quote all
Cool, good choice for a first steed!

With regards to the fuel pump boiling the fuel, mine does that half way mid stomp & it coughs and spluuetrs like mad, until you ease off & re-apply the throttle slowly
although im leaning towards the fuel pump drawing in air from the seal (you can see it bubbling away in the glass housing)

Agree with the brakes though, compared to modern standards, they look like poppodums!
I will be upgrading mine in the near future!

Nacnud

2,187 posts

149 months

[news] 
Monday 2nd June 2008 quote quote all
ol' dirty said:
With regards to the fuel pump boiling the fuel, mine does that half way mid stomp & it coughs and spluuetrs like mad, until you ease off & re-apply the throttle slowly
although im leaning towards the fuel pump drawing in air from the seal (you can see it bubbling away in the glass housing)
This is a well known problem and there are 'standard' fixes.
As mentioned, the owners club is a fount of knowledge.

IIRC the best option is to fit an electric fuel pump and the second best is to fit a cork gasket which insulates the pump from the engine block.

LooseCannon

288 posts

107 months

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Monday 2nd June 2008 quote quote all
That was thoughtful of him, it was already idling when you arrived...good grief how old were you really, 10?? Fantastic cars though.

ol' dirty

9,054 posts

95 months

[news] 
Monday 2nd June 2008 quote quote all
Nacnud said:
This is a well known problem and there are 'standard' fixes.
As mentioned, the owners club is a fount of knowledge.

IIRC the best option is to fit an electric fuel pump and the second best is to fit a cork gasket which insulates the pump from the engine block.
I really must join the RSSOC, going at it alone with the rebuild is proving tricky in placeshehe

vixen1700

7,799 posts

150 months

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Monday 2nd June 2008 quote quote all
Pinched this off the Scimitar forum.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY5_T59MceY 

cool

dinkel

22,001 posts

138 months

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Monday 2nd June 2008 quote quote all
They look so cool . . .

sjp63

1,983 posts

152 months

[news] 
Monday 2nd June 2008 quote quote all
vixen1700 said:
Pinched this off the Scimitar forum.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY5_T59MceY 

cool
Christ I wonder if that's road legal - it looks seriously fast

vino 187

151 posts

76 months

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Monday 2nd June 2008 quote quote all
what a piece. (of excrement)

NiceCupOfTea

22,703 posts

131 months

[news] 
Monday 2nd June 2008 quote quote all
Isn't there somebody here who has a fantastic TVR engined one? cloud9

johnnymaestro

4,655 posts

103 months

[news] 
Tuesday 3rd June 2008 quote quote all
Ohhh, the Scimitar-The Bane of my life...

The one in the video with the Mondeo V6 still exists (I Think). The poster of the video, Scimmie, is a PHder with a SE5, and runs a Website, which has anything and everything about Scimitars on it,

http://www.sporting-reliants.com

Me, Well I race one, (God I am Mad) I had a big accident in Aug '07 and am still re-building,

http://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&a...

(Not that up to date though as car has now gone for cage and seat fitting)

When sorted, Scims are a very good handling car, plus with big brakes, uprated engine, and an extra gear, can prove a very quick car.

At 900kgs and 320bhp from the Essex 3000, Scims are good cars, but only after getting past the niggles of the mass produced road car.

Sorry to hear your tale of woe from the 6, but it seems to have stood you in good sted.

'A car with character, with many faults'

Hmmm....sounds like the Scim to me.

GingerNinja

3,946 posts

138 months

[news] 
Tuesday 3rd June 2008 quote quote all
NiceCupOfTea said:
Isn't there somebody here who has a fantastic TVR engined one? cloud9
Well sort of - mine has a V8 Development's 4.6litre cross-bolted Rover V8 with a T5 gearbox, plus assorted brake & suspension upgrades.....



taldo50

1,299 posts

74 months

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Tuesday 3rd June 2008 quote quote all
well it was crap, but i loved it and followed that up with a 635 csi, and a few other amusing bits and bobs including an xj40!!! so it didnt put me off petrolheadism completely lol!!! as for the fella who suggested i was only ten at the time, dont really understand what your getting at there mate??? anyway cheers for reading it!!!

pwd95

7,580 posts

118 months

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Tuesday 3rd June 2008 quote quote all
GingerNinja said:
Well sort of - mine has a V8 Development's 4.6litre cross-bolted Rover V8 with a T5 gearbox, plus assorted brake & suspension upgrades.....
Anyone asked you for first refusal on that?....scratchchin

PATTERNPART

424 posts

81 months

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Tuesday 3rd June 2008 quote quote all
My dad had two. The earliest one was J reg (1970)and all colours of red/ochre/orange but it went well enough. The next one was much smarter in white. We used to go on holiday in it. Two adults. Two teenagers. One medium size dog. In the back you had to decide at the start of the journey how you wanted your knees arranged for the next few hours. Akimbo or one side of the back of mum and dad's front seats. It had a large petrol tank so not many fuel stops for comfort. It would cruise at 100mph. Much better than an MGB. Good towing heavy trailers and boats. I never drove it sadly. My dad had a slight disaster with a Scottish hedge and a tractor and the bodywork snapped in half above the front wheels. Parts of it lived on for a few years. Heavy on springs and shock absorbers but generally reliable I remember.

NiallOswald

326 posts

86 months

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Tuesday 3rd June 2008 quote quote all
taldo50 said:
as for the fella who suggested i was only ten at the time, dont really understand what your getting at there mate???
I think he means that age and experience would tell you that if the car's already running when you go to view it, it probably means it doesn't start from cold very easilywink

Impressed with the 900 quid insurance, not bad going.
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