My First Car: Scimitar GTE


‘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.

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  • Big Rumbly 03 Jun 2008

    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 03 Jun 2008

    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 03 Jun 2008

    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 03 Jun 2008

    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 03 Jun 2008

    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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