Reliant Scimitar & Sabre Owners Club Nederland RSSOC-NL

Buyers guide GTE /GTC (in English)

Laatst bijgewerkt: 20 maart 2012 door Erik Hofman

This is the same story as featured on Scimitarweb. Since I wrote it, it is included on my site as well.

This buyers guide.

This buyers guide is primarily written for prospective owners of the Scimitar GTE models - the SE5, SE5a, SE6, SE6a and SE6b. Many parts of the guide can be used if you are looking for a Scimitar GT - the Coupé or SE4a/b/c or the Scimitar GTC - the SE8b. Much of the guide also encompasses the Middlebridge Scimitar. So before you start throwing money away, you should read this. The British RSSOC is selling a fully comprehensive buyers guide guide, which will set you back £3.99. If you still want to throw away money, please throw it in my direction.
First of all, if you want to buy a Scimitar, buy the best you can afford. There are still quite a few cars out there in good condition. SE6 models tend to be better, but only because they are younger! Nowadays even SE6b models (and GTC's!) can be very bad.
Secondly, some topics are not mentioned here specifically, but you should always make a thorough check like you would when buying any (older) car.



Rear: Not likely to cause problems, other than sagging springs, failed shock absorbers and worn bushes. There is a grease nipple for the bearing. Front: Based on the Triumph TR series. In fact, early SE5 have the same suspension. Double wishbone mounted in rubber. These rubbers wear. They need to be replaced on a regular basis. The trunnion and the trunnion bolt need regular greasing. When neglected the bold will fixate itself in the trunnion and destroy both.
There are four points (on both sides!) that need regular greasing: the trunnion (lower nipple); the trunnion bolt; ball joint (upper nipple); and the wheel bearing. Check in the wheel arches, best with wheel removed. If no signs of grease are visible, expect an overhaul. The front springs can also sag; distance between wheel arch and road should be 25" to 27"/ 63,5 cm to 68,5 cm. Check the tyres, they should wear equal and not on the inside. Also check the rear ones please, to exclude front-back swap. Complete overhaul is not very expensive, and are readily available through the Club's Trading Partners in the UK and Europe.


Points of attention:

Chassis: The chassis are really strong, but: both the SE5 and SE6 can rust badly after long periods of inattention. The chassis on the SE6b and the SE8b doesn't as it is galvanised. The truth is always somewhere in the middle. Models from 1983 and up have a galvanized chassis and should be rust free, so if rust is spotted on those, you know something happened to the car, such as poorly repaired accident damage.
Chassis front end: Rust can occur around the radiator and towards the front end. Also the front suspension mounting brackets can be bad. Check under the car and under the spare wheel.
Central chassis: Front chassis outriggers; they can collect mud. Check under the car and in the wheel arches. The centre outrigger: Check under the car, inspection of the upper side is almost impossible with the body on the chassis.
Rear end: Rear Suspension mounts are important, they hold the rear suspension and the body. They should be rust free. Like the front outriggers, rear outriggers also collect mud, check both under the car and in the wheel arches (wheels preferably removed). The chassis rear end rust is hard to detect with the body on, so check around the fuel tank .



Ford Essex 3 litre V6. If well maintained good for > 200.000 km (SE4/5/5a/6/6a). Oil pressure should at least 40 lb psi, 50 is better (> 2000 rpm) but it should never exceed 75 lb psi. At idling speed (engine hot) pressure should read about 25 lb psi. Two weak spots after high mileage: Worn oil pump drive shaft and worn cam timing gear. Ford Cologne 2.8 V6. If well maintained also good for > 200.000 km (SE6b/8). Oil pressure should at least 25lb psi (> 2000 rpm) but it should never exceed 75 lb psi. At idling speed (engine hot) pressure should read about 10 lb psi. 3 Litres may last longer than 2.8's, but both last well. Always look for oil and other leaks. A good engine doesn't have to leak. Blue smoke from the exhausts tell that the engine needs overhaul (worn bore). Check the level of oil and coolant. If the owner starts the car and revs it up (when cold), keep away from it. High revving kills both types of engines.
The engine tends to overheat (esp. SE6/6a). The engine will be damaged after serious overheating. Check for signs of coolant leaks and boiled over coolant. If an engine doesn't warm up or warms up very slowly, check if the thermostat is fitted. If no thermostat is fitted, the car is likely to be maintained by someone without the right qualifications. The electric cooling fan should work less than 1 minute and then stop. Keep away from cars with cooling fans that don't work. Remember that overheating can cause warped or cracked cylinderheads, expensive to repair. On early Scimitars (SE5 models) the fuel inlet pipe to the carburettor can get loose and cause a fire hazard, but it can be easily fixed.



A lot of different types of transmissions. First manual; with or without overdrive. Two types of overdrives are used. At least four types of gearboxes are used. SE6/6a have all the same type gearbox and overdrive. The gearboxes are all Ford products. Always be sure the overdrive works properly. It should engage and disengage without trouble. Reversing with an engaged overdrive kills the overdrive. Automatics: Two types: Borg Warner Type 35 and Ford C3 (some cars could be equipped with a Ford C4). The C3 is most common and better. All gear should engage easily, kickdown should work. Check for oil leaks. No gearbox or overdrive has to leak, but automatics can leak severely without other problems. Always be alert to freshly cleaned gearboxes.
Clutch: Check for signs of wear, like rattles and slip. The hydraulics between the pedal and the clutch can seize. These parts are non-Ford!
Propshafts and backaxles only need regular maintenance for a trouble free life. The backaxle has a small air hole on the right hand back side. This must be open, it is the only way for moisture to get out. Check behind/under the car. The differential oil should have been changed on a regular basis. It is common to get a lot of noise (heavy clonking) from the propshaft/backaxle. This is annoying but rather harmless. If the noise gets louder with the speed the differential could be worn.


Other technical topics:

The electrical installation. First: The main supplier of electrical stuff is/was Lucas. One thing about most Lucas products is: They will fail. My first GTE was a lot more reliable since I changed Lucas products for Bosch/Hella products. What I want to say is: Factory specifications are not sacred, reliability is. Second: The design of the electrical circuit is not perfect. Mods made to the car usually make it better. Beware of wiring looms with cracked coating. It can cause massive short circuits and fire! Renewal is a rather difficult and time-consuming job. The earthing can be a problem. Check if everything works properly. Check, if possible, for corroded contacts. These create high resistance, causing more heat than the wires can handle. They could melt with a risk of short circuits or worse. Check if everything works properly.

No, this car did not pass this guide...


The coachwork: Beware of cracks and crazing. A complete professional respray will cost at least the price of a small second-hand car! Check the body for all irregularities. Recent resprays can cover horror tracks. To be optimistic, everything on a bad coachwork can be repaired easily, it just takes (a lot of) time and money. SE5 models have metal reinforcements in the bodyshell. It is possible that the metal rusts and cracks the body locally. Difficult job! Buying an (accident) damaged SE6/8: Check the condition of the metal parts of the bumpers. These are rare parts and hard to find. Other: Wheels: Wolfrace wheels were a factory option on the SE6a/6b/8 models They were expensive then and still are. Earlier cars can have Dunlop wheels (SE5/5a/6/6a). These Dunlop wheels are composites, with alloy centres. The metals used can corrode each other. Hard to restore.



Driving position: The seats in the SE5 models can (and will?) break. The leather seats of later cars can be bad. SE5a interior panels are made of ABS, a plastic that degrades under the influence of sunlight. The panels can be cracked severe, but polyester replacements are available. SE6 panels are better but they won't last forever either. Check if dials and switches are a tight fixed, as sometimes the panels are so bad they will fall out! Check all interior trim, some parts are hard to find.
Other: Check for water leaks. Any window can and will leak. Fixing is possible: new rubbers and/or a lot of window sealant. Carpets sometimes rot away, growing mushrooms in a Scimitar is always a possibility! Carpets get soaked due to the water leaks described above. Tailgate hinges can rust and stop working. That's it.

Still convinced you want a Scimitar GTE?

Why not, the list above is a lot smaller than many other cars. If the car you are interested in is (proven) well maintained, you can delete all neglect-items and have a very short list.

And the car on the picture? This might come as a suprise but it did not pass this buyersguide. If this guide can't stop you from buying a car like this, you are deaf and blind or you do want all the work. Some of cars are just a little better than the car on the picture, but look like a good car. The grey/blue car was for free, but some bad cars have asking prices up to 4500 euro (continent) / 2500 uk pounds (UK). That is serious money. I hope I can help you to not-buying an exensive piece of junk.

Erik Hofman