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Latst update june 11, 2013 by Erik Hofman

The Scimitar GTE

Brief History:

In 1966 the Reliant board thought they needed a four seater. The Scimitar GT was only a 2+2. Coincidentally, in 1966 the house designer, Ogle, was working on an estate version of the Anadol, a Reliant car mainly desgned for the Turkish market. At the same time Ogle was also working on a special for Triplex Safety Glass, to show what was possible with glass. This resulted in the Ogle GTS (Glazing Test Special), an estate car with a glass roof. This car was based on the Scimitar GT, also an Ogle design. The lines of the Ogle GTS and estate Anadol inspired Ogle and Reliant to create an estate version of the Scimitar.

The SE5:

The new car was introduced in 1968 at the Motor Show in London as the Scimitar GTE. This car ( the SE 5) was a whole new concept. There were cars like the Renault 16 or the Austin A40 Farina, but this was the first car to combine a sportcar with an estate. There were also some features that later became widely spread, like backseats, that could be folded seperately. Later that year also the windsceenwiper and washer on the rear window.

The SE5a:

The car was a success from the start. Even some LHD cars were exported. Where these cars went to I don't know, at least a handfull went to the Netherlands. This I know for sure, I usd to drive one of these. That car is now in Germany.
It was improved all the time. With the massproduction handwork combination you could say there isn't a car the same. The first major revision came in 1971, when the SE5A model was launched. The are just a few details changed on the outside, but a complete new facia and engine changes. Ford, who supplied the engines changed the 3 litre V6 due to the introduction of their new Granada/Consuls series. Reliant had no choise but to follow and adapt to the changes. There was one remarkable fact: LHD versions were no longer made.

The SE6:

In 1975 a complete new Scimitar was introduced, the SE6. This car was bigger, more luxurious and heavier than the SE5A. The appearance looked much the same,but the car lost its 60's look for a modern 70's one. The car now had safety bumpers and much more room for passengers in the back. Also the car was wider. Reliant thought they could go upmarket with the new Scimitar. The Scimitar's reputation was already good, the fact that HRH The Princess Anne had been a satisfied customer really improved the status. The Princess drove 9 different Scimitars since 1970 until this day. And she also owns and drives a Reliant Robin!

The SE6 was much more expensive than the SE5A and was not completely developed through. This gave a lot of critisism on quality, like waterleaks, roadbehaviour worse than expected (compared to the SE5A). In the second half of the seventies it was no longer standard that first series customers were a part of the developing project. But the car was soon changed.

The SE6A:

Haarlem   Dutch Scimitar meeting, spring 1997In 1976 the SE6A replaced the SE6. With better brakes, roadbehaviour and quality, it was as successfull as the SE5/SE5A. The LHD export version (since spring 1977) was back on the market. Main export markets were Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Like the SE5/5A there were constant changes made to the car. In 1980 there were some major changes that lead to the SE6B

The SE6B:

A small change to the nose was that the Scimitar name disappeared, but a major one was under the bonnet.Ford stopped making the Essex 3 Litre V6 in 1980 so Reliant had to find another engine. The Ford Cologne 2.8 Litre V6 was used instead.

Sadly enough there were no major changes to the suspension and other items that really looked dated. For example, the front suspension is very much like the Triumph TR6 (on early Scimitars without powersteering it is the same!). The origins of the suspension go back to the Triumph Mayflower of the early fifties. The car became therefore out of date and more important too expensive, as the sales dropped, the prices were rising.
But together with the introduction of the SE6B the convertible version of the Scimitar GTE was presented: the GTC (internally known as the SE8). GTC's are vey similar to GTE's, they just miss the roof. If you want to know more about those, check ScimWeb.
The production ceased in 1986.

Numbers made:

Scimitar GTE SE5 1968-1970 4.311
Scimitar GTE SE5A 1971-1975 5.105
Scimitar GTE SE6 1975-1976 543
Scimitar GTE SE6A 1976-1980 3.877
Scimitar GTE SE6B 1980-1986 437
Scimitar GTC 1980-1986 442

More Information:

After 1986 the Scimitar did not really die, Reliant sold all the manufacturing rights to a company named Middlebridge. This company wanted to create a Morgan-like status around the Scimitar, so it could last forever. Unfortunatelly Middlebridge went broke within a year. (This had little to do with the car!!!) So in 1989 the Scimitar really died. Less than 100 cars were built.
But Scimitars are tough cars: after Graham Walker (main Scimitar dealer; see the link-page) bought all the production rights, it was still possible to buy a new one (only on special order). Some years ago, rumours said (actually it was more than a rumour) GW is redeveloping the Scimitar and re-introduce it. Alas, these plans went under in a pre production stage.
In 2004 new rumours went around. Denpart were to be to re-introduce the Scimitar. Paul Denisson of Denpart bought the GW plans and redesigned it to meet modern standards. But this was never to appear. Sadly Paul Denisson died suddenly, he was only in his forties. This was the end of the Scimitar plans. In fact, this was the end of Denpart.

LHD cars

It is quite easy to recognize a factory made LHD Scimitar SE6a. All these cars have on the backside: (left) RELIANT (and right) SCIMITAR. All RHD cars have only SCIMITAR (left) and GTE (right) on the back. LHD's are rare, about 150 were made (all SE6A). The LHD's were only built in one trim level: 'Continental Edition' which means these cars have all the options available: power windows, leather seats, PAS etc.No LHD SE6 or SE6b. Strange is the SE6 has a slight different body, with space for a brakeservo on both sides, where the SE6a has only the space where the servo is fitted.

There are also a few LHD SE5 cars, less then 20 are known! Three or four were sold in the Netherlands. One of these are in my posession. Abopuit the same amount ended up in Denmark. A few remained in the UK! And some sold to Switzerland.

The LHD Scimitar GT is even more rare, it is said only 7 or 8 were built. Three of these cars are in the Netherlands in a good condition, one of the owners is Wim Deinum, former chairman Dutch club. Another car is now in Switzerland (former owner:Reliant importer, Waayenberg). Another car is somewhere in the Netherlands in a bad condition. And one car crashed on Zandvoort in a race. All Dutch cars are 3 litres. In Switzerland is a LHD GT 2.5 litre and another 3 litre. And recentl;y a German car popped up! It seems it was aquired by the Trabant or Wartburg factory. This makes 9 cars known to me. Are there more LHD GT's out there?

Even more special is the LHD Middlebridge GTE: only three built: two automatics and one 5-speed. All these cars are in the Netherlands.