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