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Latst update January 28 2012 by Erik Hofman

The Reliant Scimitar SS1 / SST and Scimitar Sabre

LHD SS1 1800ti  Owner Bruno from Switserland.Three models for the price of one? These three are in one chapter, because the basicly the same. The SS1 is the 1983-1990 age; SST 1990 and the Scimitar Sabre 1992-1995.
All cars share (almost) the same chassis. SS1 has the all seperate bodywork, with all bad fittings that may come from that. The SST and Scimitar Sabre have a one piece body. Much smoother than an SS1. But the SST is rather plain to me. The Scimitar Sabre has the looks the car should have had in the first place.




The SS1 is possibly the most underrated sportscar in the scene. Where do you find so much value for money in a sportscar? The current prices are low, you can still find a decent SS1 1800ti for < £ 3000 / EUR 4500. But a real good car will do double. And for that amount of money you drive an open twoseater with a topspeed above 120 MpH / 200 KmH. Then add a real good roadbehaviour and low running cost to it and it is the best you can buy.
A bit too optimistic you think? Well, all of the above is true, but I admit, an SS1 needs some getting used to. And the interior looks plain, the dashboard is almost standard Austin Metro. Not a good choise. On the other hand you have a choise of models, from 1300cc, 1400cc, 1600cc Ford engines and a 1800cc Nissan turbo engine. The SS1 was made in both RHD as LHD.It offers a decent luggage space for the type of car. This might be the sportscar you were looking for.

What about the choise of engines? Start at the smallest version of the Ford engines, the 1300cc. It will get you from A to B, but not in a true sportscar way. The same goes for the 1400cc. These engines are too underpowered for the car.In fact it is the same engine as in the family Escort. Another downside is the 4 speed gearbox. And some cars had a hard live if a previous owner mistook a 13/1400 for a faster model.
A Ford 1600cc version is much better, these cars also have a 5 speed gearbox. This engine suits the car better. This is the Escort XR3 or Fiesta XR2 engine, the carburetor version. A 1600 is a rather good compomise between a high speed sportscar and a boulevard cruiser. It won't let you down driven fast, but the chassis never reaches the point of no return. And if you go for an exchange scheme like Specialized Engines offer: Big for Small, trading the 1600 for a 1900 cc. This gives you a fast car without turbo trouble.
And then you have the Nissan 1800cc turbo.... it exactly that what the SS1 makes a great sportscar. The upside is also the downside: The turbo is very fast and most of them are driven that way. Beware of tired turbos unless you want to spend a lot of money. A strange thing about these fast cars are the brakes. In the British press these have been considered good, but in Germany considered underrated.Some German cars have an uprated system with Porsche brake parts This was designed by a German enthousias, who works for Porsche. (He drives Porsches for a living, but his private car remains a 1800 ti.) But also in Britain some people complained about the brakes and made a conversion. An interesting story about brakes is available on Scimweb, under stories.

What can you expect from the SS1? In short- A great driving car with some nasty weak spots First: The chassis. This can rot badly, but all chassisnr. > ----900 cars have a galvanised chassis. A pre-900 chassis should be inspected carefully. But do not think evertything is rust-free on a >900 car. I've seen severe rust on '95 Scimitar Sabre windowframes.
Another bad thing can be the electrics. Still (much) better than on a GTE. It can work perfectly so why buy a car with strange wirings. Sometimes the headlight lifters have a live of their own.One or maybe even both won't come down anymore, but the cure is easy: cleaning the contacts. The powerwindows can stick.
Really beware of torn upper front suspension arms. Check these with the wheel removed and look at the joint to the chassis. No cracks allowed. Re-inforced replacements are widely available.

The Ford engines have the same things as standard Escorts, so no real surpises here. The Nissan engines have one or two nasty habbits. This engine does not last as long as the normal Nissan pertol engine.
Reason: having a hard life without proper maintenance. Turbo's will be gone after 150,000 km, like the engine itself. Most high milage cars will be refitted with a new engine. I know my previous 1800ti has one and my current has a replacement twinspark.
A real nasty habbit is blowing the gaskets around the turbo. You know it happened when the engine starts making a lot of noise accelerating. Some loss of power will occur. The trouble is not the gaskets, any Scimitar or Nissan dealer can provide these. The trouble is the amount of work. Replacing means dismantling the exhaust and turbo and lifting the engine at least 10 cm. A lot of work, and not so suitable for the average home mechanic.

SS1's were produced from 1984, launched Motor Show at the NEC, until februari 1990, a total made of only 1504 cars. Most cars were sold in the UK, with Germany as runner up. Other markets were Switserland and the Netherlands. The first year it was rather successfull:

SS1 from brochure 1984 - 25 produced
1985 - 705 produced
1986 - 264 produced
1987 - 237 produced
1988 - 187 produced
1989 - 91 produced
(incl. 1990)

But after just one year nobody seemed to want one. And the later cars are much more value for money, from chassis# 900 on the chassis were galvanised. This makes an SS1 virtually indestrucable. And also from chassis # 900 on LHD versions were built (though I know at least one LHD car with a lower number!). Looking at the sales figures, most 1987-onwards cars must have been LHD's.And from the ads in Slice; lots of pre-1987, but hardly later cars. A lot of German sold cars are / have been in the hands of non-RSSOC members. But a lot of owners are/were RSOCG-member cars (former German club).

The most unloved sportscar, what a cross to bear for a car. But if you have ever driven one, you know all the others were wrong.