The Scimitar was produced by the Reliant company in Tamworth, England between 1964 and 1986. The earlier 2-seater GT was produced up until 1968 when the 4-seater GTE was introduced. The first version, the SE5, ran until 1972 when it was superceded by the SE5A. The SE5A had numerous cosmetic changes compared to the early model and a slight power increase for it’s Ford 3 Litre V6 Essex engine. The SE5A can be recognised from a SE5 at the rear by the reverse lamps which are below the bumper on the earlier model and are incorporated into the rear clusters on the later version. There were 4,311 SE5’s built and 5105 SE5A’s.
The SE6 was introduced in 1975, it was more of a luxury model compared with the SE5 and was aimed at the executive market. It was longer and wider to give more room inside and is recognisable from the SE5 by the larger outside headlights. There were three model changes, SE6 (1975-76), SE6A (1976–80) and SE6B (1980–86). It had the same engine as the SE5 until Ford stopped production of the Essex engine, thus the introduction of the SE6B which used the Ford 2.8 Litre V6 Cologne motor as used in the Capri.
The Scimitar’s main claim to fame was that an SE5 was given to Princess Anne for her 20th birthday, she went on to own eight other GTE’s.
This ’73 Scimitar GTE (SE5A) was restored by me in the early 80’s when we lived in England. I sold it when we moved back to the Netherlands as I initially had nowhere to store it. Apart from that it was a right hand drive which is OK for a short holiday in the rest of Europe but not really ideal to keep.
I have no complete photographic history of the work as it was always a bit hit and miss with my use of the old film cameras. I did take these shots of the body after I’d removed the complete interior, all glass and all chrome work.
There were a couple of patches on the fibreglass body that needed the correct attention after I’d removed the filler used in the past. Some chrome parts needed rechroming and the whole interior needed some renovation. We (wife and I) re-covered the seats, fitted new carpets and refitted the headlining which was sagging. Outside it needed a complete respray and the vinyl roof needed some attention. The chassis (fibreglass body does not work as a monocoque) was in good condition so I decided not to do a body off, just did some cleaning and applied some underbody coating. I did pull the engine and after flushing, it was stripped down. It didn’t need a rebore so I just honed it, fitted new rings and bearings and put it back together. The heads were also in good condition so I just cleaned the valves and combustion chambers, fitted new valve seals and reassembled. With the heads re-installed with new gaskets the engine was given a fresh coat of paint and hung back in. The Weber 38DGAS received a rebuild kit just to be sure that it was functioning correctly. New plug leads and waterpump and it was beginning to look like it was earlier in it’s life (shame no photo’s). If you look carefully at the wheels on the old compared to wheels on the new you can see that the necessary elbow grease was applied here as well. Finally a set of old style number plates and we were ready for the owners club meetings, although I could probably go into fine detail about some of the other build and finishing work, without photo’s a bit pointless. Later it received a complete hand built stainless exhaust system bought through the owners club.
The car was never a trailer queen and although not a daily driver was used at least weekly. As a truck driver I didn’t use it through the week but my wife did sometimes. It was also used for holidays pulling a caravan that we had at the time. The picture at the top of the page was taken along the coast of the Côte d’Azur when holidaying in France. Below a photo of the car with caravan after visiting the Hostellerie Château des Fines Roches in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Vaucluse.
We had just purchased a case of Châteauneuf-du-Pape (my personal favourite of the Rhône wines) and if I recall correctly had paid about 30 francs a bottle. On the menu of the gastronomic restaurant at the castle they were charging around 200 francs a bottle, and I thought we got a good deal at the time, it was definitely more expensive in England at the time. Today they have a bottle from 2010 for €60.
Below – overnight stop somewhere along the way at a municipal camping, always very cheap and near to the centre of a small town where there are always good restaurants to be found.