RAC Cars News


The Reliant Scimitar: The Forgotten Classic

By raccars Published

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With renewed interest in the idea of classic cars as an investment purchase rather than a hobby, one model ripe for revival that's unlikely to escape notice from keen collectors for long is the Reliant Scimitar. The antithesis of its much derided stablemate the Robin, the Scimitar was a big, sporty and rather sexy coupe that was also available as an estate and cabriolet.

Inspired by the Daimler SX250 as interpreted by designer, David Ogle, the Scimitar GT in its original, coupe format was launched in 1964. The long bonnet hid the 2.6 litre straight six that powered the Fords Zephyr and Zodiac, and later the punchy 'Essex' Ford 3.0 litre V6, all riding upon the same chassis used by the Reliant Sabre. With an initial price of £1,292, the Scimitar GT offered a lot of luxury, elegance and performance for the time.

In 1968, the Scimitar GTE was commissioned. Springing from the pen of Tom Karen of Ogle Design, who would later design Luke Skywalker's Landspeeder, the GTE took the 2+2 coupe formation of the GT and turned it into a thing unheard of at the time: a sexy, performance estate. Quite a bit of re-engineering was necessary to accompany the new model but the result was a top speed of about 120mph.

In November 1970, an Air Force blue GTE was presented to Princess Anne by her parents, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh to mark her 20th birthday and Christmas. The car became a favourite of the princess, who went on to own another eight GTEs and was famously caught driving along the M1 at 90mph in one...

By 1977 Tom Karen was brought back into action to create the Scimitar GTC, a convertible version of the estate with a practical four seats and large boot. It hit the market in 1980 to praise from the press and public, but unfortunately, recession was about to hit and sales of the GTC were disappointing. With only 442 units built, today this version of this Scimitar is hard to find and very collectable.

In 1987 Reliant ceased to trade and the rights to the Scimitar passed to Middlebridge, which carried on manufacturing its own version of the GTE. After building only 78 models, the company folded. Graham Walker Ltd bought production rights to the Scimitar and is still quietly making them to order.

At the moment, the Scimitar is still very affordable and despite its growing classic status, makes a practical everyday user.

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