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Reliant Scimitar GTE

Reliant Scimitar GTE Published: 21st Dec 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Reliant Scimitar GTE
Reliant Scimitar GTE
Reliant Scimitar GTE
Reliant Scimitar GTE
Reliant Scimitar GTE
Reliant Scimitar GTE
Reliant Scimitar GTE
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Do you drive this great classic or are thinking of buying one? Here’s how to ensure that you get the best out of your car for years to come

A personal favourite of Princess Anne, but you don’t need an army of Royal flunkies to maintain your Scimitar because it’s about as easy as any Capri V6 to look after although engine access isn’t as good. QRG Scimitar and Graham Walker are the experts on all things Scimitar and stocks many new parts, still in their boxes, plus makes its own as well as servicing, repairing, restoring and selling Scimitars of all models. While, primarily, this feature centres on the GTE, a lot of the advice also applies to earlier SE4 models.

1. Transmission

Mod

Most were automatic but manual with overdrive suits car best and the swap is straightforward once obtaining the rare transmissions; SE4 had hens’ teeth optionalclose ratio ZF unit. Alternatively a modern fivespeed with better ratios from later Capri or Granada can be fitted. Many axle ratios used 2.8 models had much lower gearing.

Mend

Ford manual gearboxes can leak oil and the Zodiac unit loses synchro on second and third if it’s worn. Their comparative rarity now means expensive overhauls but overdrive faults are usually more electrical based and cheaper to fix. Autos were Borg Warner 35 then Ford’s own C3 unit, which is tougher; later Ford four-speed can fit.

2. Bottom end

Mod

Essex block can be taken to 3.2 and ultimately 3.4-litres but parts are rare and expensive. Uprated ’72 engine best but many parts not interchangeable with earlier unit. Colonge engines don’t have much stretch but you can fit 2.9 pistons to 2.8 block after machine work. The 2.9 heads are better but don’t fit 2.8 so you’ll have to modify originals.

Mend

Essex V6 was designed to be a diesel hence generous block crank sizes. Fibre timing gear is notorious for failing – replace with stronger if noisier steel types. As block was line bored by Ford’s factory, you need to know the size of the bearing and shells before ordering. Certain Colonge engine bits are fast becoming hard to source.

3. Brakes

Mod

Harder pads are the first step then EBC vented discs and braided hose pipes for better feel before fitting larger discs and callipers such as Wilwood or Brembo. Remember the systems are a mix of Triumph and Reliant and changed from Girling to Lockheed on the SE6a. A quirk: later cars used smaller discs but larger rear drums, so fit earlier ‘fronts’...

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There’s no real problem with the system and usual service rules only apply. Drums are of a Reliant design using TR6/ Morgan shoes. There were four types of wheel fitted to the car; steel, Dunlop (alloy centre) steel rim, ‘Princess Anne’ alloys and Wolfrace alloys and each type have their own fixings. Early, rare four-spoked steel road wheels are hens’ teeth stuff and pricey.

4. Engine output

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Breathing is biggest handicap. Better air filters from the likes of K&N then exhaust and manifolds is first step, before reworked heads from Burton Power. Stock Weber carb is good for 180bhp but triple DCNFs result in 200+. The 2.8-litre broadly similar; 2.9 has more torque plus there’s a great 24V Cosworth you can fit!

Mend

Notoriously under cooled, an uprated rad along with an electric cooling fan on V6 is now mandatory. Ditch the stock ignition in favour of electronic, preferably with a performance distributor. Use a 20W/50 classic oil for good pressure and keep an eye on the rocker gear’s studs working loose.

5. Front suspension

Mod

Initially it was Triumph TR-type until the SE6 when a Reliant design then took over. AVO adjustables seem the favoured route along with poly bushing to make the chassis tauter. Power steering only surfaced with the SE6 and, according to leading experts QRG of Northampton, “a nightmare” to fit earlier cars so go electric if you fancy PAS.

Mend

Usual TR trunnion troubles and breaking wishbones are the biggest worries; the latter’s mountings rust and crack due to stress, especially SE6s, where strain on suspension’s pick-up points are greater than TR6. Spring sag is not unknown. Damper set up varied when new so opt for an aftermarket adjustable to fine tune to suit.

6. Body & chassis

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Chassis varied, post ’82 GTEs and GTC gained galvanised frames. If rot is bad, brand new chassis are available from Graham Walker at £2800+VAT for SE6 refurbished for earlier cars (Graham Walker £2840 depending upon type) but part repair sections available. Fibreglass bodies are prone to usual crazing and cracking.

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Rust and accident damage are the biggest fear – front suspensions can even pull thorough and metal fatigue is not unknown. Main rails and front outriggers dictate just how sound the frame is. Because many cars boast a tow bar (and owners make full use of it!), it places further strain on rear ‘diagonals’ around the rear axle.

7. Electrics

Mod

Consider uprating the 55amp alternator (£79) as it is marginal. Reliant used poor fuseboxes and so it’s worth replacing the factory fit with a modern blade type. On SE6s wiring harness from starter to its connection( LH wing) is permanently live and can chafe.

Mend

Being fibreglass, poor earths are common so check here first. Rear of the car suffers the worst for electrical maladies it’s said. Fuseboxes known to melt; it’s under the bonnet in the SE5 and in the passenger footwell on later cars. Switchgear came from a variety of sources and isn’t that sturdy, so consider modifying if they play up.

8. Rear end

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A sophisticated set up for GTE and rear axle was also used on Jaguar’s XJ6, so is very strong. Just the usual uprating suffices along with poly bushing although it’s a good idea to fit adjustable dampers to counter greater loads when hauling etc. SE4 is far more orthodox with simple trailing arm set up.

Mend

Check for axle oil leaks. One common fault is a blocked hub overfill pipe which leads to grease making its way onto the brakes with obvious effect. Axles can become noisy in service but rarely give trouble over it. Regularly check the Watts arm linkage for security and aging as they are known to fail.

9. Trim

Mod

GTE cockpits can look very shabby although are fairly easy to restore even if replacement panels are very hard to find. Dashes prone to cracking and original style ones no longer available, for example. QRG has devised a better heater set up.

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Seat frames commonly fracture, and fitting superior SE6 perches in earlier model isn’t as simple at it looks. Most trim parts remain reasonably okay to source although few owners retrim to Reliant spec anyway. GTC hoods cost £875 (QRG).

SE4 differences

Pre-GTEs are different cars all round says Nigel at leading Scimitar specialist QRG, and few parts are interchangeable, not least the chassis although it was progressively altered with twin rear radius arms, and some late ’68 models featured a GTE-like Watt’s linkage. You can’t simply drop in the later V6 in place of the straight six as the entire front chassis and suspension turrets are different. Happily, Zodiac (2.5-litre) engine parts are quite plentiful and, if anything, it’s more robust affair. Better to leave it original (apart from interior as things are scarce) anyway as values usually exceed those of the GTE and are distancing themselves further.

 

And another thing…

Ideally, have a known Scimitar guru such as QRG or Graham Walker run the rule over yours as there are several wrinkles worth having done that only best seasoned experts know of – adjustment of the front suspension by shims, to name but one ruse – and the transformation can be huge, says QRG who adds you wouldn’t believe the lash ups he’s seen. It’s changing now with owners spending from £500 to 50 grand; Graham Walker will make as new ones for around £20,000. For fuller advice and help, talk to QRG, Graham Walker, Will Sparrow, Sporting- Relaints.com, High Peak.com and the reliantownersclub.co.uk.



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