Reliant made a name for itself by developing three-wheeled cars, with the manufacturer’s most famous vehicle being the Reliant Robin. One of the most underrated cars Reliant produced was the Scimitar. Sleek and practical, the Scimitar was a success for the company, but it’s not held in the same regard as other British classics like the Mini. We’re looking into the history of the Scimitar to see how it was developed.
The idea for the Scimitar came about when Reliant Managing Director Ray Wiggan started looking for a new design. While attending the 1962 Motorshow, he saw a car called an OGLE SX250. Designed by David Ogle, the vehicle had been based on the Daimler SP250. Daimler didn’t use the design, so Reliant bought the rights from Ogle.
The first Scimitar appeared in 1964 and was based on the chassis of a Reliant Sabre. The car’s components were made up of other models, such as the Ford Zephyr’s 2.6-litre Ford straight six engine. This helped to keep costs down and the first Scimitar became known as the GT SE4. The car could reach a top speed of 120 mph.
Between 1964 and 1966, around 300 SE4s were built and sold for £1292 each. In 1966, Ford dropped the 2.6-litre straight six engine in favour of the 3-litre Essex V6, so Reliant needed to redevelop the Scimitar. The new model featured an updated interior and space to store the Essex V6 engine.
A lot of Scimitar variants were made, such as the 1975 SE6. Billed as a luxury model, the SE6 featured a longer body than previous versions. The interior was more spacious than the original Scimitar, representing Reliant’s transition into the executive market.
Another major upgrade came in 1980, with the introduction of the Scimitar GTC. Designed by Ogle, the GTC was a large convertible. It had a practical-sized boot and sleek body that made it look like the quintessential sports car. However, despite favourable road tests, the GTC failed to make an impact on the market. 1980 was a bad time to be selling anything over the top. As a result, only 442 open-topped Scimitars were built.
The Scimitar remains one of Reliant’s best offerings. They created a vehicle that was practical for the time period and wasn’t afraid to push design boundaries.