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1972 RELIANT Scimitar GTE

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1972 RELIANT Scimitar GTE


Sporting estate cars are very much in vogue on 21st century European roads, with Audi, BMW and Mercedes all marketing high performance cars you can fit a wardrobe in. But back in 1968 the Reliant Scimitar GTE created the genre by combining a sporting chassis and drivetrain with a Ogle Design body that incorporated a large load area behind the two front seats.

Ford’s Capri 3-litre provided the powertrain, although Reliant opted to locate the rear axle properly with four trailing arms and a Watt’s Linkage, rather than relying on cart springs like the donor car. Coupled with a four-speed plus overdrive manual gearbox the Essex V6 leant the new model impressive performance and it’s looks gained admirers from all quarters, including, famously, Princess Anne, who was gifted an SE5 by her ma and pa for her 20th birthday (I got a book token for mine…).

A 0-60mph time of 8.5 seconds and a top speed of nearly 120mph made Scimitar owners amongst the fastest antiques dealers in the land, and that glassfibre bodywork resisted the British climate far better than the steel used on most cars of the period.

The GTE was an instant hit and pretty soon Reliant were making four for every booted GT they built.

The Vehicle

This Scimitar had one owner for 35 years until August this year, who looked after it fastidiously and with no expense spared, as the wealth of paperwork attests.

It has the highly desirable four speed manual gearbox with overdrive, and is finished in stunning Porsche Guards Red with a black leather interior. It had an extensive body off restoration at approximately 100,000 miles and the odometer now reads 42, 837 miles. During his 35 years of ownership the previous owner spared no expense and has built a vastly improved Scimitar over a standard spec car, whilst retaining period perfect looks.

On the Outside

The bodywork is still in very good condition with a very few minor flaws and has recently undergone a full flat and repolish. The bonnet was resprayed again earlier this year following a repair to a stress crack above bonnet catch, a common stress point on these cars. The nearside sill was repaired at the same time as the bonnet. The rusty steel was removed and the area repaired and resprayed. The offside sill is excellent. The front spoiler fitted to the car is from a Triumph Dolomite Sprint.

Since 1990 the car has only been used as a second car, for summer classic car shows and the occasional summer drive out. The enjoyment of improving and maintaining the car meant the original owner kept it for so long even though it wasn’t driven a great deal.

The engine was rebuilt by the previous owner approximately 40,000 miles ago. During the rebuild he improved it by fitting alloy timing gear in place of the fibre originals which can strip. He also installed John Wade high efficiency gas flowed unleaded cylinder heads, with larger inlet valves. The inlet manifold was also gas flowed.

In addition there’s a Kent V61 high performance camshaft, with a power band of 1000-5500rpm. John Wade modified the distributor’s advance curve to take full advantage of the other modifications. The distributor is fitted with a Lumenition contactless electronic ignition system, matched to a Lumenition coil. There are iridium spark plugs and silicone HT leads. The owner also fitted a brand new manual choke Weber carburettor, supplied and jetted by John Wade to match the engine modifications.

The Scimitar was rolling road tuned (See Slice article 265 September-October 2015) and engine power on was 160bhp at 4600rpm, with 188lb-ft torque at 2923rpm – very usable power for everyday traffic conditions.

A later type original air filter housing is fitted with K&N filter element, and there is a stainless steel braided oil pressure gauge pipe. The engine oil and filter have always been changed every year, regardless of mileage, and genuine EFL 90 oil filters always fitted.

The original two rod 2 gearbox has been fitted with improved, modified linkages to provide a much better gear change, and the clutch was replaced again when the gearbox was removed to improve the linkages last year. The vendor reports that the rear axle is quiet with no issues, and that a later cast iron rear diff cover is fitted with an easier access filler plug location.

The fuel system utilizes a Facet Possiflow FEP 045V electric fuel pump, and there is an inertia fuel cut out switch fitted, alongside a dash-mounted cut out switch. All fuel hoses are suitable for use with modern E10 petrol. The fuel tank and its locating straps are stainless steel.

The electrical system has been rebuilt incorporating relays refitted to protect high load components and wiring. The fuse box has been replaced with a unit with extra fuses, and the car has a 55 amp alternator and Cibie halogen head lamps.

All the dash bulbs are now LEDs. Most importantly on a glassfibre bodied car, there are separate earths run to all components to improve the reliability of the electrical system.

A Smartscreen Intermittent Wiper Relay system is fitted and there is a battery master switch, along with an original type period radio, which has been modified to accept an aux cable for iPods and phones. There are front and rear speakers with a balance control hidden in the glove box.

The car has period correct front Raydyot fog / driving lamps, as fitted as an optional extra by Reliant dealers when the cars were new (reproduction Scimitar decals in fog lamp covers as fitted to originals), and a rear fog lamp has been added.

The vendor reports that the car has never had any cooling issues under his ownership, and that it’s fitted with a high efficiency radiator with a Citroën BX cooling fan, plus as override switch in case the automatic switch fails. The coolant pipes are stainless steel and a low coolant level sensor is fitted to the header tank.

The Dunlop chromed alloy wheels are highly polished and are corrosion free, with only minor marks showing and the correct GTE decals on wheel centres. Stainless steel wheel nutsare fitted and the car runs on 195/70 HR14 tyres.

There’s a tow bar fitted with a chrome flipper cover – it’s never been used but it adds strength to the rear of car.

On the Inside

The car has an excellent black leather interior with a grey head lining – the front seats are Jaguar XJS, which provide extra lumbar support and head restraints. They’re a vast improvement on the originals.

There are no splits in the dash or the dash top and high quality Woollies wool carpets are fitted, with extra sound proofing.

The glass sunroof’s seal is in good condition and the vendor reports that it’s completely watertight.


AVO adjustable shock absorbers and spring seats provide adjustable suspension and the top wishbone bushes are nylon, while all other bushes are original spec to retain a more comfortable ride. The lower trunnions modified with grease nipples to prolong their life.

The servo assisted brakes are fitted with Green Stuff front brake pads and all hoses are by Aeroquip, with kunifer brake pipes and brass unions throughout. The car has always had regular brake fluid changes, and the handbrake linkage at the lever end has been modified as per the Reliant bulletin for greater efficiency.

There’s a custom made high performance stainless steel exhaust system by AAS Advanced Automotive systems, with a two inch bore, plus three into one custom manifolds.

The vendor assures us that the chassis is in perfect condition, still retaining anti-corrosion coating (Industrial marine coating), with only minor chips in isolated places. It is Waxoyled internally. The troublesome rollover bar end corrosion has been dealt with by new steel tubes and end plates.

History Highlights

The previous owner had the car from February 1986 to 2021. The owner prior to him acquired the car in 1982. The number of former keepers is 8, and there are copies of all previous owners’ registration documents in the vehicle file.

The car was used from 1986-1990 as an everyday car, then in 1990 the car again underwent a total refurbishment of all suspension components, engine bay and interior. The car also underwent a better quality body respray, again in Guards Red during this refurbishment.

The front bumpers and other items were rechromed during this time. The rear bumper has since been replaced in 2021 with a new stainless steel part.

The DVLA’s online MoT history confirms low annual mileage. The car is now MoT exempt and taxed as historic. Along with 34 old MoT certificates there is a ream of old bills for parts going back to the early 1980s, including the following.

June 1983. Used Ford Essex V6 engine – £63.

June 1983. Service parts – £26.

June 1983. Clutch parts – £25.

July 1983. Specialist engine welding work – £70.

August 1983. New valve stem oil seals – £28.

March 1986. Rear window struts – £26.

July 1986. K&N air filter – £33.

June 1987. Rear wiper motor – £37.

March 1988. Wishbone bushes – £46.

June 1988. Clutch release bearing and slave cylinder – £49.

June 1988. Clutch cover and driven plate – £48.

January 1990. Mountney steering wheel – £29.

February 1991. Door seals and trim parts £81.

March 1991. Rear radius arm bushes – £37.

March 1991. Differential parts – £65

May 1991. Suspension parts £118.

July 1991. Exterior door handles – £27.

April 1991. 4 Bilstein dampers – £239.

August 1991. Suspension parts – £84.

August 1991. Trim parts – £79.

August 1991. Top fulcrum and stereo parts – £47.

September £1991. Wheels parts – £41.

September 1991. Windscreen wiper system parts – £97.

October 1991. Upholstery work – £105.

November 1991. Stainless steel trim plates and rear hatch glass seal – £41.

November 1991. Hoses, fuel pump and service parts – £200.

November 1991. Fuel tank sender unit – £21.

December 1991. Wiper rack and service parts – £79.

January 1992. Dash and gear leaver gaiter £102.

February 1992. New exhaust system – £250.

March 1992. Centre console and door cards – £59.

March 1992. Tailgate struts – £30.

March 1992. Vinylkote – £42.

April 1992. Seatbelts £58.

June 1992. Trim parts, hatch handle and console lid – £101.

November 1992. Radius arm bushes – £55.

December 1992. Rear hatch handle and trim parts – £44.

June 1994. New front brake calipers – £128.

April 1999. Front hubs – £77.

September 2003. Water pump – £34

August 2001. Rear wheel cylinders – £22.

September 2005. Trunnion bush kits and suspension parts – £155.

March 2013. New Timing Gears – £245.

April 2009. New carburettor and modified distributor drive – £277.

July 2010. Custom made stainless steel exhaust system - £1000.

June 2014. Gas flowed cylinder heads and inlet manifolds – £711.

April 2016. Steering column bushes – £22.

May 2016. New brake calipers – £225.

May 2019 Suspension bushes – £45.

What We Think

This Scimitar is ready to just jump in and enjoy – a cherished and improved GTE which, over the 35 years of enthusiast ownership, had no expense spared. We haven’t seen a better GTE than this one and believe it could very well be the best in the UK. A rare opportunity indeed.

Our estimate for this car is £10,000 - £15,000.

Viewing is always encouraged. This particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays between 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage options plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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Marcus Robinson

  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 43924
  • Chassis Number: 931176
  • Engine: 3000
  • Gearbox: Manual
  • Steering position: RHD
  • Colour: Guards Red
  • Interior: Black Leather/vinyl
  • Estimated Price: £10,000 - £15,000

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