The Reliant Scimitar GTE was released in 1968 as one of the first of its kind – a full production two door coupe with an estate (station wagon) rear end, otherwise known as a “shooting brake.”
This combination of the fun of a sports car with the practicality of a station wagon proved immediately popular, in fact the GTE became the best-selling four-wheeled Reliant of all time.
Fast Facts – The Reliant Scimitar GTE
- British automaker Reliant is best-known for their three-wheeled economy cars like the Reliant Robin and the Reliant Regal.
- Reliant started producing affordable three-wheelers in 1935, they diversified into four-wheelers with the release of the Reliant Rebel in the early 1960s.
- The Reliant Scimitar was released in 1964 initially as a coupe with a three-box design, it was later offered as the Scimitar GTE with a shooting brake rear end.
- The GTE was powered by the Ford Essex 3.0 V6, thanks in part to the lightweight fiberglass body the car could reach 120+ mph – an impressive figure for the time.
A New Kind Of Sports Car
The shooting brake is an unusual automobile body style typically characterized by two doors and a station wagon rear typically accessed via a hatchback.
Shooting brakes were initially used by pheasant hunters who prized the ability to lay their shotguns and beaters out in the rear while on a hunt, then fold down tailgate also made an excellent impromptu table for cups of tea and sandwiches.
Reliant were one of the first to create a production sports car based on this design, it was created by Ogle Design’s Tom Karen, a man who had done significant work with Reliant in the past.
Karen’s design was influenced by the closely related Reliant Scimitar GT, the new car was named the Scimitar GTE with that additional “E” standing for “Estate,” the British term for a station wagon. As with all Reliant cars the GTE had a body made entirely from fiberglass fitted to a steel chassis.
Despite the fact that Reliant was one of Britain’s smaller automakers the Scimitar GTE was quite well appointed by the standards of the era, the use of lightweight fiberglass meant the car was fast too, and it was impervious to the long-time nemesis of European sports cars – body rust.
The Arrival Of The Reliant Scimitar GTE
The Reliant Scimitar GTE entered production in 1968, it was internally coded the GTE SE5 and each car was fitted with the highly regarded Ford Essex 3.0 V6.
This 60º V6 engine would become one of the most versatile Ford engines of the period, it was fitted to everything from mid-engined sports cars like the AC 3000 ME to the Ford Transit van, and it became a favorite of low-volume car manufacturers like TVR, Marcos, Gilbern, and of course, Reliant.
The Reliant Scimitar GTE was built using much the same platform as the earlier Scimitar GT, it has a steel box section chassis with independent front suspension consisting of double A-arms and coil springs. In the rear the car has a live axle with four trailing arms, a Watt’s Linkage, and coil springs.
By the standards of the late 1960s the Scimitar GTE was a car that made a lot of sense if you were looking for a semi-practical mid-range GT car. It was priced slightly above the MGC GT, a period sales competitor, but it offered slightly quicker performance for the extra money.
The first version of the Scimitar GTE had a top speed of 120+ mph and a 0 – 60 mph time of 8.5 seconds – highly respectable times for the era. Later cars with slightly more powerful versions of the Ford V6 would improve on these times to a small degree.
Princess Anne is famously fond of the Scimitar GTE, the Queen and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh bought her one has a present on her 20th birthday. Since that time she has owned eight of them, and she still has one in her possession to this day.
Ultimately the Scimitar GTE would remain in production from 1968 until 1986, it arguably remains the most famous and most beloved of all the four-wheeled Reliants.
The 1972 Reliant Scimitar GTE Shown Here
The car you see here is a 1972 Scimitar GTE making it one of the SE5A vehicles with the slight power boost of 7 bhp, the upgraded dashboard, and the rear taillights with an integrated reversing light.
This car was owned by the same person for over 35 years, he took excellent care of it, and no expense was spared with maintenance. It’s fitted with the desirable four speed manual gearbox with overdrive and the car is finished in Porsche Guards Red with a black leather interior.
This GTE had an extensive body off restoration a number of years ago and the engine was rebuilt approximately 40,000 miles ago. The engine is now fitted with an alloy timing gear, John Wade high efficiency gas flowed unleaded cylinder heads, larger inlet valves, and a Kent V61 high performance camshaft.
The car is now being auctioned live online by The Market, at the time of writing there are a few days left to bid and you can click here to visit the listing.
Images courtesy of The Market by Bonhams
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