1986 Reliant Scimitar Reviews

1986 Reliant Scimitar GTC 2.8 from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1986
First year of ownership2003
Most recent year of ownership2004
Engine and transmission 2.8 Automatic
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired80 miles
Most recent distance100 miles

Summary:

Every car you'll ever need

Faults:

Front Springs Broken

Driver's Seat Diaphragm split

Oil Pressure Pipe split

New rear shocks required

Wiper rack needed tightening.

General Comments:

This is a rare, stylish and immensely rewarding car to own.

It needs regular, but generally cheap maintenance from either owners who know their stuff or Scimitar specialists.

Part are cheap and in generally excellent supply.

It is quick, safe and strong and handles brilliantly. It will tow a boat or allow itself to be thrashed up the M1 or meander through the countryside - all with 4 people on board in open air bliss.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th April, 2004

1986 Reliant Scimitar SS1 1.6 from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1986
First year of ownership1996
Most recent year of ownership1998
Engine and transmission 1.6 Manual
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
9.2 / 10
Distance when acquired92000 miles
Most recent distance96500 miles
Previous carFord Sierra

Summary:

Impressive little car and sensational value

Faults:

Upon purchasing the car I stripped it and fully restored it, however the only things I found were two small areas of corrosion on the chassis in front of the rear wheel arches. Everything worked on the car and it never ever let me down.

General Comments:

I have owned a lot of performance cars, my current car is a Lotus Excel (also reviewed on this site) and the only reason I bought that is because I couldn't find another Scimitar or a newer Sabre at the time. If I was offered a good Scimitar now in direct swap for the Lotus I wouldn't even have to think about it and I love the Lotus! The SS1 is quite simply the most under rated and capable little sports car ever built. Fast, fun, reliable and insanely cheap to run. OK so the brakes fade if you drive it hard and the electrics can be a problem (though not on mine) but who cares when it's so much fun? My life will not be complete until I have another of these pocket rockets parked on my drive. Incidentally the impending birth of my daughter forced the sale of my beloved SS1, my then best friend bought it from me and promptly wrote it off, we no longer speak!!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st October, 2003

15th Dec 2008, 16:24

I have run an SST for 15 years now. Never changed it because it is so cheap to run reliable and fun to drive. My local garage can undertake major work, like re-bushing the front suspension, new road springs and new steering rack (the car has covered 250,000 miles) for little more than the cost of a service on my wife's car.

1986 Reliant Scimitar SSI inline 4 turbocharged from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1986
First year of ownership1986
Most recent year of ownership1990
Engine and transmission inline 4 turbocharged Manual
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 7 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Dealer Service marks 4 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.6 / 10
Distance when acquired0 miles
Most recent distance120000 miles
Previous carAustin Healey Sprite

Summary:

Nifty form of transport

Faults:

Fold down lights broke after 4 months. Not surprised, the motors die after a while on any car. Very cheap interior, almost toy like.

General Comments:

This is a cool little car, despite the elegant Italian styling the car itself isn't a terrible performer either. Thumbs up.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th June, 2003

1986 Reliant Scimitar GTC 2.8 from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1986
First year of ownership2001
Most recent year of ownership2002
Engine and transmission 2.8 Automatic
Performance marks 4 / 10
Reliability marks 0 / 10
Comfort marks 4 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 9 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
4.3 / 10
Distance when acquired63000 miles
Most recent distance69000 miles
Previous carTriumph Stag

Summary:

No redeeming features - avoid at all costs

Faults:

Overheated due to faulty thermostat.

Overheated (several times) due to faulty hoses.

Overheated due to faulty radiator.

Failed to start owing to dead battery.

Failed to start owing to dead battery 6 months later.

Electric windows failed.

Tyres persistently deflated, unevenly.

Wore out new tyres after 5,000 miles due to previous fault.

Ran hot and burned oil throughout, even in sub-freezing temperatures.

Went off tune every 500 to 1,000 miles resulting in mileage of 10 to 12 mpg.

Persistent strong petrol smell in cabin.

Soft top poor quality, difficult to erect, and very leaky when closed. Above the windscreen, the gaps are big enough to fit your fingers into. The doors also leak from the top edge.

70s-style textured vinyl hard top warped in storage and wouldn't reattach.

Driver's seat foam collapsed.

Regular electrical failures.

Windscreen wiper rubbers regularly worked loose and became entangled in one another, so they would always jam in heavy rain - I nearly died the first time this happened in fast traffic on a wet night.

Brakes failed at 65,000 miles.

General Comments:

This car has only three faults: either it won't start, or it stops unexpectedly, or it won't stop at all.

Failure of some aspect of the cooling system is usually the cause of the first two. The ridiculously small Metro battery goes flat very fast trying to turn over a 2.8 litre V6, which may be why my car used batteries every 3,000 miles or so.

I have no idea why the brakes failed, and it wasn't poor maintenance because it cost me a fortune.

You sit low down so visibility through the small screen is poor.

The cabin is shoddily built, with 1970s-style fibreglass "trim" panels and Austin switchgear, giving it a kit-car feel. The fibreglass dashboard panels also warp in the sun over the course of a few years, so the gloom of the tacky black GRP instrument panel is relieved only by yawning gaps where the yellow unpainted GRP is visible.

Handling appears good, but the car is too heavy and underpowered to be sure.

Sound insulation is poor, with very intrusive engine noise and much crash-bang-rattle from panels when driving over an uneven surface.

The engine makes a dull buzz and has no discernible character; in fact the most noticeable noise the car makes is a tinny whistling from the exhaust.

It is difficult to keep the car looking spruce because it has a lot of tacky matt black trim. Coupled with the ugly Wolfrace wheels, which oxidise to a dull grey within days of a polish, it has a drab and boxy appearance. Styling is reminiscent of a Mark IV Cortina, particularly when viewed from the side.

The car sits so low that it grounds regularly when traversing speed bumps, damaging the exhaust.

Although technically a 'classic', insurance is expensive and comparable to a modern car, probably because of the high cost of repair. Theft is unlikely though - the car's mechanical unreliability makes it unlikely a thief would get far in one.

The same limitation applies to owners too, of course. The car regularly let me down and was basically too unreliable to tolerate. Going anywhere in it was a reckless undertaking, since many of its faults were dangerous ones and every attempted journey in it brought a very strong chance of non-arrival or death.

The only thing to be said in this appalling, dangerous, unreliable car's favour is that it is rare. This is, however, a natural consequence of its undesirability.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 11th March, 2003

20th Apr 2003, 10:33

Why did you buy this car in the first place? You don't like the look of it, it was unreliable? It's a 15 year old car it's going to be unreliable. What did you expect.

2nd May 2003, 21:49

I have owned a 1982 Scimitar GTC for about 12 months. In this time it has given me and my family what can only be described as unadulterated pleasure.

Let's face it, the car is 20 years old, yet it has failed to start - never!!

Sure you need to service it regularly (and properly). Unlike 'modern' tin boxes, grease nipples need regular feeding to keep the running gear in good order.

I've had to have the hood repaired (at a meager cost of £20), the Wolf-race alloys need a good polish (if it needs doing, this will set you back £20-£60 per wheel by a professional!) and you should annually 'Wax-oil' the chassis, the only part of the car liable to corrosion (the rest is glass-fibre).

Don't buy a GTC if you want 'hands-off' motoring, but if you want full 4 seater open top fun for all the family, what else can you get for the price that will hold its value? (there were only 442 Scimitar GTC models made).

1986 Reliant Scimitar SS1 Ti 1.8 turbo petrol from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1986
Engine and transmission 1.8 turbo petrol
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 5 / 10
Dealer Service marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10

Faults:

Worn out turbo when purchased. Gearbox needed work at 108,000 miles. Alternator and cold start by-pass valve replaced.

General Comments:

This is a fantastic car for the money (sub 4K). Low insurance costs, low running costs, rare (approx 1500 SS1's of which 120 are Ti's). 0-60 sub 7 Sec. No rust! I could go on but you'd get bored.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd September, 1998

Average review marks: 7.2 / 10, based on 5 reviews