6th Jun 2003, 10:37
In response to the 3/2003 comment on my original review, I bought the car despite reservations about its looks because I wanted a rare and unusual 4-seater convertible.
I spent a year looking, paid top money intending to fix the last few cosmetic issues to make it perfect.
I now understand why the cars are rare: they are appalling and dangerous.
I can afford to pay for specialist maintenance and did, spending thousands. Despite this, the car broke down or was otherwise unusable most of the time.
It couldn't be driven in warm weather because it would overheat. It couldn't be driven in rain because the wipers seized in rain. It couldn't be driven in icy weather because the brakes couldn't be trusted. It was basically unusable because given the above there was always a good chance of having to walk home.
I know two other Scim owners socially, and going by this and by the volume of posts about mechanical failures on the Scimitar mailing list my experience appears to be fairly typical.
Anyone who thinks a 15 year old car should be expected to be dangerously unreliable has obviously never driven many old cars. I have owned and driven TR4s, 6s, 7s, and various 70s Alfa Romeos and Fords and all have been entirely reliable. Mine let me down more often in an average month - 2 to 3 times - than all my other old cars ever have put together (twice, in fact).
My review may make uncomfortable reading for other owners, but the point of a review site is to give a balanced picture of what ownership is likely to involve. Some people's Scimitars are probably wonderful.
But if reliability is important to you, the best advice I can give anyone is that at the same time as you buy your Scimitar you should also invest £50 in buying a relatively well-built, well-engineered, and reliable second car, such as a Trabant, 70s Skoda, or Austin Allegro. You will then have a fallback for when your Scimitar breaks down.
19th Apr 2004, 16:30
I have a GTC. It was bought from someone who had paid absolute top dollar from a specialist dealer but got a car that really needed a decent service from someone who knows their stuff. He encountered a lot of the similar problems. I had them all sorted for £500 on purchase and have since used the car every day over 18000 miles without a single breakdown - including towing. Indeed it now runs on gas and is a joy to own. Reliant never fully developed these cars but better fans, decent shocks and simple but knowledgeable maintaiance is key.
e.g. (i) New front springs - both were broken hence it bottomed out
(ii) New rear springs (see above)
(iii) Tightening up of the wiper rack
(iv) New driver's seat diapraghm.
(v) Relays in the electrical system
(vi) Hi-power fan and high efficiency radiator
(vii) Granada size battery
(viii) New kevlar radiator hoses all round
Condemning a Scimitar is like condemning a Stag for its engine without embracing the fact that there are specialists who have addressed their weaknesses with better timing chains, cooling etc.
The only way to truly enjoy a Scimitar is to own one, take some pain, learn and then buy another. Usually this is done on a cheaper model but to do so on a GTC at a dealer price is an expensive lesson my friend.
23rd Feb 2008, 11:55
This is an old car, and so needs to be fully serviced and many parts replaced due to age, i.e. all rubber parts, electrical connections etc. A garage may have said that they sorted it, but obviously they did not do a good job. Do they understand old cars, and do they know about Scimitars?
If time and money is spent, there is no reason why the car will not be reliable, but remember it is not a modern car, it needs regular maintenance, and things need regular adjustment and checking. Doing this will result in a car that you will have confidence in, and a car that is fun, practical and does not shame itself in the outside lane with modern cars. How many old cars can that apply to?
Don Kennedy http://www.donkennedy.co.uk/
24th Feb 2008, 05:01
Sounds like the original reviewer bought a pup, despite what he believed it to be on purchase. This is a great shame as I've nothing but admiration for the Reliant Scimitar. I own a 1975 SE5a, which has carried me across Europe a couple of times, has been used to tow great loads without overheating, has helped me restore a house when acting as a classic builders van (a normal sized bath will fit in the boot with the rear seats folded down). I also used mine to commute the 90 mile return journey to work each day and for site visits, averaging about 600 miles a week without incident.
Reliable? Very much so. Overheating? Once when the 20 year old radiator got so clogged it was only about 20% efficient - people forget that radiators are a long term consumable item, even modern cars need them replacing every so often to maintain cooling efficiency.
I'm so impressed by Scimitars that I now own 2 and am an active club member. I would recommend them to anyone, but would say that buy wisely. A bad Scimitar can be a headache, but there are plenty of good ones about, and with correct maintenance and care, they are every bit as reliable as a modern car, and infinitely more fun to own and drive.
If the original reviewer believes his review to be 'balanced', then perhaps he'll take on board the opinions of happy owners such as myself. My Scimitar has never been 'dangerous' to drive, nor will it be, because I look after it and it looks after me.
I always find it amusing that whenever the modern car I drive breaks down (which does happen from time to time), the Scimitar GTE never fails to come to the rescue, even in cold, snow, frost or shine. It starts first time, and if you ignore the weak heater, is a joy to return to when modern computer based cars have a fit.
I beg any people reading these reviews, who are thinking that a Scimitar may be for them, to contact the club, and attend a local meeting where the members will more than likely let you have a go in their cars; a sort of a try before you buy. That way you can make your own minds up as to whether one of these great cars are for you.
Alternatively you could simply buy a knackered MGB or Triumph Stag for the same money as a tidy, MOT'd Scimitar, and spend all your life trying to get it on the road, where it may still not be as good as the Scimitar you passed up in the first place.
28th Dec 2008, 16:34
Personally I own a 1978 SE6 & use it daily. I love it, the kids love - they class it as a "proper car". And it is. Simple checks every week like what was the norm. in the 70`s & you should have no problems. High insurance? Well at £100 fully comp. parked on the street what do you think? The only problem I have had in the last 4 years is the radiator gave out - but it was 30 years old & a re core set me back a mere £130.
I suspect that the GTC mentioned in the original thread was an overpriced dog. £130 on a re cored, uprated rad would have sorted most of the problems - I can't get mine to run hotter than 80 degrees now! As for pathetic noise from the engine - well he did only have the 2.8 option - my 3L sucks small animals into the air intake & scares old people with the base beat from the standard rear end.