RELIANT SCIMITAR

1985 Reliant Scimitar SS1

The Reliant Scimitar was an Italian styled, British-built sports car that proved very popular in the USA. One of its best-known owners was Princess Anne who gave the car quite a deal of publicity when she was booked for speeding in her Scimitar.

With its distinctive plastic body, the Scimitar SS1 two-seater was introduced to the market by Reliant early in 1985. Reliant had a lot of experience in building short-run models with glass fibre bodies and outsourced running gear.

In mid-1986 Reliant upgraded its Scimitar by introducing the Ti version, in response to earlier criticism of its lack of power. The problem was solved by equipping the car with a 100 kW version of the Nissan Silvia 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo engine, plus the five-speed gearbox that went with it. By fitting this engine, the car became a true sports car. The 0-100 km/h acceleration time dropped from over 11 seconds with the previous 1.6-litre Ford four-cylinder from the Escort XR3 car to a little over 7 seconds. Top speed jumped from 168 km/h to over 200 km/h.

Its fabricated steel chassis with independent coil spring suspension all round worked really well. There was a tendency towards wheel spin but the car was rated as easy to drive, performing so predictably that even reasonably competent drivers could exploit its performance levels easily.

One of its competitors at the time, the highly rated mid-engined Toyota MR2, was only slightly ahead in performance yet cost considerably more.

With a mixture of disc and drum brakes in a very lightweight package it stopped as well as it ran. Its responsive engine made it a very fast car and with its removable top it fulfilled the promise of a true drivers’ sports car which made it a worthy successor to the MG Midgets and Triumph Spitfires of a previous era.

About Alistair Kennedy

Alistair Kennedy is Automotive News Service and Marque Publishing's business manager and the company's jack-of-all-trades. An accountant by profession, he designs the Marque range of motoring book titles, operates the company's motoring bookshop on the NSW Central Coast and the associated web site, as well as its huge digital and hard copy database. Whenever we can escape from the office he does so to cover new vehicle releases and contributes news stories. Alistair's other interests include cricket and family history on which he has written three books.
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