I don't know why but ever since seeing a Reliant Scimitar in a barn about 15 years ago I have wanted one, not for any real reason other than its cool looking in a kind of an ugly way.
March this year one came up for sale down in Humber as a full project. I loaded the Mrs & pooch into the car and went down with a trailer (taking the Mrs means its a day out and me being thoughtful not just me being away all day spending money on toys)
After a few hours drive from Newcastle and a pest of a job in getting the car on the trailer (ended up lifting the whole back of the car up with an engine crane and reversing the trailer underneath the car due to my winch giving up) This is what I ended up with...
1974 Reliant Scimitar SE5A, it has at some point been resprayed in Ford Rosso Red, the engine was already removed far the car, but importantly the car was complete. I always planned on pulling it apart and doing more of a resto mod any way so this was a good place to start.
Once I got the car home my first point was to look at the engine its the massively heavy Ford 3.0 Essex V6. On first look it seemed seized, I had planned on a more period correct set of mods so I had always planned on pulling the engine down to bare block and starting again.
Happily everything came apart really easily, a couple of days with diesel sitting in the bores and the stuck piston came free.
Once I had the engine completeley apart I could look into things further. Turns out the engine had had work done to it previously, it had 3.1 pistons and upgraded rods and a kent cam (although worn beyond use)
I sent the block out for hot tanking and sand blasting, because I am slightly wierd I decided on going for a high metallic gold paint for the block with black accessories.
A friend and I went down the Retro Rides this year at Shelsley Walsh (fantastic day btw) and that confirmed what had been on my mind for a while, even after all this work on the essex boat anchor I would probably get bored of the 180-200bhp I was hoping for very quick. The problem is taking it over that sort of power gets expensive... Super expensive.
After walking about 15 miles I saw a matt black scimitar with a Saab B234 engine in it. It just made total sense to me, bullet proof engine, bags of tuning potential and obviously turbo power! My friend who is big into his vauxhalls didn't help by talking me out of it like he should have done, (he knows the potential of these engines given how many vauxhalls are knocking about with saab power)
we had a 3 hour drive home and had managed to find a 1998 saab 900 with 43,000 miles and full service before even seeing the angel of the north.
I went and collected it the next day (got the seller down to £300) and drove home super excited.
One advantage of all those essex parts is that they are fairly sought after, one day one of the new plan I had sold 30% of the parts I had for 3 times what the whole Saab stood me.
Next on the list was to pull the body off to start rebuilding the chassis. After a full Saturday spent carfully with pen spray and a socket set trying remove the body bolts I then spent the sunday with an angle grinder and a friend on fire watch. P.S 40 year old steel bolts don't't come undone.
The following weekend we had a health and safety briefing and proceeded to lift the body off the car, no one died and more importantly the body came off in one piece. Successful day in my book.
I made wooden supports that held the body along the same points the chassis did, bolted some plastic casters to it and rolled the body into the garage to keep the moisture out of it.
I made a wooden cover for the chassis on the drive (luckily I have friendly neighbours) mainly to hide a big pile of steel from an over eager scrap man.
Now that I could have a proper look at it, I was pretty happy with what was there, I looked under it before I bought it, it seemed solid apart from the common places (outriggers etc) the main rails, uprights and main structure were all in good condition minus the surface rust. The outriggers, body mounts and a few other bits needed replaces but all in all not a shock.
Stripped all the suspension, fuel tank, rear axle, brake & fuel lines, left over wiring and anything else off the chassis till it was a bare frame.
I attacked the metal over 2 weekends with flappy disks and wire wheels (not clean work) I did a section, stopped applied a rust converter then a decent etch primer to protect. Some places the metal was thin under the rust so marked for repair.
I didn't bother stripper the outriggers, they are getting replaced anyway. Finished the top side, flipped over and started again
Stripped and sealed I took it down to my family's workshop, my brother and I spent a couple of weeks worth of evenings cutting out rotten metal and welding in replacements. The outriggers and body mounts were replaced in galvanized steel to hopefully protect for as long as possible. We added supports where the original reliant roll hoop that is glassed into the body is mounted, they were rotten anyway so can only image the metal sat in the sweaty fibre glass is just as bad. The plan is to use those supports and some more added further back for a half cage (halo bar just behind the rear seat with a pair of straight bars going straight back and a cross over)
Then on a recommendation from another thread on here I coated in Por-15. If it sticks to metal anywhere near as good as it does to skin then this thing will out live all of us.
Now all caught up and after what feels like weeks and weeks of metal work I can start rebuilding/modifying things to put back on the chassis. Starting with the rear axle. Scimitars came with a Salisbury 4HA which are decent to start with, there is a couple of scimitars already running decent power through them so will hold up fine. I am on the look out for a jag power lock diff which is a tried and tested swap to add an LSD.
New bearings, gaskets and rear brake rebuild kit ordered this week. I've already broken 1 puller trying to get the shafts out so that is next weeks job.
I'm not planning on swapping out the rear drums for disks, I have spoken to a few people who hillclimb or compete with the rear drums so will give them a go for now. there will be less than a ton to stop so nothing to stress about.
The plan from here is to rebuild all the suspension with polybushes although I am toying with the idea of getting into 3d printing to make my own (I will have to do this for the engine mounts anyway) add coilovers, refurbished calipers with a bigger disk set up at the front, get the chassis rolling before my brother's second child arrives at the end of March. After that he will be on house arrest for a few months while I potter on running brake lines, making the engine mounts and probably building the saab engine - we are going for around 350bhp which is easy for those engine but for peace of mind I will rebuild it before doing anything with it.
I'm liking this, I've had a Scimitar itch I've needed to scratch for years.
Now is the time to scratch that itch! They are way undervalued IMO they seem to be creeping up at the moment. A scruff runner was 800-1200 this time last year. They are closer to 2k now. There was even a SE5a like mine that got over 10k which is the first time I’ve seen that, it was stunning though.