Brown Reliant Scimitar GTE As 1970s As It Gets

In 1970s England the coal mines shut down, Maggie Thatcher becomes the first female Prime Minister, Marc Bolan sang “life’s a gas, I hope it’s gonna last” (it didn’t), and this big, brown Reliant Scimitar GTE SE6 rolled off the Tamworth, Staffordshire production line with a two-fingered salute at the incoming wave of Japanese and German imports that had the conspirative benefits of reliability, mass production, a responsive dealer network—and a carbuilding policy that more often than not included the availability of all four wheels. Pff, details.

But none of those Johnny Foreigner cars had the inherent Britishness (whatever that means)! Just check out that Union Jack hood bonnet badge, surrounding a genuine scimitar, which has to be up there with one of the coolest car names ever! “Hey baby,” James Bond might have said to some tart at a party in an Islington flat once, “I drive a Scimitar.” And then he went off to settle a paternity suit or fifteen, because that’s what secret agents do. Well, that, and not drive turd-brown 1970s station wagons…

“Oi, this is a shooting brake!” Oh, right. Before “lifestyle marketing” was a twinkle in Don Draper’s eye, this Scimitar targeted the executives and middle-management types who would otherwise be driving something sensible, like, say, a Wolseley Six. Yes, this is the lugg-jury XE6 model, as evident by the strip of chrome on the schnoz, and the 3.0-liter Essex V6 under the bonnet. Later cars used the Ford Cologne 2.8-liter V6 built by the Germans; not even stalwart Reliant could escape the creeping influence of the Continent!

Just 543 SE6 Scimitars were produced, so this is a rare beast indeed. Is a turd gloriously brown wagon shooting brake on slotted mags built by a company in the West Midlands more 1970s than Thatcherism and Roger Waters’ angst?

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  1. SSurfer321 Avatar

    Reliability notwithstanding, I absolutely love it!

  2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Sad sack brown? Unreliable? I don't care; I love it.
    Love, love, love it.
    Not that I would ever own one, mind you.

  3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Note how even the emblem is misaligned.
    <img src="×720.jpg&quot; height="340">

  4. Alff Avatar

    Looks sharp.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      Edgy, even. Almost enough to hook me.

  5. Maxichamp Avatar

    What's the rule in GB regarding keeping old license plates?

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      Oh, there isn't just one rule. As near as I can tell, there's an essentially impenetrable array of regulations surrounding this, giving rise to and, in turn, feeding upon a fetishized market focused on some combination of (a) a demand for plates which vaguely spell things, in the near-absence of out-and-out vanity plates, (b) an odd belief that "hiding" the age of one's new-ish car by using a non-year-specific plate will somehow fool anyone, and (c) a wish to have period-correct plates on vintage cars. For point (c), the general rule of thumb seems to be that it is at the whim of unspecified mysterious entities as to whether this is possible or not, regardless of the status of the car and of the plate in question.
      From a distance, it's all quite entertaining.

    2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Oh, it's lots of fun. Say a car built in 1983 was assigned the registration ABC123Y. The owner of that car can, if they wish, buy a non-dating registration (e.g ABC123 where "Y" was the year identifier) from a registrations specialist. They can then pay £80 to have the registration transferred to their car. Alternatively, they should buy a date-specific registration, they can transfer that so long as the issue year wasn't more recent than the date of initial registration of the car.
      For instance, ABC 123 Y identifies the car as 1983, so I could apply CHR 1 S as it's a 1978 registration.
      Told you, lots of fun!

  6. 4DoorNoMore Avatar

    I was stationed in the UK during the 90's. I recall arguements with the natives about what years the VW Scirocco and Corrado were manufactured…the British car enthusiasts referred to a car's registration date rather than it's date of manufacture. Therefore, if a car sat on the lot for two years after production ended it was still referred to by the letter code of its date of first registration (M-reg or somesuch). It confused the hell out of everyone.

  7. tonyola Avatar

    Princess Anne was a huge fan of the Scimitar GTE – she owned a total of nine over the years. Pininfarina presented Reliant with a proposal for an all-new GTE in the early 1980s. Reliant was in trouble and didn't have the money to produce it, so the design was sold to Honda who turned it into the 1986 Accord Aerodeck. It's criminal that we didn't get this awesome Accord in the US.
    <img src="; width=400>

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi


      1. tonyola Avatar

        I know. Had I seen this in the Honda showrooms with a five-speed and sunroof in 1986, I'd be inside in a flash with my CRX for trade and my checkbook.

    2. Van Sarockin Avatar
      Van Sarockin

      Like a grown up CRX wagon. That's a lovely, tight design. Apparently, we were not worthy.

  8. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    You won't be particularly suprised to hear that I really like the Scimitar.
    A small firm called Middlebridge took over the build rights and produced them up until '86. Towards the end they were really very well sorted. I have an ambition to rebuild one with a modern V6 turbodiesel drivetrain; light weight and turbodiesel torque could be a recipe for fun and frolics.
    Unfortunately such an operation is probably a decent formula for bankruptcy, lonliness and despair.

    1. alcology Avatar

      If you have any ambition of transplanting anything, # 2 and 3 on that list are your drinking buddies. #1 is like your friend that will always get you drop-dead drunk but thankfully doesn't come around that often or regularly.

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        I'm looking forward to it! Thankfully, at my present address I have zero space for any of my intended projects.
        I'm safe, for the time being.

  9. sketchler Avatar

    Oh, a Reliant Scimitar! Princess Anne's got one of those, you know!

  10. Jim-bob Avatar

    I'd drive it as it sits if for no other reason than the WTF factor here in the States. Either that or I'd clean it up, buff out that marvelous brown paint and polish the slot mags to see just how good I could make it without spending a lot of cash. Then again… that v6 is just begging to be replaced by a 302/T-5 or LSX/T-56 too…

  11. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar
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