Let’s place aside the connections with royalty, fibreglass and the iconic Ogle styling and focus on how good the Scimitar is as a driving machine. With its strong chassis, proven Ford powertrain mounted so far back it could almost be classified as mid-engine, the car gained a reputation for balanced handling, good driver feedback and a decent ride. Furthermore, its lightweight but strong fibreglass body leant it perfectly for track racing.
Fully race prepared, this 1979 Reliant Scimitar SE6a has a competitive sporting spirit having competed on some of the UK’s best-known circuits. The appearance of this car can be described as brutally honest, and while it may not have the best of sheen, the structural rigidity, mechanical prowess and years of fettling by a knowledgeable and passionate owner counts as a literal win. Mechanically, the car has seen significant upgrades with the suspension, cooling, fuel and oil systems all carefully considered for reliability and optimum performance.
The owner has become something of a well-known name in competing with Scimitars and originally bought the car from a seller in Kent as a non-runner due to a seized water pump in 2008. The current owner started in motorsports in the mid-‘80s, but a non-motorsport related accident meant that his participation was temporarily put on hold, however, while convalescing he formed the idea of returning back to the track with his then daily driver. Swayed by the car's ability to power through gentle curves, cabin space and a flexible torquey V6 Essex engine, the car soon became a regular fixture on classic car track events. It was used on its first event in 2010 and in the following year won several classes in the events he’d entered. With ongoing fettling and improvements, the car continued to remain competitive having been reliably raced and finished four times in 2020, including charity fundraising and further class accolades. The car has a great deal of sentimental value, as it was the first car that he returned to the track with, however, his focus on an earlier race-prepared SE5 as well as a couple of other ongoing projects, means that he has decided to sell the SE6a. In his own words, it is literally ready to win races.
The car comes with its current V5 and also classifies as road tax and MOT exempt. It does come with several of its previous MOT’s and the owner can vouch for the additional spending on the tuning and upgrade parts. The owner states that the car is road legal, and is eligible for Pre ’83 Classic Touring Car and Classic Sports Car Club Future Classic events.
The interior has to be described in the loosest of terms, as much of the fittings and creature comforts have been removed but the owner has pointed out that most of it has been placed in storage. That said, the fixtures that have been retained in the car are in decent condition, including the door rubbers which are intact. The door cards and roof lining are good, with no significant signs of damage. Much of the carpet and soundproofing has been removed. All of the original seats have also been removed, with the driver's seat replaced with a single Ridgard race bucket seat fitted with a 6 point seat harness. The seat is a good fit for a tall well-built male, as the current owner will not mind us pointing out. There is a copious amount of black tape on the bolsters.
Much of the original dials, instrument panels and controls have been retained and are in good condition, all are said to be functional and show limited wear. There is a push-button engine starter, transponder switch, light rain switch and fuel pump switch which is connected to a Weber electric fuel pump and it is fitted with new internal fire extinguishers. The dashboard facia is in good order, with no major cracks, although the centre console has seen a small section cut away. The left armrest/centre console pocket lid shows wear but in the context of the interior, not something to lose sleep over. The Momo Champion steering wheel is lightly worn with blemishes noted on the lower section of the wheel. The removable side protection cage bars use a simple but effective locking system that allows easier access into the car, as part of an MSA approved 6 point roll cage.
First up, is that this is a race car. So the owner's consideration of the aesthetics of the paint condition was not his priority, with the structural integrity of the car being the more pressing aspect. With a car with a separate chassis, the car relies on the condition of the frame more than anything, so the good news is that the outriggers are solid throughout. The good condition of the embedded steel sections in the sill means that the doors hang straight, with no issues with opening and closing. Both door fits aren’t quite flush and for the purposes of competition, the rear hatch is sealed shut. The bonnet fit is good and has a pair of additional bonnet vents for considerations to the hot air flow and extraction. The body is obviously a one-piece fibreglass mould and in good condition, with no significant damage noted on the shell. The inner and outer wheel arches, front, back and the roof of the car look solid.
The paint has clearly seen some action over the years, but overall in a good state. The superficial paint damage on the fibreglass body, such as the blemishes on the sides of the wings and the odd chip on the front is not too distracting. The topcoat is likely to be original and it still retains a reasonable lustre with minor cracking in places. Some hand-finished silver paint details have been applied. Some specialist input could easily transform the presentation of the car if the new owner was motivated by the aesthetics, but the rough and ready finish does add a certain menace and honesty to the car. The chrome trim and details show signs of wear but are well fitted.
The side and rear hatch glass have been removed and replaced with blue tint plexiglass, all are sealed and said to be leak-free. The windscreen is in good condition with no chips or cracks, with decent rubber and trim. Both sets of bumpers have been reduced for the sake of weight, and show wear but are not damaged. The lights and lenses are all in good condition and the rear fog lights have been removed. The 14-inch Wolfrace alloy wheels are in good condition, with no significant damage and only some road wear tarnishing. The rear Toyo R888 and Advan 032R front slick tyres have a reasonable amount of life left in them. There is also an electric cut out switch and signage.
This is where the car really shines. It has seen a considerable amount of work, with the engine being subject to a rebuild to extract around 150bhp, with 17% more power than the original block. In modern terms, not a heady amount, but the combination of 38 DGAS carbs, a weber air intake and 102db stainless rear silencers, linked up to heat wrapped long branch exhausts manifolds, produce a more than satisfactory emotive experience.
Around 4 races and 1500 miles have occurred since the engine rebuild, which also saw a reground and balanced cranks and shells, Newman rally camshafts, steel timing gears and match ported inlet manifold, helping to reduce vibrations and therefore revs much sweeter at higher bands. Electrically, the engine has seen a rebuilt distributor, lumination electronic trigger ignition and a Hi-torque starter motor. The Ford derived Essex V6 engine is a well known and tuneable unit, with good low-end torque and any of the historic reliability issues with the engine were partly resolved by years of fettling and components upgrades. The car runs well, starting up instantly with no evidence of smoky fumes. It idles evenly and the temperature settles after a casual run. While the car is being used in anger, there were no reported issues with the cooling.
The uprated front braking systems use yellow stuff EBC pads, with the backplates being subject to modification to allow improved air ducting. The rear items use vented drums and are fitted with new wheel cylinders. They all are well up to the task for competition use, with no signs of fade or noise while in use. The suspension has naturally been subject to modification, with the front using single adjustable dampers with 375lb springs with a 3-degree negative camber to the suspension set up, and the rear using 250lb springs with Spax adjustable coil-overs. The natural conclusion to the uprated suspension is that the ride has certainly been sacrificed but there’s no doubting its poise on the racetrack. The gearbox is mated up to a Jaguar LSD, with the clutch and gear shifts said to be up to the task. There are also extinguisher nozzles to the engine bay.
The owner took on the car because it is a relatively DIY friendly preposition for what is a sleek touring car. The V6 engine is easy to tune and maintain, add in the lightweight nature of the body and you have the recipe for an ideal track day car. The Scimitar has always been under-appreciated as a road car, but this is a plus for anyone searching for a different kind of old-school RWD racer that will run rings around the competition.
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Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.
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