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    Tom Karen talks about designing the Reliant Scimitar GTE

    Posted in Cars on Sunday, 03 June 2018

    “I’d love to have a chance to do a GTE successor” Styling the Scimitar We talk to the innovator who shaped Reliant’s sports estate, Tom Karen. So says stylist Dr Tom Karen as he is reunited with a Scimitar GTE – the landmark sporting estate that he is synonymous with. Mike Taylor gets the inside story of how the Reliant came about. Photography Tony Baker/LAT.

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    Victory... then defeat

    CAR #1971-Reliant-Scimitar-SE5 / #Reliant-Scimitar-SE5 / #Reliant-Scimitar / #Reliant / #1971

    Owned by Nigel Boothman (nigel.boothman@drive-my.com)
    Time owned Four years
    Miles this month 250
    Costs this month £325

    Previously Tried to get the car going. Failed.

    A sticky starter motor foiled me at the end of the last report, but with that removed, tested and replaced (having found nothing amiss) the car had no excuses left. Time to start that rebuilt engine.

    At this point I thought of all that money I’d handed to the engine builder back in 2015 and of the two years the engine had remained stationary, bar periodic rotations by hand to make sure everything still moved. So I felt the first start and subsequent break-in should be performed in the presence of someone who’d done such things before.

    Luckily I knew Leroy Grimwood, of Dunedin Performance Centre, Edinburgh. With the car transported across town, we gave it a fill of Miller’s running-in oil, span the oil pump drive with an electric drill, fitted the distributor and turned the key.

    The engine burst into life, and continued to roar strongly for the 15 or so minutes deemed adequate to break in all those internal surfaces. With finer timing adjustment and some help from Leroy to make sure the brakes and lights were MoT-worthy, the Scimitar passed its first test in three years.

    All was not well, however. A serious running fault developed as soon as the engine was up to temperature, or if it was parked after a short run and left for a few minutes. Convinced it was fuel vaporisation, I spent hours moving fuel pipes, even re-employing the mechanical pump I’d bypassed when an electric one was fitted. Still no joy.

    I gave up and took the car for analysis on a Krypton machine at the Car Tuning Clinic at Holyrood, where the intermittent death of the HT voltage was discovered. And sure enough, my fuelling problem was electrical – the little electronic ignition unit in my freshly-rebuilt distributor was expiring when it got warm. With points and condenser re-fitted, it ran fine.

    Well… it ran fine when we gave it 20o of ignition advance, though it was supposed to need only 12o to 14o. I was sure the TDC mark was accurate, but I needed some confidence for a 1000-mile ‘running in’ round trip to the Goodwood Revival. With the possibility of some unknown fault hanging over it just two days before the event, I had to take a view. And that view involved my 1991 VW Westfalia camper.

    VW camper van stands ready in the unlikely event of Scimitar failure. 3.0-litre #V6 runs, but needs 20º ignition advance.
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    votren911
    votren911 updated the group picture
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    Stalling for time. Again

    CAR #1971-Reliant-Scimitar-SE5 / #1971 / #Reliant-Scimitar-SE5 / #Reliant-Scimitar / #Reliant /
    Owned by Nigel Boothman (nigel.boothman@drive-my.com)
    Time owned Four years
    Miles this month 0 Costs this month £130
    Previously Placed new engine in engine bay, moved house, forgot about car

    When I ventured into the garage recently I found a box containing some nice Carboniferous-era plant fossils. It’s been so long since I was in there – renovating a house soaks up infinite time – that they may well have been healthy, living ferns when I last worked on the Scimitar. My pal Richard Hamer administered the arse-kick I needed, ‘I’m not doing anything next Thursday, why don’t we get your Scimitar going?’ I could hardly refuse. The engine, still resplendent in new paint from its rebuild at Brayon Engineering near Loch Lomond, was minutes away from running for the first time, or so I thought.

    Richard and I fitted an electric fuel pump and pressure regulator, plus a blanking plate for the old mechanical pump mounting. But the fuseboards had been out and the photos I took of their wiring were AWOL. Then, while fitting some expensive new silicone coolant hoses and over-engineered Mikalor clips, I discovered one of the connecting steel pipe sections had rotted at one end. I thought my luck was in when I spotted a piece of Alfa Romeo exhaust pipe of the right diameter, so I cut the length I needed and welded it on. After a fashion. Ever tried making a gas-tight butt weld with paper-thin, unevenly-corroded pipe and an ancient MIG machine with a dodgy wire feed? Having wasted two hours on this, I stopped and decided to spin the engine over with its plugs out to make myself feel better. Richard had worked out the fuseboard connections, but announced that the battery live cable seemed to be missing. Why? How? A jump lead did the trick. Or rather it didn’t; all we managed to do was release some smoke from the cable. So next time I’ll be removing the starter.

    Soon after, I was visiting my parents and had a chance to meet my father’s new pet, a patinated but very original 1938 Lancia Aprilia. The little Zenith 32 VIM carb was crusted with the crud of ages and the linkage was maladjusted, but with a hurried rebuild and most of the oil wiped off the spark plug connectors, it ran well enough for us to drive it up and down the road. Until it boiled, anyway. It’s a total joy – light, well-suspended and with such a good ‘crash’ gearbox you can almost treat it like a modern car. Now I want one too.

    Work finally resumes on the Scimitar after a lengthy break, but it’s anything but childs’ play. Nigel’s dad has a new toy: a 1938 Lancia Aprilia.
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    Malcolm McKay

    Buying Guide Reliant Scimitar GTE

    Posted in Cars on Sunday, 03 September 2017

    Nine steps to buying a Reliant Scimitar GTE. As prices start to move, now is the time for a GT bargain. Buying Guide Expert buying advice for a Scimitar GTE. Words Malcolm McKay. Photography Tom Wood.

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