Reliant take off the lid



The Reliant Scimitar has taken off its hat to gain a little sun and gone on a diet in the engine compartment. Well, not quite, but a Reliant Scimitar GTC Convertible was introduced to the UK market on February 25th and the entire Scimitar range has had its engine changed from the traditional Ford 3-litre V6 Essex to Ford’s 2.8-litre German V6 engine. Buyers of the Staffordshire company’s cars will have a choice of manual transmission with overdrive or automatic transmission. The GTC Convertible carries a price tag of £1,360 including tax and VAT while the price tag for the new GTE is £10,324. Both new models will be exhibited at this month’s Geneva Motor Show though production for export to European markets is not scheduled until the middle of the year. 

Design work for the new convertible was done by Ogle Design, the studio which created the original GTE shape and though the chassis and front panels remain the same, aft of the doors the shape is entirely new with provision for stowage of the folding hood and a generously-sized boot. The design makes use of a T-bar structure, linking the windscreen header rail to a rollover hoop — the T-bar not being removable as all of its sections are bonded in place and fully trimmed. The manually operated hood has a frame designed jointly by Reliant and the Coventry Hood Company Ltd., while the material for the hood comes from the German Happich concern. In spite of the need to provide stowage for the hood the boot space is 7.2 cubic feet, the boot lid being supported by gas-filled struts when open, and the 20 gallon fuel tank has been retained. As with the GTE, the rear seats in the new GTC Convertible can be folded to allow lengthy loads to be accommodated. The GTC uses the same rear lamp clusters as the GTE, but with new surrounds while the rear bumper wraps around and extends as far forward as the rear wheel arches. The lower rear body panels are protected by gravel resistant tape to overcome, according to the manufacturer, complaints of paint erosion. The GTC’s seating package is virtually the same as the GTE, providing seating for four good-sized adults and with wide doors — as well as folding seats — to provide comfortable access.

Reliant believes the GTC Convertible will make a significant contribution to Scimitar sales — the car having the same engineering features of the GTE, plus the added attraction to those who like a little wind of being able to carry four adults and their luggage — something few convertibles can comfortably do. 

Both the GTE and the new GTC have glass-fibre bodies, a twin choke carburettor and mechanical fuel pump, thermostatically controlled electric fan and water pump with thermostatic heat control. Front suspension is independent with double wishbone coil springs, damper units and an anti-roll bar while the coil sprung, live rear axle is located by trailing arms and laterally, by Watts linkage. The chassis is box section pressed steel with cruciform. Steering is rack and pinion, 2.5 turns lock to lock, and though power steering is listed as an option, most cars will be so equipped and manual steering will be on special request. 

Brakes are discs at the front and drums at the rear — direct acting vacuum servo four wheel hydraulic — while a single dry plate clutch is offered. The manual four-speed synchromesh gearbox offers overdrive on third and top. Ratios are 3.16:1, 1.95:1, 1.41:1 and 1.00:1 respectively from first to fourth with a 0.78:1 o/d, while reverse is 3.35:1. Reliant’s adoption of the smaller Ford engine follows Ford’s decision to adopt the lighter and higher revving unit for its Granada, though Ford assure as that the Essex is still in production. Reliant has opted to use the 135 b.h.p. carburettor version initially and not the 160 b.b.p. fuel-injected unit, though development cars have been run with the higher powered engine and the engine will be added to the line-up if the company feels a clear demand for it exists. Modifications needed for the 2.8-litre engine included new engine mountings, changes to the front cross-member that runs ahead of the power unit, new exhaust manifolds to mate the engine with the existing downstream exhaust system while a revision of the cooling system meant the spare wheel had to be moved, though it still remains under the bonnet. The battery and washer bottle also had to be relocated while new electric wiring harnesses were designed to suit the electronic ignition system of the 2.8-litre engine, together with a bigger alternator. Official fuel economy figures for the GTE/GTC (manual with overdrive) are 17.6 m.p.g. in simulated urban driving and 35.6 m.p.g. at a constant 56 m.p.h. while the automatic transmission versions offer 17.5 m.p.g. and 30 m.p.g. respectively. 

Both the GTE/GTC have a front track of 59.14 inches and rear track of 56.13 inches. Wheelbase is 103.81 inches, length 174.5 inches, width 67.75 inches, height 52 inches, ground clearance 5.50 inches and a maximum towing weight of 2,240 lbs. Optional extras available include a mono radio stereo cassette player, stereo radio and cassette player with a four speaker system, cast alloy wheels, power steering, leather upholstery, tinted glass, electrically operated windows, sun roof (GTE) and electrically operated door mirror. — R.G.S.