Reliant Scimitar GTE
1968 to 1971
Code Name (SE5)
In 1967 Ray Wiggin looked at the possibility of extending the Scimitar GT to make it a true four seater. Mr.Wiggin turned to Tom Karen of Ogle Design Ltd to come up with some ideas.
Tom Karen came up with the idea of extending the rear of Scimitar GT Coupe body shell and using a rising waistline/roofline (what Tom called an extended greenhouse) and before long he set about redesigning an existing Scimitar GT bodyshell to accommodate two separate rear seats.
Above: Outlines shows the difference between the Scimitar GT and GTE body shell
Ogle Design's body designer "Peter Bailey" soon came up with a mock-up of the proposed GTE. The body work had to be lengthened and the Scimitar GT chassis was elongated (hence the longer wheelbase).
Above: The Scimitar GTE mock up designed by Ogle Design Ltd.
Ogle Design Ltd built a prototype of the proposed Scimitar GTE at their headquarters in Letchworth when it was then driven to Reliant in Tamworth for evaluation in February 1968.
Above: The prototype Scimitar GTE (note the front light/grille assembly and 15" Coupe Wheels)
Apart from a few changes which included restyling the front nose/grill setup, fitting 14" wheels and modifying the rear ventilation; the car remained basically the same and Ray Wiggin made the bold decision to give the go ahead for the Scimitar GTE to go from a prototype stage to full scale production at the Reliant Motor Company.
Chief engineer John Crosthwaite (ex-BRM, Cooper and Lotus engineer) was employed by Reliant and his specialty was used to design a chassis suitable for he GTE as opposed to elongating the existing GT chassis's.
By October 1968 the new Scimitar GTE was in full production.
Reliant had their new Ogle designed Scimitar GTE (Grand Touring Estate) on display at the London motor show in 1968. The Scimitar GTE was a very innovative design, but feedback on the design varied from the press who either loved it or hated it.
Above: Scimitar GTE with optional all alloy "GT" wheels produced by Mill Accessory Group Ltd, (later referred to as Princess Anne Wheels)
Above: The Scimitar GTE (Gran Tourismo Estate)
The GTE interior was virtually identical to the GT model, but it had individual fitted rear seats that could be folded completely flat to increase the luggage compartment. The luggage area was accessible by opening the rear window hatch.
Another clever idea Reliant used was the rear arm rest, which was situated between the two rear seats and could hinge forward when the seats were folded flat to stop any luggage sliding forward into the cockpit area.
Journalists soon became quite impressed with the Scimitar GTE when they took it out on road tests. There was no other production car like it at the time that offered high cruising speeds, enough room for four adults and have luggage space too.
The GTE still retained the Ford 3 litre Essex engine which had 138 BHP from the Scimitar GT, giving the car a top speed of 120 M.P.H. With a four speed box with LH type Laycock overdrive unit the car was a pleasure the drive.
Later developments included an Automatic Borg & Warner and after a number of complaints from the press saying how dirty the rear screen got, Reliant quickly reacted by fitting of a rear screen wash/wiper (another Reliant first).
The Scimitar GTE was also a favorable mode of transport for Princess Anne, who had her first one for her 20th Birthday and has had another 8 GTE's since (and currently owns a Middlebridge Scimitar). It offered Princess Anne high speed motoring (as she famously found out by getting caught speeding in it) and had plenty of room for the Princess's horse riding equipment.
Above: Princess Anne leaving Buckingham Palace in 1970
Approximately 4311 Scimitar GTE SE5's were produced between August 1968 and October 1971
Above: Stunning example of a Scimitar GTE SE5