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Reliant Scimitar SS1
[[File:1988.reliant.scimitar.ssi.1300.arp.jpg1988 Reliant Scimitar SS1 1300|frameless|upright=1.25|alt=]]
Production 1984-1992
Engine(s) 1.3, 1.6, 1.4 Ford or 1.8 Nissan I4
Transmission(s) 4 or 5 speed manual
Wheelbase 2,133 mm (84.0 in)[1]
Length 3,886 mm (153.0 in)[1]
Width 1,582 mm (62.3 in)[1]
Height 1,240 mm (48.8 in)[1]
Kerb weight 1,850 lb (839 kg) [1]
Designer Giovanni Michelotti

Aiming to fill a gap in the small sports car market, Scimitar SS1 was launched by Reliant in 1984 at the British International Motor Show in Birmingham. It was Michelotti's last design.[2] The name was reported to stand for Small Sports 1.[3] Despite plans for production of 2000 a year, only 1507 models were produced in the ten years of overall production.[4] In 1990, the SS1 was renamed as the SST following a facelift and in 1992 was launched as the Sabre. Sales of the Sabre ceased in 1995 with the collapse of Reliant.

Scimitar SS1 (1984–90)

The chassis was inspired by Lotus's Elan. The 1.3 L (later replaced with a 1.4 L) and 1.6 L engines were Ford CVH units, front mounted driving the rear wheels through a four-speed gearbox on the 1300 and 1400, and a five-speed gearbox with the 1600. The suspension was independent all round using coil springs with semi trailing arms at the rear. The body panels were made of polyurethane or glass reinforced polyester, fitted to a semi-space frame backbone chassis. The panels were designed to be easily removed and replaced to repair accident damage. A removable hard top was available as an option.

The SS1 1.6 L had a engine capacity of 1596 cc with a power output of 96 bhp (72 kW/97 PS) @ 6000 rpm and 133 lb·ft (180 N·m) @ 4000 of torque and could reach 110 mph (177.0 km/h) and accelerated to 0-60 mph in 9.6 seconds.[5] In 1986, the range was joined by the CA18ET 1809 cc turbocharged engine from the Nissan Silvia. The 1800Ti, as the Nissan-engined version was known, received standard alloy wheels and a small rear spoiler and gave the car a significant performance boost with a power output of 135 bhp (101 kW/137 PS) @ 6000, 143 lb·ft (194 N·m) of torque which provided for a top speed of 126 mph (202.8 km/h) mph and 0-60 mph in 7.6 seconds.[6]

This car had unusual uncovered rectangular Porsche 928 style pop-up headlamps and shared many components with production cars of the day, such as Austin-Rover switchgear and gauges.[7] It is currently one of the most affordable small sports convertibles on the second hand market, with low running costs and readily available parts.[3] The post 1986 with a galvanised chassis can be identified by a single windscreen wiper.

Scimitar SS1 1800Ti

Scimitar SS2 concept (1988)

The Scimitar SS2 concept car was based on the SS1 1800ti, restyled by William Towns. Intended for the United States market and powered by a V8 engine, it was commissioned by General Motors, but planned production of the car was dropped when GM funding was withdrawn.[8]

Scimitar SST (1990–92)

Some of the styling features of the SS2 prototype were incorporated into a facelifted SS1 model, renamed Scimitar SST ("T" for "Towns"). The SST was launched in 1990.[9]

The engines were Nissan's CA18ET (1800Ti) producing 135 bhp (101 kW/137 PS) and Ford's CVH (1400) producing 75 bhp (56 kW/76 PS).

Scimitar Sabre (1992–95)

Reliant Scimitar Sabre
Production 1992-1995
Engine(s) Ford 1.4, Nissan 1.8 and Rover K-series engine 1.4 I4
Transmission(s) 5 speed manual
Wheelbase 2,133 mm (84.0 in)
Length 3,886 mm (153.0 in)
Width 1,582 mm (62.3 in)
Height 1,240 mm (48.8 in)
Kerb weight 1,850 lb (839 kg)
Designer William Towns

The Scimitar Sabre was the last Scimitar model to be produced, re-using the name from the 1960s Reliant Sabre.

Based on the chassis of the SS1 and SST, it was announced in 1991 and launched in 1992 with the same 1.4 Ford engine and 1.8 Nissan engines as before.[10] A restyle followed in 1993 with the introduction of the new Rover K-series 1.4 L engine, with a top speed of 113 mph (181.9 km/h) and acceleration 0-60mpg in 9.4 seconds.[11] The Sabre was visually different with larger 15" wheels and flared wheel arches.


List known surving examples here



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Bladon, Stuart (1985). Observer's Book of Automobiles. Harmondsworth, UK: Warne. ISBN 0-7232-1675-4. 
  2. 3.0 3.1 Octane Buyers Guide
  3. Autocar 26 January 2011]
  4. Daily Mail Motor Review 1990
  5. Fast Lane, October 1987
  6. "Prototypes". (1984-10-28). Retrieved on 2010-11-24.
  7. "Reliant Sports Cars Index". Retrieved on 2010-11-24.
  8. Autocar & Motor 21 October 1992 page 106
  9. Car April 1995 page 173

External links

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