Reliant Scimitar GTE SE5A 

Restoration      

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When purchased it was in a very poor condition and has since undergone a complete rebuild by myself. It was completed in April 1997 and since then I use it mainly at weekends. I purchased the car with the intention of it being a rolling restoration but after a few problems in the first week of ownership (the brakes went on the drive home due to the servo putting all the brake fluid into the engine and then when I jacked it up to bleed the brakes the Jacking point started to collapse and the jack ended up virtually inside the car despite it having a month old MOT) it turned into a full body off restoration.

I began by stripping out all of the interior. There was not a lot left of the carpet but I still removed it as carefully as possible to use as a pattern for the new carpet. I labelled all the wire connections and any parts that I thought I might forget where they went. I then tried to undo the bolts holding the body to the chassis but most of them were rusted solid so it was out with the trusty angle grinder .I did actually manage to start a piece of sound insulation smouldering so it was lucky I had some water standing by.

The next stage was to remove any small parts from the engine and all other engine bay parts like the brake servo and windscreen wiper motor. I then turned m attention to removing the external trim etc such as the bumpers , kick plates, all windows, the doors, rear hatch and bonnet all of which, except for the bumpers were straight forward to remove. I took lots of pictures all through this stage to aid re-assembly. Unfortunately I discovered too late that the film had got caught in the camera and snapped near the beginning of the film. Of course this was only discovered when the camera was up to frame 40 of a 36 exposure film and my suspicions were aroused. I also made a list of any parts that needed replacing.

    

Next came the removal of the body. The worst part of this was finding all of the bolts that attached the body to the chassis as some of them decided that they didn't want to be found very easily. I then had to find some unsuspecting volunteers and together with an old garden swing we managed to remove the body. At this stage I also replaced the engine oil and filter as the engine had only just been rebuilt when I purchased the car and I didn't want any corrosives in the old oil eating away at the engine while it was standing. The body was stored under plastic sheeting at the side of the house and our roof space soon filled up with car parts.

After that, dismantling of the front & rear suspension was done, carefully noting the spacers on the front suspension so as to retain the correct wheel alignment on re-assembly. This then left a completely bare chassis. The first thing that I tackled was the chassis which needed both front outriggers, both sill sections and the offside diagonal rail at the rear replacing. After layers of under seal and rust were removed I cut out the rusted sections and welded in new ones after a lot of practice as I had never done any welding before. I purchased the new chassis sections from Graham walker and took lots of measurements before cutting out the rotten sections and welding in the new. I did this by cutting out one piece at a time and then welding in the new section so I could make sure everything lined up perfectly. I then painted the chassis with 2 coats of Smoothrite and then a coat of Waxoyl Under seal. Hopefully this should last a good while before the dreaded tin worm re-appears.

The chassis was then built up into a rolling chassis with new rubber bushes and front trunnions. The rear axle was discovered to be completely empty of oil, this was probably due to the breather hole being blocked solid and therefore as the pressure built up in the axle it emptied itself out of the front oil seal, and the case hardening on the crown wheel and pinion had worn through. I was surprised as the axle had been reasonably quiet when I drove it and therefore thought it was OK. I managed to find a good second hand replacement from Scimpart and this was fitted together with the engine and automatic gearbox. I knew from receipts that the engine had recently been rebuilt and the auto-box had been replaced so I didn't bother checking these.

  

The next stage was to fit the body back on to the chassis so that I could move it about easier and work on it under cover of the garage. With six people and the old garden swing it went back on relatively easily. I used all new nuts and bolts and plenty of copper grease to stop them seizing in the future. I then set about removing the layers of paint with a hot air gun. This was very time consuming but I didn't really want to use paint stripper in case it got into the fibreglass. There were several layers of paint and I discovered the car w a s originally painted maroon. The slow and sometimes sole destroying task of grinding out all the gel cracks and repairing them with fibreglass tissue was tackled next together with repairing the hole in the floor from the jack and some previously badly repaired damage. After what seemed like months of filling and rubbing down the car was ready for the primer. I sprayed on etch primer followed by three coats of primer and three topcoats which I rubbed down with 1000 grit wet & dry between coats. I now had renewed enthusiasm as it was starting to look more like a finished car. I left the paint for 2 weeks before cutting it back and polishing. I am quite pleased with the results.

The best part of all was to follow, putting back all the shiny bits. I had no real problems at this stage apart from some of the labels had fallen off some of the wires. The worst job was refitting the windscreen. I decided to wait for a hot day and this made it a lot easier. The engine started first time much to my amazement as it had not been fired up for three years. The next stage was to obtain an MOT so I took the car for its MOT in April '97 and it passed first time. Unfortunately on the short drive home from the garage the brakes suddenly decided to lock solid. After I left the car for a while they freed off. But the next time I took it out the same thing happened about a mile from home. I phoned Graham Walkers who had supplied the servo and they agreed that it was probably faulty and sent me a new one. Since fitting the new one I have had no more problems apart from occasionally it takes a second or two to release the brakes when I take my foot off the pedal. I have not managed to get to the bottom of this yet. The next problem that occurred, about 1 month later, was that the rear core plug on the engine decided to rust through and dump antifreeze all over the place. This meant an engine out job so while it was out I decided to replace all the other core plugs to be on the safe side. On removing one of the core plugs on the side of the block I found the rusted remains of two others inside the water jacket. I shouldn't think they did anything to aid the water circulation round the engine block.

The next problem that I encountered was when I entered it in the 1998 Guardian Royal Exchange Classic Car Run. Unfortunately it broke down just before the first checkpoint. Two other Scimitar owners on the run stopped to see if they could help. After we checked the obvious they went to the next check point to get the RAC to come and sort it out. The RAC man managed to get it going again but he thought it was because of dirty points. I managed to get about 400 yards to the checkpoint when it stopped again. The RAC man and another who also came to help sorted it out after 2 hours when it was found that the coil had given up. This however made us very late for the rest of the run and we only just made it to Silverstone in time.

The Finished Car