This Reliant Scimitar proves that not every cool estate car is German

13th March 2019
Andrew Willis

The first Goodwood Breakfast Club of 2019 was not blessed with the sunshine and warmth we all enjoyed during the February ‘heatwave’. Instead, Estate Car Sunday greeted us all with gale winds, sideways rain and a thick, leaden sky. Unperturbed by the atmospherics, one of the earliest arrivals to the event was a gorgeous Reliant Scimitar GTE in British racing green, which we couldn’t help but notice as it parked up within the Paddock.


Sat amongst a gaggle of modern estates including Audis, Volvos and Volkswagens, the Scimitar stood out from the crowd thanks to the kitsch design aesthetics of Tom Karen OBE, also famed for his famous Chopper bikes. 

The GTE is a classic estate, and one of the original estate tourers. Fitted with a Ford Essex V6, fibreglass body, modern discs and with excellent examples available for less than £10,000 plus change, its one well worth considering if you’re in the market for something a bit different. Cheap by today’s standards, easy to maintain, and plenty quick enough are all positives weighing in its favour. Most importantly, you can’t help but enjoy its retro personality.


Taking shelter nearby from the less enjoyable weather we meet owner Neil Lane, who cheerily runs us through the details.

“The car is going to be 40 years old this year, and I’ve had it for 2 and a half years. Originally she was Celtic Brown”, he says with a wry smile. 

“Reliant call it S*&t Brown… or Beige.” Nice.

Despite a slight pang of regret that we can’t enjoy the Scimitar in its original beige opulence, she’s now racing green, with a lovely fleck and sparkle to it once up-close-and-personal.


“It got restored in 2004. At that time it was owned by the Chairman of the Owner's club and was shown up at the NEC on the Classic Car stand, so it looked brighter then. 15 years on, it's showing a bit more of its age”.

We wouldn’t take Neil’s modesty as gospel because even in the grey, wet mist, we think the Scimitar looks almost faultless, and the famous fibreglass body looks like new, which is somewhat of a luxury for Neil, who has had a couple of MGBs disappear in front of his eyes due to rust.


There’s perhaps no finer endorsement of the Scimitar’s reliability as a classic that Neil has driven it out on such a day. You’d be hard-pressed to find many other classic owners to put their car out on wet, gritty roads, but Neil has no such concerns.


“It’s good fun, and you can lose the back quite easily. It still has a lot of torque and keeps up with modern traffic. It’s only about 130bhp but I’ve been told it’s gone round a track at 120mph and still pulling.

“In era it would have been very comfortable, but it’s not bad at all. It’s one of the original touring estates. She’s a nice car. I use it most weekends”.

Is there much more you need from an estate-tourer than that concise summary from Neil? Honestly? We think not, and the 2-door Reliant Scimitar is easily one of our favourite finds of Estate Car Sunday and a seriously good investment option for other fans of classic wagons.

Photography by James Lynch.

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