by Steven Smith
The Scimitar GTE (Grand Touring Escape) used a Ford 3
liter V6 engine and was the first car to have its back
seats fold down separately, a technique that even today
is copied by nearly all hatchback cars.
Its wedge-like profile defied the fact that it boasted
36 cu ft of load space, and was accessible through a stylish
glass hatch supported on spring struts. Its body was shaped
in rust-resistant glassfibre and was strengthened by its
The powerful motor in such a light car resulted in it
being extremely fast and could easily handle 193 km/h.
It was also very reliable and was soon viewed very favourably
when Princess Anne received one in 1970. SE6 cars were
introduced in 1975.
They were softer and wider-bodied and much more comfortable,
but unfortunately were never as popular as the 1968 model. Competitors began mass-marketing cheap copies causing
Reliant to lose a grip on the market that used to be solely
theirs. The final car left the production line in 1986.
When Reliant went into liquidiation, they were bought
out and production started again in 1989. The new company
traded under the name of Middlebridge, and the new car
was called a Middlebridge Scimitar.
It was supposed to be better made then the Reliant, but
having had a Reliant and still own number 37 of the Middlebridge,
I can't see it. The Middlebridge Scimitar looked identical
to the SE6 but had color co-ordinated bumpers, PAS, and
the Ford 2.9 V6 injection engine that was found in the
Granada and Sierra's.
There should of been 500 of the GTE's made and then they
were going to make a Middlebridge GTC (the convertible
GTE), but Middlebridge went bust after only making 77.
This was down to pricing themselves out of the market
as each car was hand made.