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Top 10: Glassfibre Classics

There’s a lot to be said for a classic car with glassfibre bodywork, not least its ability to be left outside in all weathers without the eventual onset of rusty body panels. On the other hand it probably features a steel chassis that can still merrily corrode, possibly leading to terminal damage and MoT failure. Oh well, nothing in life is perfect...

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Reliant Scimitar GTE

The 1968 Scimitar GTE was unique for being a four-seater glassfibre ‘semi-estate’. Power came courtesy of Ford’s 2994cc V6, endowing it with strong performance and effortless cruising. Biggest change came in 1976 with the launch of the SE6 version (a squared-off, longer, wider version of the GTE), while the last big event occurred in 1982 when Ford's ‘Essex’ engine was replaced by the 2.8-litre German-built ‘Cologne’ unit.

A convertible version – the Scimitar GTC – also arrived in ’82, though just 400 were ever produced. Pick up a reasonable GTE now for £2000 or so and you’ve just discovered real value.


Richard Twomey    on 17 September 2018

Beware, glassfibre is not the only consideration. This Scimitar has a twin tube roll over bar alligned with the “B” post. This can be rotton at its base. It ends in a well that can fill with water if there are seal leaks around doors or windows. Also doors are hung on unprotected steel plate panels, that allow dropped door hinges. Chassis is strong, but there is a diagonal channel section running in front of the rear wheels. This channel fills with wet ud, and this item easily rots out.
A good one is a fabulous car, but because the glassfibre doesnot rot like so many steel cars of the period, serious weakening can be present, but not show until too late.

Fessel    on 17 September 2018

Not forgetting the appallingly heavy steering on a Scimitar...more or less ok on the open road but in town terrible.Had one a few years ago, sold it on after a few months before I developed shoulder troubles! An old Land Rover series with big tyres fitted had lighter steering.

Les Richards    on 17 September 2018

If the steering goes heavy and almost impossible to turn back to straight ahead it's likely the u/j on the steering shaft needs replacing. Due to the close proximity to the exhaust the heat dries out any grease in the joint. I eventually found this out - might have had some help from the Owners' Club, though - so that when I changed mine I slid a rubber gaiter from a steering rack completely over the u/j having first liberally coated the joint with grease. One ends fitted snugly over the shaft the other end was closed using a tywrap. Never had the problem again. Had the car (an SE5A, not the model in the picture which had power steering, I believe) for 8 years.

Edited by Les Richards on 17/09/2018 at 17:02

Les Richards    on 17 September 2018

On the Elan there are two suspension towers at the front of the chassis joined by a sealed cross-section which is also used as a reservoir for the vacuum for the pop-up headlights. This is connected by a flexible pipe joined to the manifold to create the vacuum. Petrol vapour is drawn into the chassis member via the pipe and can revert - if that's the correct term - back to a liquid and sits there. The base of the two towers are prone to rot but if a welded repair is attempted and there is petrol in the chassis member an explosion is possible. Nice one, Mr Chapman!

Les Richards    on 17 September 2018

Was the Marcos the one where the steering shaft actually routed inside the path taken by the fan belt round the pulleys?

Apart from one of those emergency fan belts that used to be available heaven knows what you did if the belt broke!

Ah, those were the days.

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