BUYING A GTE / GTC / MIDDLEBRIDGE

First of all, buy the Club's "Buying Secondhand" guide and read it carefully. It will cost you 4.50 pounds and will be money well spent. If you want to buy a Scimitar, you'll be ready then! Buy the best you can afford. There are quite a few cars out there in good condition.

Secondly, you should always make a thorough check of the car you are buying, just as you would when buying any (older) car. The youngest GTE/GTC is 25 years old, the oldest are over 40!

POINTS OF ATTENTION:

Chassis
Suspension
Engine
Transmission
Electrical
Exterior
Interior

CHASSIS:

The Chassis Is Really Strong, But:
both the SE5 and SE6 can rust badly after long periods of inattention or neglect. Galvanised chassis: Only the last few GTC and se6b's have a galvanised chassis. In numbers: the last 70-80 cars of each model, so the majority (360 cars of each model) do NOT have one. Roughly, any car from late 1983 on should have a galvanised chassis. A galvanised chassis should be better protected against rust, so some rust can appear after 25 years!

Middlebridges all have a galvanised chassis. These seem pretty OK. But some standard steel was used to be bolted on the chassis, like seatbelt anchors, or spare wheel tray. These will rust at double rate! MB spare wheel trays are not available.

Chassis Front End:

Rust can occur around the radiator and towards the front end. Also the front suspension mounting brackets can crack. Check under the car and under the spare wheel. Don't forget the bolted on spare wheel tray and bumper mountings.

Central Chassis:

Front chassis outriggers may collect mud and debris. Check under the car and in the wheel arches. But worse is rust between the upper chassis and the body. Not visible with the body on. Usually when outriggers are rusting, you'll notice.

The Centre Outrigger:

Check under the car, inspection of the upper side is almost impossible with the body on the chassis. Special attention needed at the 'B' pillar, where the roll bar is fitted to the chassis. This is a rust prone spot. All outer seat belts mounting points are on the roll bar, so if the roll bar is no longer attached to the chassis, seat belts are not able to absorb impact energy in an accident.

Rear End:

Rear Suspension mounts are important as they hold the rear suspension on to the body. They should be rust free. Like the front outriggers, rear outriggers also collect mud so check both under the car and in the wheel arches (wheels preferably removed). The chassis rear end rust is hard to detect with the body on, so check around the fuel tank.

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SUSPENSION

Rear Suspension:

Not likely to cause problems, other than sagging springs, failed shock absorbers and worn bushes. There is a grease nipple to be attended to regularly!

Front Suspension:

Based on the Triumph TR series. In fact, early SE5 (and only these!) have the same suspension. Double wishbone mounted in rubber. These rubbers wear. They need to be replaced on a regular basis. The trunnion and the trunnion bolt need regular greasing. When neglected the bold will weld itself into the trunnion and destroy both. There are four points (on both sides!) that need regular greasing: the trunnion (lower nipple); the trunnion bolt; ball joint (upper nipple); and the wheel bearing. Check in the wheel arches, best with wheel removed. If no signs of grease are visible, expect an overhaul. The front springs can also sag. The distance between the wheel arch and the ground should be 25" to 27"/ 63,5 cm to 68,5 cm. Check the tyres, they should wear equal and not on the inside. Also check the rear ones please, to exclude front-back swap. Complete overhaul is not very expensive, and are readily available through the Club's Trading Partners in the UK and Europe.

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ENGINE:

Ford Essex 3 Litre V6.

If well maintained good for > 200.000 km (SE4/5/5a/6/6a). Oil pressure should at least 40 lb psi, 50 is better (> 2000 rpm) but it should never exceed 75 lb psi. At idling speed (engine hot) pressure should read about 25 lb psi. Two weak spots after high mileage: Worn oil pump drive shaft and worn cam timing gear. Standard engine in the se5 (early 'Zodiac' version), se5a, se6/6a.

Ford Cologne 2.8 V6.

If well maintained also good for > 200.000 km (SE6b/8). Oil pressure should at least 25lb psi (> 2000 rpm) but it should never exceed 75 lb psi. At idling speed (engine hot) pressure should read about 10 lb psi.

Scimitars used the carburated version of the Cologne. Standard was a Pierburg Solex carburettor. This is a hard to keep in tune carburettor, with electric components. Lots of owners had it retrofitted with a Weber 38 DGAS (or DGMS for manual choke), the same carburettor as on the se6a. Standard engine in the se6b and GTC.

Ford Cologne 2.9 V6.

The ultimate version of the original Cologne in Europe. Fully EFI controlled injection. This is a more modern engine, an improved 2.8. Standard engine for the Middlebridge.

3 Litres may last longer than 2.8's, but both last well. Always look for oil and other leaks. A good engine doesn't have to leak. Blue smoke from the exhausts tell that the engine needs overhaul (worn bore). Check the level of oil and coolant. If the owner starts the car and revs it up (when cold), keep away from it. High revving kills both types of engines.

The engine tends to overheat in factory original SE6/6a. Not any of the other versions! Several mods are available, so no Scimitar has to overheat. On cars used for towing extra cooling capacity is a must. Not just for coolant, but gearbox (automatics!) or engine oil cooling too.

The engine will be damaged after serious overheating. Check for signs of coolant leaks and boiled over coolant. If an engine doesn't warm up or warms up very slowly, check if the thermostat is fitted. If no thermostat is fitted, the car is likely to be maintained by someone without the right qualifications. The electric cooling fan should work less than 1 minute and then stop. Keep away from cars with cooling fans that don't work. Remember that overheating can cause warped or cracked cylinder heads, expensive to repair.

Again - A Scimitar can keep its cool! Maintenance and a few mods are the keywords. Any of the club traders can provide you with all the info and parts needed.

On early Scimitars (SE5 models) the fuel inlet pipe to the carburettor can get loose and cause a fire hazard, but it can be easily fixed.

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TRANSMISSION:

Many different types of transmissions have been used throughout the Scimitars life.

Manual; With Or Without Overdrive.

Two types of overdrives are used and at least four types of gearboxes are used. SE6/6a have all the same type gearbox and overdrive. The gearboxes are all Ford products. Always be sure the overdrive works properly. It should engage and disengage without trouble. Reversing with an engaged overdrive kills the OD unit.

Automatics:

Two types: Borg Warner Type 35 and Ford C3 (some cars could be equipped with a Ford C4). The C3 is most common and better. All gears should engage easily and kickdown should work. Some cars will have the mod to a A4LD box. Standard item on a Middlebrigde auto.

Check for oil leaks. No gearbox or overdrive should leak, but automatics have a habit of leaking severely without other problems. Always be alert to freshly cleaned gearboxes.

Clutch:

No specific problems. Almost all Scimitars have a hydraulic operated clutch. Just a few se5a's may have a cable operated clutch (combined with a specific Ford 4 sp. non OD box). Do mind Reliant used a different bearing on the clutch release than Ford. Check for signs of wear, like rattles and slip. On manual se6b and GTC - standard hydraulic line is a plastic tube. It runs behind the engine from the RH side (on RHD cars) to the LH side. This is heat resistant, but not absolute. A braided hose is much better.

Propshafts And Backaxles:

These items only need regular maintenance for a trouble free life. The backaxle has a small air hole on the right hand back side. This must be open, it is the only way for moisture to get out. Check behind/under the car. The differential oil should have been changed on a regular basis. It is common to get a lot of noise (heavy clonking) from the propshaft/backaxle. This is annoying but rather harmless. If the noise gets louder with the speed the differential could be worn.

Two models used on the Reliants: Salisbury 7HA on the SE5 (and coupe too) and all later models use the 4HA. Several ratios used on the se5a. All se6/a use the same ratio. And all se6b/GTC too, though it is different from the se6a.

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THE ELECTRICAL INSTALLATION

First: The main supplier of electrical stuff is/was Lucas. One thing about most Lucas products is: THEY WILL FAIL. My car is a lot more reliable since I changed Lucas products for Bosch/Hella products. What I want to say is, Factory specifications are not sacred, reliability is.

Second: The design of the electrical circuitry is not perfect. Mods made to the car usually make it better.

Beware of wiring looms with cracked coatings. It can cause massive short circuits and fire! Renewal is a rather difficult and time-consuming job.

The earthing can be a problem. Check if everything works properly.

Check, if possible, for corroded contacts. These create high resistance, causing more heat than the wires can handle. They could melt with a risk of short circuits or worse. Check if everything works properly.

Never rule out a car when it has sensible, professional looking and documented mods on the electrics. Beware of dodgy repairs and mods.

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EXTERIOR

The Coachwork:

Beware of cracks and crazing. A complete professional respray will cost at least the price of a small second-hand car! Check the body for all irregularities. Recent resprays can cover horror tracks. To be optimistic, everything on a bad coachwork can be repaired easily, it just takes (a lot of) time and money. Middlebrigdes suffer from top coat problems. It can peel off very easy suddenly from 10 years on. It seems the top coat and the underlaying colour coat do not mix. Only a repray can fix this problem.

SE5 models have metal reinforcements in the bodyshell. It is possible that the metal rusts and cracks the body locally. Difficult job!

Buying an (accident) damaged car? Check the condition of the metal parts of the bumpers. These are rare parts and hard to find.

Wheels:

Standard size is 14". Wolfrace wheels were a factory option on the SE6a/6b/8 models They were expensive then and still are. Earlier cars can have Dunlop wheels (SE5/5a/6/6a). These Dunlop wheels are composites, with alloy centres. The metals used can corrode each other and are hard to restore. An early option are the "Princess Anne" alloys. These are optionals for the se5 and se5a. All these wheels are no longer available new. The 15" Oz wheels as used on the Middlebridge are still available, as the dreaded centre caps. These are prone to 'disappear', they drop of, when cracked and those crack easily.

All wheels are interchangeable, from the earliest Scimitar to the MB.

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INTERIOR:

The seats in the SE5 models can break. The leather seats of later cars can be bad.

SE5a interior panels are made of ABS, a plastic that degrades under the influence of sunlight. The panels can be cracked severely, but polyester replacements are available. SE6 panels are better but they won't last forever.

Check if dials and switches are tightly fixed, as sometimes the panels are so bad they will fall out!

Check all interior trim, some parts are hard to find. Bad on a GTE, a nightmare on a GTC as some parts are GTC only.

Check for water leaks. Any window can and will leak. Fixing is possible: new rubbers and/or a lot of window sealant.

Carpets sometimes rot away, growing mushrooms in a Scimitar is always a possibility! Carpets get soaked due to the water leaks described above.

Tailgate hinges can rust and stop working.

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That's it. Still convinced you want a Scimitar GTE? Why not, the list above is a lot smaller than many other cars. If the car you are interested in is (proven) well maintained, you can delete all neglect-items and have a very short list.

ERIK HOFMAN