Reliant Scimitar SS1


In 1978, Reliant looked for a new design as they wanted a smaller 2 seater sports car.  At the time a designer called Tony Stevens had made an open top 2 seater based on the Reliant Kitten chassis.  The car was called the Cipher.  Ritchie Spencer of Reliant decided not to go with the Cipher, but use a design styled by Michelotti.  Sadly Michelotti later died before the full finished details were produced and the design went ahead regardless.  

Above: sketch by Giovani Michelotti

The design was called the SS1 (small sports 1).  Reliant decided to use pressed plastic panels instead of making the moulds of glass fibre which could be time consuming.  Using a backbone chassis, the pressed panels could be easily bolted directly onto the chassis.  The majority of the panels were made by Dunlop, who used reinforced injection moulded plastic.  Reliant were still using Ford parts and used the 1.3 litre CVH engine in the first SS1's.

Above:  SS1 with no clothes on


Reliant launched the 1300cc SS1 at the NEC's 1984 Motor show.  Reactions to the car varied as there were numerous panel joints which looked like a Lego creation, but Reliant truly believed that the SS1 was an affordable open top sports car for the younger generation.  The 1300cc engine was too slow, so they later sold 1400cc and 1600cc versions of the SS1.  

Even though these engines greatly improved the cars and the press enjoyed taking them out for numerous road tests, the looks of the car didn't change, which sadly put people off from even trying the car first (never judge a book by its cover!)