Getting the car back on the road

On a normal old car website, this would be where the author tells you the problems he encountered during restoration and how he got around them. For me, however, the only problem is going to be paying the bill. Here's what Danny found when he took the SST apart:

  1. No compression in the middle cylinders. The engine needs a rebuild.

  2. Turbo knackered.

  3. Steering rack is the worst he's ever seen, and positively dangerous. Either the car had a hell of a lot of abuse since the last MOT or that MOT was ...

  4. Springs, shocks and bushes in the suspension and anti-roll bar need replacing.

  5. Wheel bearings, brake pads and pipes need replacing.

  6. Wheels need refinishing and new tyres.

  7. New hood needed.

Apart from the first in the list, most of the work required is pretty much as expected. That first one in the list is quite a one, though, isn't it? Did the garage know this when they sold it to me? Hmmm. Have they got lawyers? Probably. Can you sue someone for slander based on a few comments on a website? Don't know. Do I want to find out? No thanks. Say no more then.

The bad news about the engine is followed by some good news. Years ago, when Reliant were going bust, the Scimitar garage Graham Walker Ltd bought a serious load of bits in the fire sale, including a quantity of new and crated engines from Nissan. The turbos were long gone, but Danny found out that they still had three of these engines left. And at an amazing price - £600 + VAT. Good time to buy one then. Sold to the man with the plastic shed. A new / old engine, still in its crate. Amazing.

The turbo brings up a new dilemma: rebuilt standard one for £300 or hybrid one with variable boost for £500? Was that really a dilemma? Er, no, but I'd like the new turbo set to standard boost at first so I don't chuck the car into the first scenery I see. This will be the first turbocharged car I've ever owned, so I'm not really sure what to expect. When I was a kid my Dad had a supercharged Scimitar SE5a and I'll never forget the sound that car made when the supercharger kicked in. I doubt if a turbo will be that exciting, but we'll see.

[ I wonder if Dad's old Scimitar SE5a still exists?

Dads SE5A

It was brown with tan leather seats. Came from the Chequered Flag garage in London, and may have been their garage hack. It had hump in the bonnet for the supercharger and leaked oil just about everywhere it's possible for an engine to leak oil. Dad, my brother and I loved it (above 3500 RPM anyway). I don't think Mum was so keen as it was unreliable and totally impractical as a family car. Funny, though, how both my brother and I have bought so many Scimitars ourselves. Is there a connection? Nah.

Dads Lancia

In a stunning move, in no way an indication of the sort of things his sons would later do, my Dad then swapped it with the garage for a Lancia Beta saloon. A wonderful car - fast, comfortable and reliable - which rusted to bits within a few months. ]

Whilst Danny is waiting for the bits to arrive for the rebuild, the SST is moved outside during the day to free some space. Which is where a truck from the firm opposite drives into it and pushes it back through the wooden doors on Danny's unit. The damage isn't too serious - the back bumper is a separate unit and is cracked, and the light unit on that side needs replacing - but with insurance companies involved it could take some time to get sorted. Not good, but these things happen.

SST bumper damage

More fun when he first tries the new engine. It gets very warm, then too warm, then deposits oil and water all over the floor of the unit. Though the engine is 'new' it's really quite old, and before it was shipped over 10 or 15 years ago the cooling system was tested. Using water, which has had the intervening years to do what it does best when in contact with metal (i.e. make rust). There's no serious damage done, but a lot of clearing up and flushing the cooling system. And the radiator seems to be knackered as well, which may well have been the cause of the original engine failing at quite an early age (odometer reads about 74,000).

SST new engine

Further problems for Danny as he tries to fathom out the other bits of the engine that were altered by Reliant before they used it, such as the pulleys and temperature sender. I guess this is to be expected, but a bit more assistance from Graham Walker Ltd would have been nice since they supplied it. And how about some compensation for that rusted-solid water pump on the 'new' engine? What's that? The sound of silence? Hmmm. You're not helping, you know.

Finally the paint is done and its ready for collection.

The final bill

What's it all cost me? £7000, give or take. Once I get all the receipts back I'll itemise where it went.

Was it worth it? Well, see the next page to find out what it's like on the road.

SST - Enjoying