1966 Reliant Rebel Saloon

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The Red Rebel


I was looking through Ebay and came across a listing a fantastically inaccurate and misspelled listing for a Reliant Rebel Saloon ( http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=270767243196&ssPageName=ADME:X:RTQ:GB:1123#ht_728wt_702 ). I mentioned it to Dave who fancied having it as a first car, so a plan was hatched to buy it and put it back on the road on a shoe string budget…

We went and had a look and decided that it was fairly complete the only bits missing were the rear bench seat, drivers door card and front bumper. Its had 2 owners and and its even still got the factory fitted dunlop tyres!

As a 1966 car its one of the earliest rebels to have survived and came fitted with a 600cc engine from factory.

The Car:

The following morning I won the auction but paid £100 more than I wanted to. We needed a quick pickup to tie in with other time commitments so decided to pick the car up that afternoon.

But first the Scimitar needed a towbar making up and fitting:

We didn’t have any way to check the the wiring so chanced that it would be ok when we got to the hire place. Fortunately it all worked ok.

At this point I should probably mention I’d never towed any kind of trailer before so the 270 mile round trip with was starting to look like a bit of a challenge. As it turned out it was fairly stressless though if doing it again I’d definitely fit a passenger side door mirror to improve visibility on the motorway.


Getting fuel:


An initial look at the  suggested it might go again, its full of reasonable looking oil as is the gearbox. plugs are tight but do move the valves are all free. Hopefully with the starter off it should free up.

Not sure about an engine change yet given the chance it may be interesting to get an mot with the current engine just to experience the full misery of 28 bhp.

Stripping Down


We got straight to work stripping the rebel down to the chassis, for evaluation and to work out what we’d let ourselves in for.

There were a few holes in the chassis where the battery has leaked and dissolved the underseal and corroded the steel. Its generally in good condition and was actually a bit better than we hoped.

The fiberglass also needs attention in places with work needed to replace seat supports, cracks around mounting holes, and some areas around the door catches.


When the head was stripped off the engine it was found that the headgasket has corroded and let water into number two cylinder seizing the piston. Even  without removing the piston it was clear the bore was badly pitted.

The initial plan was to just changing the Liner and Piston but we couldnt rule out needing an engine swap if parts prove too hard to find.

Photo of chassis cleanup to follow.

Chassis cleanup, Bodywork Evaluation


Chassis Stripped down ready for wire brushing:

Halfway through my friend Marlon (baldrickthecunning) dropped round and gave us a hand removing dials and labeling the loom. Cheers! :cool:

Body has been DA’d back some more though there is still quite a bit more to do.

With much of the interior removed it became obvious that there wasn’t much reinforcement inside the rebel. We are more used to the Scimitar which has a significant amount extra steel support so this came as a bit of a surprise!

Essentially on the Rebel the A posts and along the top of the windscreen are the only reinforced sections, Offering roll protection in the same way as a convertible. On a Scimitar the bodywork has Steel A post stiffeners, Sill stiffeners, roof supports and a tubular steel rollbar going down through the B  and anchoring to the chassis.

C Pillar:

B Pillar:

We are currently considering how best to add in some safety features that are present in later Reliants.

Finally a last picture of the chassis cleaning in progress:

Engine and bodywork


Engine was finally unsiezed but it was in need of valves, replacement pistons and liners


Checking the hubs and brakes:

Chassis has had a coat of paint on all the sections that don’t need repairs. I’ll add a better picture later

Body up for the fibreglass work to begin:

Attachement for original lapbelts:

Other seatbelt mount, this is where we intend to tie the new roll bar to the chassis

Bits to fix:

Seat supports to be replaced

Rear view:

At some point in the past a previous owner had added in 3 point seatbelts by glassing some thin steel into the wheel arches:

Crack in the skirt at the front shows where the car had a knock in the past.

Gave the engine bay a bit of a clean up,

Chassis overview, Starting Grp Repairs


These photos show a better view of the chassis, the start of the fibreglass repairs and removal of the headlining to evaluate fitting a nicely concealed rollbar and roof reinforcement.