600cc. 28bhp

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Engine Pondering….

With the Rebel undergoing prep for painting we’ve started to think about building up a decent engine. This is no small task, During the last 8 months numerous engines (at least 12) and countless parts have been acquired with the intention of building a “tuned” 750cc motor, Unfortunately other than spending a impressive amount of cash we hadn’t actually made any progress on this front until recently…

The following photos show some of the parts we’ve been procrastinating over. The first set of photos show a Brand New 750cc engine block with balanced crank and flywheel, polished con-rods and strapped center main bearing. Its in its original packing case destined for Export and has no serial number.

These next three show a ex 750 Formula Race engine. Fitted with a Ford Kent oil-pump on a custom cast Ali timing cover driven off the front of the camshaft, Polished rods, strapped center main, lightened rockers, high lift cam and non vacuum distributor.

We bought this Early 600cc engine last year, Modified for 750 formula use it came with the following – All 3 main bearings strapped, High lift cam, fully lightened and polished crank and rods, hepolite pistons, ported head and lightened rockers and a full flow oilfilter conversion instead of the original bypass arrangement. The intention had been to use this engine but once we stripped it down it needed a fair amount of work, The block has cracked across where the center head stud thread is located (a common problem with reliant’s), the crank was badly scored and the liners were badly pitted on the outside where they’re exposed to the water-jacket.

Rather than use one of those engines I’ve decided to spend even more money on modifying the original 600cc engine that came with the car (the only reason i can come up with to justify this is that it has the right serial number on the side) The block has now been modified to take 750/850 liners and the current plan is to use a 750cc crankshaft rather than a longer throw 850 one to reduce piston speed and make it a bit more responsive on the rev front. The next stage will be to get the center head stud Tig welded up, steam clean the block and strap the center main bearing and modify the oil system to give better flow to the main bearings.

In the next post I’ll share some of the options for ancillaries, heads, cranks, valve-train etc!.

Anyone want to buy some race engines?  :D


Mostly Engine Work


We decided to go for one of the 600cc engines we sourced from Ian. This had the advantage of not being seized… but not much else. There was some scoring to one of the liners but it was the best 600 we had and was probably good enough to give us a feel for the rebel as it would have driven when it left the factory…. Our first attempt to run the best of our engines resulted in a blowing headgasket so we sent the head off for a skim. This head is the one which came with the rebel, Rebel heads had extra porting done to the inlets and exhausts compared to the standard regal item, they were also higher compression. Ours was even higher than standard once skimmed!

Skimmed Head:

Block awaiting a skimmed head (pedantic Relaint purists will be pleased to know this is a 598cc engine! as per original spec)

Now with added gasket!

Head goes on:

With the head fitted we decided to inspect the bottom end and discovered a holed sump!

Fortunately the bottom end looked pretty good.

I bought a set of Rostyle Wheels off an MG available locally. The price of £15 for 4 reasonable tyres and wheels seemed to good to pass up. They are not quite the same as having the old wheels but the budget was a bit tight to go splashing out on an all new set of tyres.

New brake shoes have been fitted all round as well as new brake pipes, This meant the brakes could now be bled!

Finally a photo of the engine now back in place! its so light it can be comfortably lifted in and out of position with 2 people.

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,

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.

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.