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Rebel Van – Evaluation

With all the parts unloaded we started working out what we had and what parts were needed,
The clutch master cylinder was missing, Radiator was holed (and a later type), Handbrake cable had been cut, Front brake shoes were missing, Taillight and indicator bodies were rusted beyond repair.

We then took the wheels off and the car up on axle stands for a decent look at the chassis. The main rails appear to be in good condition, but the outriggers are a real weak point on the Rebel and could do with replacing.

Drivers side Front, Notice the bolts have been removed on the towers, it looked like someone had prepped the car to remove the body.

Passenger side front


Chassis general view

Gearbox Mount area,


Mount for Brake master cylinder

Drivers side rear,

Propshaft, axle and diff.

Seatbelt mount point

Petrol tank, This has been drained and appears not to leak.

It Lives: Moving under its own power


This post documents the work getting the rebel to move under its own power after 30 years off the road….

New exhaust system being fitted:

The old exhaust was mostly swept off the garage floor the a section of pipe just below them manifold has been replaced with flexi pipe bought form a local exhausts place. Its the first time we’d used it and It will be interesting to see how well it lasts.

We picked up an new silencer which is attached to the original tailpipe section.

It would have been nice to have fitted a replacement but the pipe bend over the axle is going to take some fabrication and there is techincally not much wrong with the old pipe!

This photo shows the new seatbelt support straps, now painted and fitted, Astute observers will also notice we now have a handbrake cable fitted.

We have also refitted the windows and 2 regal doors which i picked up for £10 the channel section on the old doors requires extensive repair and will be revisited later. The new doors were spectacularly brown, I ran out of Coarse Da sander pads which accounts for the slightly odd look! Regal doors are essentially the same the main difference is in the internal moulding which is different as the rebel has a nicer door card.

Given the doors are 8 years newer than the car they required quite a bit of shimming to get them to sit right, presumably slight differences in the mouldings at Reliant.

Door closeup, The handle and latches have also been refitted and the door can only be locked on the latch from the inside, oddly the drivers door appears to have always been unable to be locked from inside the car, presumably to stop you locking your keys in!

Drivers side door,

An inside view,

Not really sure why I took this picture tbh,

Before fitting the windows the internal moulding needed bonding back in, A scimitar Rear view mirror has been fitted until we can get a more appropriate one (the old one was in poor condition and did not survive removal.)

This final photo shows damage to the boot where the latch should mount we need to bind in new captive nuts to the holes:

The new bonnet will to be modified as its slightly different to the one that came with the car:

The new bonnet is designed to have external hinges mounted where as ours has internal hinges:

New bonnet:

The shortlist for an Mot is now:

Sort out a cooling System,
Fit the fuel tank,
Fiberglass work to the bonnet and boot to allow them to be fitted,
We need to buy a battery and do some other small finishing off jobs.

Ps For anyone who’s interested there are a couple of videos of the car on youtube showing a pre exhaust car running and moving under its own power.

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With a battery tray and a battery borrowed from the Scimitar we spent some time refitting the electronics. Surprisingly most items came to life without too much trouble. The wiper unit worked and parked nicely, most of the old bulbs were all fine once the connections were cleaned up and even the lucas flasher unit worked!

Tail lights and indicators,

Original headlight units working,

More Bodywork Steel: Seatbelts, A-pillar


These photos show the glassing in of the new steel stiffeners into the body and the work to fit modern seatbelts.

Steelwork in channel above side window and over the rear window,

A pillar close up, the steelwork ends in the front wing in the same place as reliant had theirs

B pillar view

Steel support ending in boot,

Steelwork overview,

We then folded up some steel bar to make mounting points for the seatbelts this photo shows a passenger test bracket fitted,

Seatbelt stalks test fitted,

Seatbelt overview,

Dave made up a new battery tray as the old one had mostly dissolved Its slightly larger to accommodate a scimitar sized battery,

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.