3.5 Rover V8 Reliant Scimitar
Update: (5/05/2004) The twin SU's have gone in favour of a JWR dual port manifold and Carter 500cfm 4 barrel carb, coupled with the tubular manifolds (Sam got them made [and still has the pattern] at Global Tubes - click here) this should get the power out of the 3.5!!!
Bought in Feb 83 Sierra Tan ( turd brown ) 50,000 miles on the clock but I suspect it had been turned back. Six years later ( March 89 )and suffering from the common 6A fault - blowing head gaskets ( Reliant changed the cooling system for the 6’s ). Bought a P6 Rover for £100 and an SD1 gearbox for £75 and fitted the 3.5 engine as a trial, new lifters and a cam shaft fitted to restore the engine to normal power output. Total cost of the V8 fit about £500 but half of this goes to new exhaust manifolds even though they are mild steel, original ( upgraded ) radiator retained.
Now after a total of 21 years ( 204,000 miles ) with the car I feel that I know it quite well, ok the 3.5 litre engine is not that much more powerful than the original Essex but it is 61lbs lighter and the loss of this weight plus the fitting of adjustable ride height suspension front and rear has vastly improved the handling. Top speed I estimate to be around 140 mph, insurance – no change from normal 6A classic quotes. A BRG re-spray has also improved the looks.
Thanks to Sam I now have SS manifolds fitted and also have improved ( straight though ) silencers and a Carter competition carb which I intend to fitting together with the bigger valve’d SD1 heads when the weather gets warmer. My car is not as fast as Sam’s and it really does not come into its own until you are well over 70 mph but as a high speed cruiser it is a pleasure to drive. I don’t really want to play the boy racer with this car – if I do get the urge then I get one of our other Scimitars out - 800 kg and 160 bhp speaks for itself.
Conclusion – well worth the effort, the Rover V8 should have been fitted into the car originally, in fact I believe Reliant wanted to do so but could not obtain the engines from BL. As my engine came out of a 1967 car I have also obtained a couple of SD1 engines expecting to need one of them but the original just goes on and on. Click here to read an article Peter wrote a couple of years ago...)