SS1 Overview


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Stripping an SS1


 First, a quick mechanical description of the SS1...

The car is a 2 seater convertible, built as a separate chassis with unstressed glassfibre and rubber panels bolted to an additional skeleton.  The main chassis comprises of a central X-shaped backbone, and was made under license by Thyssen in Germany (Reliant owned the majority shareholding in the tooling).  Front suspension is a Vauxhall Chevette derived double wishbone setup with coil springs and inboard inclined dampers, whilst the rear is independent trailing arms and coil-over shock absorber units.  Anti-roll bars are fitted both front and rear.  Front brakes are 4-pot twin circuit discs at the front and drums at the rear.

This base rolling chassis (as shown above) was the basis of all the SS-series (SS1, SST, Sabre and Scimitar Sabre) from start to finish.

Motive power was from a number of sources; chronologically:

Ford CVH 1300cc (SS1)

Ford CVH 1600cc (SS1)

Nissan CA18ET 1800cc Turbo (Scimitar 1800Ti in both SS1 and SST body styles, plus Sabre and some Scimitar Sabres)

Ford CVH 1400cc (replaced the 1300cc unit when Ford changed from MK3 to Mk4 Escort, and stopped making the 1300cc CVH.  SS1, SST, Sabre)

Rover 14K4 1400cc 16v K series (Scimitar Sabre only)

A Rover 2.0 T-series (not Turbo..) was launched with the 1.4K Scimitar Sabre; only one car appears to have been fitted with this engine, but never run.  It was retrofitted with a 1.4K engine before being registered.

All except the Nissan engined cars used Ford Type 9 gearboxes (either 4 or 5 speed).  Nissans own 5 speed gearbox was used on the 1800Ti.  Rear differential unit was a 3.92:1 unit from the Ford Sierra.

Performance ranged from mediocre (1.3/1.4) through adequate (1.6) to mindblowing (1.4K, 1800Ti) in a straight line, yet all variants possess excellent handling with comfort.  At its launch, the 1800Ti was the quickest in-gear accelerating mass production car (30-70 in 5th gear)


(SS1 1800Ti interior shown)

The interior was a mixture of Reliants own dashboard mouldings allied to Triumph TR7-based seats, a Ford Fiesta based set of instruments (1800Ti/later cars used an Austin-Rover based unit) and Austin-Rover switchgear.


This is the perfect case of "if you don't succeed, try, try and try again".  I'm not referring to the terrrible panel fit of the SS1 (gaps below 10mm are good..), but rather to the body style...

(1800Ti - never actually called an SS1)

SST 1800Ti (later with colour coded bumpers)

Sabre 1800Ti Mk1

The SS1 (Small Sports One, before you ask) sadly wasn't the prettiest car on earth - its wedge styling was on its way out at its launch and panel gaps could be measured in inches, not mm.  On the upside, it was one of only a few genuine convertible sports cars on sale at the time and a near loner in its price range.  The trouble was actually getting someone into one and onto the open road - at which point perceptions change.  The change to the SST changed the body to a two piece (plus body tub) fibreglass construction; the Sabre and Scimitar Sabre were basically a re-bumpered and body-kitted version of the SST.



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This site was last updated 08/12/07

Reliant Sabre Scimitar SST SS1 1300 1400 1600 1800Ti Turbo injection intercooler RSSOC