The First Turbo


Road Test 1
The Last 1600 Turbo?
Road Test 2


The first of its kind..

B23KAB, SS1 chassis number 121, was registered in March 1985 by Robin Rew, Scimitar and AC improver.  Whilst the handling of the "new" Scimitar was outstanding, he felt (as did contemporary car magazines) that more power was needed that was developed by the Ford 1600 CVH engine, supposedly lifted out of the XR3.  Robin approached Turbo Techincs of Northampton to use their expertise learnt through their Fiesta XR2 and Escort XR3conversions on the new sportscar.

In May the same year, B23KAB emerged from Robins workshops in Silverstone, its blueprinted engine wearing a new Garrett T3 turbocharger, breathing through a modified carburettor and cooled with a nose-mounted intercooler.  This transformation made good the performance figures, quoted as follows from MotorSport magazine:


Power at 140bhp (up from a quoted 96bhp)


Top Speed in excess of 120mph


0-60 timed at "below 8 seconds", as opposed to the quoted 8.6s

Alas, I have to disagree with these figures, as in its still standard (as modified) state, I have managed (on private ground, of course) a top speed of 126mph and 0-60 in 6.87s

Robin intended this to be his show car for his turbo conversions, supplementing that he already did for the GTE's (the SS1 conversion was now offered as a dealer-fit option through Will Sparrow of Alcester, as well as an aftermarket fit by Robin himself), and hence its first public outing was at the RSSOC Sabre Day, held at the premises of the late Don Pither in September 1985.  Whilst there, the car made another first; being entered for the Gymkhana meant that this was also the first Scimitar SS1 to compete in a motorsport event as the RSSOC was (and still is) an MSA affiliated club.

Robin kept the car for about 5 years in all, until it passed through a few more hands before I chanced upon it as a 22nd birthday present for myself, back in 1995.  At the time I was house hunting with my girlfriend of the time, but the SS1 won after a brief test drive; a mortgage was put on hold...

The first problem I encountered was with the TT turbo unit itself, in that the exhaust elbow had decided that splitting into 3 pieces was much more fun that staying in one.  At the time, Turbo Technics were not too helpful in trying to source a replacement as it turns out the 1600 turbo kit was commissioned by Robin, not serviced by TT themselves, so I took to "parts bin robbing"; a practice most manufacturers of sports cars do to this day.  One Escort RS Turbo exhaust elbow and a modified exhaust later, one down and more to go...

Next?  The horror that awaits any early (non-galvanized chassis owner) - rotten sills.  The SS1 chassis is very similar to that of a Lotus Elan; i.e. X-shaped, but with pressed steel sills added in for strength.  Alas, the rot didn't stop there.

One strip down later, the rolling chassis was trailered to Andy Vine in Bedford who not only fitted new sills (supplied by Queensbury Road Garage), but also:


Re jigged the chassis square


Replaced both front outriggers


Repaired both A and B posts


Made 4 new jacking points

With that little lot completed, I had no intentions of repeating it again.  Out came a concoction of anti-rust fluids including engine oil, bitumen paint and waxoyl to ensure it never happened again!

With it now in a "fit" state, the improvements began...

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This site was last updated Sunday, 31 August 2008 14:21:59 +0100 Reliant Sabre Scimitar SST SS1 1300 1400 1600 1800Ti Turbo injection intercooler RSSOC