A very brief history of the Middlebridge GTE

During November 1986, amid plenty of speculation and with 30 + orders still on their books, Reliant ceased production of the Scimitar GTE and GTC models in order to concentrate their efforts on the small two seater sports car market. Two Nottingham Businessmen, namely John McCauley and Peter Boam were sure there was still life in the unique Scimitar GTE design and were very keen on the idea of hand building and marketing an upgraded and higher spec GTE. They approached Reliant in early June 1987 to buy the manufacturing and tooling rights to the GTE and GTC. They negotiated a deal where their company BM Industries would build small numbers of Scimitars in a new factory in Nottingham.

Peter Boam and John McCauley (both ex Lucas men) had developed a very close relationship with Reliant, right down to Reliant training their new staff in the Tamworth Factory, their initial intention was to produce a car with all the optional extras fitted as standard, then at a future date and following talks with Reliant, their dealers and the RSSOC (Reliant Scimitar Sabre Owners Club), improve the cars specification and update its presentation targeting a more up market sector. However, Peter & John needed to find investors in order to purchase the rights and fund the project, they needed £400,000 to purchase the rights and a further 1.5 million was the minimum estimated figure required to get up and running.

Very soon after this Peter Boam & John McCauley met with a Japanese Business Man named Kohji Nakauchi "a huge classic car enthusiast and collector" and the owner of the Middlebridge group of companies. They bought the GTE / GTC manufacturing and tooling rights from Reliant for £400,000 and in late June 1987 Middlebridge Scimitar was formed. A further £2 Million was also invested into the project and the initial purchase from Reliant was completed in 24 hours!!

Mr Nakauchi and Dennis Nursey his associate had already made plans to build aluminium bodied two seater combining British craftsmanship, which was in high demand in Japan, with Japanese reliability. (Mechanicals.) They were aiming to create an instant classic look and the car was described as an affordable Ferrari 250 GTO. The Scimitar deal was seen as a quick way into car production "a step on the ladder" and the £400,000 was small price to pay compared to designing and building a car from scratch.

Mr Nakauchi, a self confessed "Anglophile", immediately appointed his old friend "Dennis Nursey" as Chief Executive to run the company with John McCauley, Peter Boam and Stuart Bird. It was decided that they would go ahead and hand build a much improved and more refined car "The Middlebridge Scimitar" at a rate of three to four cars per week and target the executive market.

Picture 1 (Black & White) Kohji Nakauchi shows off his new acquisition Middlebridge Scimitar Ltd, picture 2 shows Kohji and Dennis Nursey 30 years later at the NEC Classic car show 2019. George Sampford is on stand duty at the rear of the picture.

Several people were brought in from Aston Martin to work on the new project and Chief Middlebridge Engineer Kevin Gladwin was recruited to progress the new car through its Type Approval stages which involved many trips to Mira before the new car received its full British Type Approval from the D.O.T. (Department of Transport.) Getting a car through Type Approval is a very difficult and expensive business, particularly when modifying a car that has already obtained the necessary approval certificate. Middlebridge did make modifications to the car chassis, rear lights, front lights, interior gauges, 15" Alloy wheels and Speedo calibration, "I for one" wonder how they passed the car on the Speedo calibration front.

Middlebridge Engineering specialised in high Class Classic car Restorations for the Japanese market since December 1986, especially vintage Astons. "How cool is that Exporting cars to Japan." ;o) They were duly called upon to help and advise on the 450 + modifications for the new car.

Middlebridge Scimitar obtained a late SE6B Scimitar from Reliant and upon arrival, at Lilac Grove the car was completely stripped out down to the chassis and re-assembled from scratch by two men, Stuart Bird and Peter Bloom incorporating the 450 + modifications / upgrades that Middlebridge had intended for the new car. "The Middlebridge Pre Production Prototype was born" During development this car was used for tests on drive train noise, static noise, radio noise it was also fitted with various sensors and the retrieved data was used for type approval purposes, When Reliant testers drove the car they were very surprised at the lack of rattles, draughts, water leaks, handling, interior noise and speed of the new car.