A very brief history of the Middlebridge GTE

There was actually two Middlebridge Prototype Cars, one a Manual (Dr Dan Mitchell's) and the other an Auto (A90 YOM). This car had the 2.9 EFI engine and 4 Speed auto box + many other mods, it can be seen below parked In Lilac Grove just after the floor was painted, rumour has it that this car was badly damaged on road test but this has NOT as yet been varified.

Middlebridge received a lot of advice and technical help from Gerry Wilmot (Reliant) who made many trips up to Lilac Grove in his GTC (The white car seen on the front of many Reliant colour brochures). HRH the Princess Royal "Officially" opened the Lilac Grove works in October 1988. HRH enquired about the new Middlebridge Scimitar as soon as she heard of the new venture and was already using one on loan for two weeks prior to ordering her first Middlebridge Scimitar, when she purchased her Middlebridge (number five) it was her ninth Scimitar.

The Pre production Prototype mentioned above is owned by Dr Dan Mitchell and it is still going strong, looks great and is in near original condition. HRH Princess Anne used this car for a short time then drove the Production Prototype chassis number 1 for several weeks while waiting for her own car (No 5) to be completed, HRH still owns this car today. Dan's car can also be seen on many of the Middlebridge Sales Brochures (see downloads area) as it was driven to the South of France for sales photography purposes, Dan bought the car new from Middlebridge and has owned it ever since. It is also featured in Don Pithers books, The Scimitar and its forebears and Reliant Sports Cars.

The Glass fibre Shells and Chassis were still to be built in Tamworth by Reliant and transported to Lilac Grove as 'Green Bodies' where they would spend at least a week outside curing, Panel thickness varied from 2-3mm up to a whacking and impressive 15mm (The thickness was location/function dependant for example the Pedal Box was spec'ed to be 13-15mm, Time was spent matching the most suitable Shells to Chassis, (Note This is why Middlebridge Cars have a VIN No = chassis No and a separate SNM No =Body No that are different numbers) the shells were then left to cure and the chassis 'Hot Dipped Galvanised' once the shells were ready for preparation 100 man hours were then spent preparing one for paint and then yet another 200 man hours would be spent on the build of every car

Middlebridge cars were hand made in a small factory 'Lilac Grove' in Beeston, Nottingham and buyers had a vast choice on the specification. On the paint front you could have Standard, Metallic, Pearlescent or two tone colour schemes, interior could be velour or leather in any colour and depending on colour choice the interior panels were either the standard Reliant finish or sprayed to suit the interior colour scheme, walnut was also a factory option but only a few cars were fitted with this due to the long lead time, four speed automatic was also an option, some owners even made visits to the factory to see their car being hand assembled and at least one made a full photographic record of his car build.

Here's a brief list of some of the improvements made to the Middlebridge Scimitar- Hot Dipped Galvanised Chassis, 100 man hours on body prep; 10 coats of high quality paint including Etch Primer, Primer Filler, Colour Coats and final Lacquer coats all applied in a state of the art Spray Booth by experienced paint sprayer Dave Lewis, 2.9 EFI Engine (150bhp), The new fuel injection employs an inertia mechanism to halt fuel flow in the event of an impact, (Old Scimitars had suffered engine bay fires but not anymore) Two speed fan (this was another Old Scimitar weakness).

Ford also insisted on testing the Middlebridge Cooling system in a climate chamber and increased the radiator depth from 2 to 3 inches 'Middlebridge's don't ', The use of fire retardant resin also reduced fire risk, 5 speed manual or 4 speed auto gearboxes, 'Harvey Bailey' the performance and handling Guru's of the time worked their magic on the handling front and added Bilstein Shocks, 15" Wheels and a rear anti-roll bar, Halogen headlamps x 4, Larger rear lights, improved seating, higher spec interiors, VDO anti-glare instruments, Increased sound deadening throughout, The revised stainless exhaust was tuned to reduce resonance on the rear window, colour coded bumpers, stainless fuel tank straps, leccy windows, leccy heated / adjustable mirrors, rear anti roll bar, Italvolanti Leather Steering wheel, revised front suspension and a top of the range Alpine stereo cassette player, Middlebridge retained the 3.54:1 rear axle ratio from the SE6B which equated to 26 mph per 1,000rpm and 70mph was a leisurely 2,700rpm, a couple of cars had a diff ratio of 3:3-1 the same as the SE6A Scimitar and these could happily cruise at much higher speeds. ;o)

Professional Pre-launch Photo-shoot (South of France)

The Middlebridge photo-shoot has been spoken about on many occasions but I have been holding back with this write up until I had pictures to compliment the write up. Thanks to Ex Middlebridge MD John McCauley I now have some of the original pictures which I'm sure you will agree are stunning.

For the photo-shoot it was decided that "Middlebridge No 1" would be driven down to Cannes in the South of France, The car also averaged 100 + mph on the trip from Nottingham to Cannes where possible. (You could NOT even attempt this nowadays).

One of the drivers was Group Marketing Director Paul Kalwa.

The pictures were for use on the Middlebridge advertising material and the reason for the drive to and back from Cannes was to demonstrate the high speed long distance touring capabilities of the new Middlebridge Scimitar. (It's a great pity that some of the above was not used as it really sums up the true grand touring ability of the new Middlebridge Scimitar GTE.)

It is also believed that the Middlebridge Scimitar was the fastest estate car of the time.

The people who made the trip certainly enjoyed themselves staying in luxuary hotels and thoroughly enjoying all that Cannes had to offer. The pictures however are stunning and once again a real pity that only two were ever used on advertising material.

Middlebridge No 1 is also the car that was loaned to HRH the Princess Royal for three weeks while her own Middlebridge (No 5) was completed. MB No 1 is the car responsible for her legendary speeding tickets. (See the gallery area No 1 of the website for more information on this car.) Incidentally HRH The Princess Royal's Middlebridge (No 5) is the same colour and specification.

Pictures courtesy of Mr John McCauley (Thank you John)