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Why This British Contraption On Ebay Is The Craziest Jeep Project Ever

Someone in Bristol in southwest England let their love for automotive weirdness go too damn far. They’re selling an incomplete project that consists of a Jeep Cherokee XJ front end, a Reliant SS1 chassis, a Mazda Miata motor and transmission, and a hodgepodge of other British car parts that will definitely leave you baffled.

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I don’t have a lot of information on this eBay contraption for sale for 700 pounds (roughly $900) other than what’s in the photos and description. But trust me when I say that that’s more than enough to send your jaw to the floor.

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The listing, which is title “Scimitar ss1 , hot rod , MX5 engine and box , drifter , Galvanised chassis” begins describing the machine by stating: “Hi all here is a mates project he brought a scimitar SS1turbo. yes . A galvanized chassis.”

We’re only a line into the eBay listing’s description, and we already have to pause, because—if you’re not already familiar with the Scimitar SS1—you absolutely have to take a look at the amazing, British convertible:

Image: Reliant
Image: Reliant

British Automaker Reliant built Scimitars starting in the 1960s, but the 1984 Scimitar SS1—which stuck around until 1990—was much different than its forbearers. Previous Scimitars had fiberglass bodies mounted to separate frames, whereas the Scimitar SS1, which also had some fiberglass in its body, bolted plastic panels to a space-frame design. Here’s a look at the space frame, as well as the powertrain and drivetrain:

Image: Reliant
Image: Reliant
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And here’s a photo of that spaceframe from the eBay post:

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The listing specifically mentions a galvanized chassis because not all Scimitar SS1's had that option, especially in the early days of production. It’s apparently an important feature, as Scimitar SS1 owners online seem to malign the chassis’ propensity for rotting.

Illustration for article titled Why This British Contraption On Ebay Is The Craziest Jeep Project Ever
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Car website Viaretro describes the fascinating SS1's overall layout, writing:

Boasting a stiff frame chassis with a central backbone, it was clothed in an angular composite body designed by Michelotti no less, incorporating pop up headlamps to keep the nose low and purposeful. Weight was minimal and the 1300cc and 1600cc Ford CVH engines offered at launch only had to haul 839kgs around, promising reasonably lively performance, especially from the latter’s 96bhp. Suspension was independent at all four corners and with the engine mounted well back and the driven wheels at the rear, near 50/50 weight distribution was achieved. The folding roof could be flipped back when the sun shone and an optional hard top promised a snug cockpit in winter.

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Apparently, build quality was awful, and the initial motors were too weak.

In the context of such surprisingly good dynamics, the underpowered 1300cc variant was a complete waste of time, and although the larger capacity motor promised more, Reliant’s claimed performance figures proved optimistic, so it wasn’t quite the hot hatch chaser it was billed as. It took nearly two years for extra poke to arrive with the introduction of the 1800Ti powered by the Nissan CA18ET 1809cc turbocharged engine. Also found in the much heavier Nissan Silvia and Bluebird, the 135bhp motor transformed the SS1’s performance, slicing over two seconds off the dash to 60 mph which now flashed by in 7.6 seconds, before storming on to an impressive 126 mph. Transformative it may have been, but it was too late as initial interest in SS1 had already waned. The main problem wasn’t necessarily one of speed, rather that Reliant simply didn’t built the thing properly.

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Image: Reliant
Image: Reliant

Anyway, let’s continue on with the eBay listing:

...removed the body and started to make a hot rod / rat rod removed the engine as it was no good replaced it with a1.8 MX5 engine and box( he bought a complete MX5 drove it for 2 days to make sure it was ok .when mx5 engine was fitted.he dummied up the propshaft.. 

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You can see the eBay car’s Miata engine in the image above, while the brochure below shows the fuel injected, 16-valve, 1.6 liter, 116 horsepower, 100 lb-ft four-cylinder and five-speed manual in the context of the Mazda MX-5.

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Image: Mazda
Image: Mazda

Okay, so at this point, we’ve established that this eBay listing is for a Reliant SS1 with a Miata engine and transmission. Let’s keep reading the listing’s description:

So fits mx5 box to sierra diff

Here’s an example of a Ford Sierra, which was offered in Europe from the early 1980s to the early 1990s (Ford sold it in the U.S. marketed as the quick, turbocharged Merkur XR4Ti):

Image: Ford
Image: Ford
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The rear differential stands alone, as the Sierra came with fully independent suspension. Incidentally, it could be outfitted with the same CVH family of engines as the Reliant Scimitar SS1.

Image: Ford
Image: Ford
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Let’s continue on with the eBay Listing:

comes complete with ECU and wiring loom log book he wanted a pickup look so purchased a Jeep front . the front end is just tacked in place

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Yes, that’s a Jeep Cherokee XJ nose on the front of this Mazda MX-5-powered, Ford Sierra-diffed Reliant Scimitar SS1 that is meant to look like a pickup truck. Good god does this person have an amazing imagination.

Image: Jeep
Image: Jeep
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Continuing on:

it has Mini Light 13 by 7 alloys

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These look like what you might find on a classic old Mini Cooper:

Illustration for article titled Why This British Contraption On Ebay Is The Craziest Jeep Project Ever
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It turns out, Minilite is an iconic wheel with roots back to 1960s racing, as Minilite writes on its website:

The original Minilite wheel, was probably the most successful competition wheel of the 1960’s and 70’s. As the name suggests, it was originally developed as a magnesium competition wheel for the then revolutionary new Austin ‘Mini’, but its instant success meant that it was soon to be seen on many of the serious race and rally cars of that era. A new iconic style was born, and to this day, all genuine Minilite wheels are made to that original classic design.

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Hemmings has a full story on Minilite wheels. Here’s an excerpt:

Minilite wheels were originally designed in 1962 by John Ford and Derek Power. The wheel they invented was an attempt to provide racers with a substitute for Dunlop-style wire wheels, which were a weight-saving improvement over plain steel discs, but still very heavy.

According to Steve Francis (proprietor of Main Street Motorsport in New Milford, Connecticut, the regional distributor for Minilite), the Minilite’s original eight-spoke design wasn’t an accident. The design itself was developed to force air directly across the brake surfaces, causing a cooling effect. Period tests confirmed that the Ford and Power design did keep braking temperatures down.

The wheels were an overnight success for British racers, and soon, sports car racers from around the world were fitting their race cars with the simple, yet beautifully designed wheels.

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Illustration for article titled Why This British Contraption On Ebay Is The Craziest Jeep Project Ever

Moving on, here’s the last bit from the eBay listing:

will be a fun toy once finished have a manifold and downpipa (sic) but needs fabrication other fabrication possibly needed for front suspension won’t take much to sort this it out and it will be a good fun toy you could change the body and maybe put a Mark 1 Escort fibreglass shell on top or anything of your desire willys Jeep Jeep Jago there’s plenty. To choose from as long as I dint change the chassis I can use it on the same reg 1987 im sure

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Allow me to quickly unpack this. Apparently the car comes with an exhaust manifold and downpipe, but that needs to be put together, as does the front suspension.

The seller suggests that whoever buys this thing install a Mark I Ford Escort shell. That’s this car, which would later become a rally icon:

Image: Ford
Image: Ford
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The seller also suggests throwing a Willys Jeep tub onto this chassis, and even mentions using a Jago body. Jago, by the way, is a British company that, starting in the 1970s, built fiberglass Willys Jeep-shaped bodies to fit over Ford Anglia and Ford Escort mechanical bits. Check it out:

Illustration for article titled Why This British Contraption On Ebay Is The Craziest Jeep Project Ever
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Illustration for article titled Why This British Contraption On Ebay Is The Craziest Jeep Project Ever

Anyway, the point here is that you should all be utterly stunned by this eBay listing, because I sure as hell am. Somebody decided to use a Reliant Scimitar SS1 spaceframe as a basis for a pickup truck with a Jeep Cherokee XJ nose, Mazda MX-5 Miata engine and transmission, Austin Mini wheels, and Ford Sierra differential. And somehow this person suggests slapping the body from a Jago or Ford Anglia on top of it all.

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This whole thing is bonkers, which is why it’s no surprise that the car’s interior looks like a disorganized hodgepodge of parts:

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This person has clearly reached peak car enthusiast, and we should salute him for it.

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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DISCUSSION

briangriffinsprius
BrianGriffin thinks “reliable” is just a state of mind

Let me speak candidly here, David: No, you don’t need this.

Really kinda cool though. Nuts, and unsafe, but nifty.