Middlebridge Scimitar No. 5


Welcome back everyone to our vehicle of the month series. This September we’re featuring a personally owned and driven by HRH The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, Middlebridge Scimitar Number 5. 


 HRH, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, had a real passion for Scimitars, of which she had eight. The passion must have stemmed from her father, Prince Philip who had a Scimitar and a very special one at that. He owned the only Triplex Ogle GTS (Reg. 66 OGLE but to be DVLA correct 660 GLE). It is currently in the USA and in the hands of former Ogle designer Professor Carl Olson.




HRH the Princess Royal’s 1st Scimitar was aircraft blue in colour and a joint 20th birthday and Christmas present from her parents, the late Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. Incredibly, her brother, Prince Edward, also owned a Scimitar as well! (Photo credit John Heath). 






After several more Scimitars and during 1988 HRH, The Princess Royal opened a factory in Beeston, Nottingham, where the NEW Middlebridge Scimitar was being built. Middlebridge worked closely with Reliant and the Owners Club (RSSOC) to enable them to identify the marque weaknesses and improve the quality and refinement during development of the new car. This process took nearly 3 years, with over 450 improvements made. The picture above shows HRH, The Princess Royal, opening the Middlebridge Scimitar Factory in Beeston, Nottingham in 1988.



To the delight of Middlebridge Scimitar Ltd, HRH ordered a car which would turn out to be the last Scimitar she would own and for a full 35 years! Middlebridge supplied the car with the Princess Royal’s private plate, 1420 H, fitted. All the Princess Royal’s Scimitars have shared the same cherished number plate which refers to her position as Colonel-in-Chief of the 14/20 Hussars. She was appointed the Colonel-in-Chief of the 14/20 Hussars in 1969.  


The number plate 1420 H was sourced by the Regiment from, of all things, a milk float in Bermondsey, London, and presented to her as a 20th birthday present in 1970 from the Regiment.



Middlebridge did not get No. 5 completed on time for HRH the Princess Royal and she was loaned Middlebridge No. 1 which was built to a virtually identical specification.

It was this car that was all over the press in early 1989 as HRH was clearly enjoying the car’s performance and got stopped for speeding on two successive days, and by the same Policeman. ‘Ma’am was NOT amused’.





The car was specified with 5-speed manual transmission, econo-drive cruise control, head-lamp wipers, sapphire green pearlescent paint, a black velour interior and a car phone. The car is still exactly as it left the factory on 13th December 1988. The drive train is totally original and, incredibly, this even includes the original exhaust system! The interior is also totally original with the clock still working and holding good time. If that was not impressive enough, when the discreet rear boot cubby boxes were opened inside was the original car jack, wheel brace and the tool roll with all the tools in very good original condition. The Princess Royal’s Middlebridge was the only car that was serviced and maintained by Middlebridge Scimitar Ltd and was collected and returned to Gatcombe by Middlebridge engineers. (See picture below). On one occasion the security personal at Gatcombe Park (the home of HRH the Princess Royal) could hear a noise in the garage, on investigation it was emanating from the car, the bonnet was lifted and after much tinkering and pulling the noise stopped. Middlebridge were called out and fitted a new front wiring loom. What was the problem? There wasn’t one! HRH had just returned from a run in the car and the electric fan was still cooling down the engine prior to the wiring being ripped off.  

Approx. 2014, ‘The MESS’ contacted HRH The Princess Royal and asked about the possibility of a photo of herself with her Middlebridge Scimitar and were delighted to hear back with a ‘Yes, this will be sorted for you and The MESS’. 

Please see the two photo’s exclusively taken for ‘The MESS’ (Middlebridge Enthusiasts Scimitar Set).




It is testament to HRH, The Princess Royal’s care for the vehicle that it is in such a good condition after 114,000 miles of (no doubt), some very enthusiastic driving!



The car is instantly recognisable by the horse mascot on the bonnet which, on inspection, is actually being ridden by a female equestrian rider and is believed to be a present from her Mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, at the time of the 1976 Olympics when the Princess Royal rode the late Queen Elizabeth II’s horse ‘Goodwill’ during the 3-day Montreal event. It is assumed this bonnet mascot is unique. 

The car also has a badge bar that was designed and fitted by Middlebridge Scimitar Ltd during the initial build. Mounted on the badge bar, to the left looking at the car is a Royal Automobile Club badge, centre is the Hawk (Prussian Egle), a gift from the 14/20 Royal Hussars to HRH the Princess Royal on becoming their Colonel-in-Chief. To the right is a badge depicting the Young Adventurers Club, London. 




The original 1420 H number plates that Middlebridge had made were left in the boot of the car and can be used as show plates while the car is on display. (We can only presume that they were changed due to a small crack at MOT time at some point). 

HRH was not only a Middlebridge Scimitar owner but was also active with ‘The MESS’ (Middlebridge Enthusiasts Scimitar Set). You will note the Middlebridge Front Grille Badge which was purchased by Princess Anne from ‘The MESS’ and proudly adorns Middlebridge No. 5 and has done so for many years. The car also has the later personalised owner’s hand book, a 1:43 model of the car and a set of Anniversary tread-plates signed by all Middlebridge owners and enthusiasts that attended the marque’s 25th Anniversary event held at her Gatcombe Park home in 2014.





The MESS are delighted to have a good rapport with HRH, The

Princess Royal, and were truly delighted/ honoured during 2014 to have been given permission to hold our Middlebridge 25th Anniversary/Reunion at Gatcombe

Park, the home of Princess Anne. The 3-day event ran alongside the famous Gatcombe Horse Trials and we even got one of the horse fences named ‘The Middlebridge Jump’. Without doubt our best-ever event.  HRH’s car was also part of the display and looked really great. 






Once again, the MESS contacted HRH the Princess Royal to request a loan of her car to display at the Silverstone Classic, July 2019, this event was also the Middlebridge Scimitar 30th Anniversary event. It saw many Middlebridge cars on the track for an Anniversary parade lap. Once again, HRH’s car was part of the display and looked really great and drew much attention. She was parked next to the MB Prototype Scimitar and the Middlebridge Racing car that Mark Blundell raced for Middlebridge Racing. 



Middlebridge were also selected by Silverstone to do a professional ‘Silverstone Classic’ promotional video while doing a full lap of the actual GP circuit.




On returning the Princess Royal’s car to Gatcombe in July ‘The MESS’ cheekily asked for yet another favour - another loan of the car. The car would take pride of place on our stand at the NEC Lancaster Classic Motor Show and once again be displayed next to Mark Blundell’s incredibly livered Middlebridge Race car sponsored by Cadbury’s. The display looked awesome and both the above cars and our stand were kept incredibly busy for all 3 days. We ‘The MESS’ would like to openly thank HRH The Princess Royal for all of her support of ‘The MESS’ and the Middlebridge marque. Thank you.



Soon after COVID 19 broke out and that was the end of play for some time, sadly. The MESS kept in touch with owners via zoom meetings.

During 2022/2023, ‘The MESS’ and Gatcombe Park were in talks about Middlebridge No. 5 which, for personal security reasons, was not being used and enjoyed to the same degree that it used to be. A private collector to HRH put a proposal forward to confirm that would see the car conserved and maintained to enable display in a well-known museum for all to view whilst also being available to ‘The MESS’ for specific events upon request. It can be confirmed that on 20th March 2023, Middlebridge No. 5 became part of a private collection and that all of the conservation works agreed in advance with Her Royal Highness are at a very advanced stage focusing hugely on retaining the cars originality.


Conserving the car was a very unique proposition. It was vitally important that a car with this provenance should be kept 100% original. This did present problems but these have been overcome and it now has an MOT with no advisories and has been transported to a marque/fibreglass specialist for very minimal paint correction and conservation work to remove stone chips and the odd mark caused through 35 years’ of enjoyment of the car. The conservation work was made much easier thanks to the following, the fantastic upkeep and originality of the car. Fibreglass does not (of course), rust, the complete chassis is A1 and was galvanised from manufacture. The Middlebridge Scimitar comes with virtually indestructible mechanicals. According to the history file the only internal engine work was a head gasket job many years ago. Once the preservation works are completed the car will be transported to a museum where it will form an important part of an interactive display for the public to view and learn of the car’s unique, incredible history and provenance. As agreed, the car will occasionally be transported to various events throughout the UK. The last pictures of No. 5 are below, at the point of collection from HRH the Princess Royal’s home, Gatcombe Park.



The next pictures of No 5 will be post preservation and on route to the museum. We do look forward to seeing the pictures. 

We hope this brief summary gives you a good taster of what to expect.

 Kindest Regards,

 The M.E.S.S. 


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