Tag Archives: Friese

The Only Power Is Essex – Gilbern Genie

Building on the steady success of the original Gilbern GT, Giles Smith and Bernard Friese launched it’s replacement the Genie at the 1966 London Motor Show.

Gilbern Genie, Cotswold Classic Car Club, Frogmill Andoversford

The all new car was powered by Ford Essex V6 motors as used to power the 1966 – 1972 Ford Zephyr in 2,495 cc / 152 cui form and the 1966-72 Ford Zodiac in 2,994 cc 183 cui form.

Gilbern Genie, Cotswold Classic Car Club, Frogmill Andoversford

The Genie was fitted with an MG B rear axle located originally by Panhard Rod and later by the older but more sophisticated Watts Linkage.

Production of the Genie started in 1967 and the following year Giles Smith left Gilbern, to be replaced by Mike Leather and Maurice Collins as joint managing directors after securing Gilberns future by selling out to slot machine manufacturer Ace Capital Holdings Ltd.

Between 1967 and 197 Genies were built before the Genie’s successor the Invader was introduced, today’s featured Genie is a 3 litre 1968 example seen at last years New Years Day Cotswold Classic Car Club meeting at Frogmill Andoversford.


Butcher & POW – Gilbern GT

While Great Britain has contributed a fair share to motor manufacturing history apart from Argylle, Hillman / Singer and Scamp in Scotland, Shamrock and DeLorean in Ireland and one manufacturer in Wales all of the remaining manufacturers have been based in England.

The manufacturer in Wales came about after founder and Pontypridd family butcher Giles Smith, who dreamt of building his own GT Coupé met former German prisoner of war (POW) and engineer Bernard Friese who was experienced in working with fiberglass.

Gilbern GT, Bristol Classic Motor Show, Shepton Mallet

Together they built a one off vehicle based on Austin A35 running gear in the back of Giles butchers shop and invented the name Gilbern from the opening letters of their respective christian names.

After cutting down a tree at the back of the butchers shop to get it on the road the new Gilbern drew favourable comments including that it “looked like a bought one”.

Gilbern GT, Bristol Classic Motor Show, Shepton Mallet

Smith and Friese needed no further encouragement to go into business and found Wales’s first and so far only car manufacturing operation in Pontypridd where half a dozen staff began manufacturing Gilbern GT kits at the rate of one a month.

The Gilbern GT suitable for a variety of engines mainly from MG and Coventry Climax recieved good reviews but costing £1,000 pounds the Gilbern GT was considered expensive at around twice the price of a family 4 door saloon.

Gilbern GT, Bristol Classic Motor Show, Shepton Mallet

This particular car, seen at the Bristol Classic Motor Show a couple of years ago was first registered in August 1961.

So far as I can tell from the 1275 cc / 77.8 cui engine size it is fitted with an British Motor Corporation (BMC) A series motor, first seen in the 1964 Mini Cooper S, suggesting another motor was fitted when the car was first built.

Gilbern GT, Bristol Classic Motor Show, Shepton Mallet

Powered by an MGA 1600 motor a Gilbern GT was independently tested as capable of reaching 60 mph from rest in 13.8 seconds and a top speed of 94 mph with an average fuel consumption of 35 mpg imp / 29 mpg US.

Between 1959 and 1967 280 Gilbern 2+2 GT Coupe’s were built before the all new Gilbert Genie model was introduced.

Thanks for joining me on this “Butcher & POW” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Maserati Monday. Don’t forget to come back now !