Tag Archives: Gilbern

Welsh Shooting Brake – Gilbern Invader Estate Mk II

In 1969 Gilbern launched the first of series of Invaders which were improved versions of the Gilbern Genie larger brakes and only powered by the larger 140 hp 3 liter / 183 cui of the Ford Essex V6 motor.

Gilbern Invader Estate, Bristol Classic Motor Show, Shepton Mallet

In 1970 the first Estate / Station Wagon or more correctly shooting brake versions of the Invader began to appear and in 1971 a Mk II version of Invader was built of the type featured today which was built in 1972 with a with stiffer chassis and MG C front axle.

Gilbern Invader Estate, Bristol Classic Motor Show, Shepton Mallet

During the period of Invader production owners Ace Capital Holdings Ltd, whose primary business was in slot machines, were sold to Mecca whose portfolio included a large stake in the Bingo Hall and related gambling operations and the Miss World Franchise.

Gilbern Invader Estate, Bristol Classic Motor Show, Shepton Mallet

Car manufacture did not fit in with Mecca’s business plan and so Gilbern was sold in a management buyout to first Maurice Collins 1970 and then to his former co director Mike Leather in 1972. For a very short period in 1972 production reached a break even point of 4 cars a week. In all 212 GT and 104 Estate Invader Mk II’s were built up until September 1972 making the MkII the most successful of all Gilbern models.


Another Maxi Powered Prototype – Gilbern T11

Last year when I was wondering around the car park at Crystal Palace for the Motorsport at the Palace event I stumbled across this stunning car which at first glance thought might be one of 80 Piper GT’s but in fact turned out to be a much rarer but contemporaneous prototype Gilbern T11.

The T11’s body work was designed by Trevor Fiore, who designed the similarly rear engined Monteverdi Hai, like the Diablo prototype that became the AC 3000 ME was powered by a Austin Maxi 4 cylinder motor mounted amidships in the steel chassis.

Gilbern T11, Motorsport At The Palace, Crystal Palace

It turns out that three chassis were built but the body work was never completed for any of them despite being tested up to 120 mph at Castle Combe.

The cancellation of the T11 was due to a combination of factors including expansion at the Gilbern factory and uncertainty over future regulations governing sports cars.

Gilbern T11, Motorsport At The Palace, Crystal Palace

The example seen here is the only one ever finished, owner Gordon Johnston ended up making a fresh body for the car alongside devising interior trim and many other ‘minor details’.

Gordon eventually completed and registered the worlds only Gilbern T11 after eight years work, as a 1970 model in 2009.

Thanks for joining me on this “Another Maxi Powered Prototype” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow for a look at an MG XPAG powered special. Don’t forget to come back now !


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 !


Cotswold Classic Car Club – Frogmill Andoversford

Forgoing a New Years day hangover I a woke yesterday just in time to throw a bucket of water over my Golf and head down to Queen Square in Bristol where I met my friend Ted and his friend Ron with a few other Avenue Drivers Club regulars.

Ford, Queen Square Bristol

The meeting was not a regular Avenue Drivers Club event, they only happen on the second Sunday of every month the next one is scheduled for Sunday 13th. We were meeting with the intention of heading 40 miles north to the Frogmill Inn, Andoversford where the Cotswold Classic Car Club was having it’s annual New Years Day Meeting.

Scimitar GTE, Queen Square, Bristol

Ron led the way in his recently acquired 1972 Reliant Scimitar GTE Automatic.

Cotswold Classic Car Club, Frogmill, Andoversford

After a pleasant drive under unusual blue skies we arrived at Frogmill an hour ahead of the advertised time to find the car parks filled with a variety of veteran, vintage and classic vehicles.

Bristol 411, Frogmill, Andoversford

Some of them will be familiar to regular GALPOT readers like this Bristol 411 which I featured a couple of years ago.

Amphicar, Frogmill, Andoversford

This time last year the United Kingdom was preparing for a drought but the weather has since conspired to make 2012 the wettest since records began which should be good news for owners of amphibious vehicles like this Triumph powered 1967 Amphicar.

Invicta, Frogmill Inn, Andoversford

Amongst the vintage vehicles present was this Meadows powered 4.5 litre 1931 Invicta which would have been capable of 100mph when new.

Vauxhall Victor, Frogmill Inn, Andoversford

The 1961 Vauxhall Victor F type above was originally sold by Haines & Strange in Cheltenham, it spent 10 years in Switzerland before being found in a barn in the UK by it’s present owner in 1999. It has been undergoing restoration ever since.

Morris Marina 1.3 Coupé, Frogmill Inn, Andoversford

One of the stranger classics was at the meeting was this 1972 Morris Marina 1.3 Coupé, once a familiar sight on British roads and the subject of a fair amount of derision for rust among other issues. The Maurice Morihno Racing Team logo appears to be pointing further fun at the model examples of which were used in competition rally events back in the day.

Jaguar XK 140 FHC, Frogmill Inn, Andoversford

Signs are that this 1956 Jaguar XK140 FHC may have spent some time in the USA, the UCLA sticker on the back window being an obvious example.

Studebaker Commander, Frogmill Inn, Andoversford

This 1950 Studebaker Commander was only imported into the UK a couple of months ago it would appear to be powered by a 5.7 litre / 347 cui V8.

Wolseley 1500, Frogmill, Andoversford

This 1959 Wolseley 1500 is built on a Morris Minor floorplan and fitted with a larger motor and gearbox from the MG ZB.

Pontiac Firehawk, Frogmill Inn, Andoversford

According to it’s ‘Birth Certificate’ this manual Pontiac Firehawk Mapleleaf Transam was built on February 28th 1999 at LaSalle in Quebec with speedo reading in kilometers for the Canadian market, it’s capable of covering a quarter mile in 13.4 secs and has a restricted top speed of 160 mph.

Triumph Mayflower, Frogmill Inn, Andoversford

Conceived as a small car, same size as a Morris Minor, but following the styling queues of contemporary large Rolls Royce and Bentley models the Triumph Mayflower was aimed squarely at the US market, only 35,000 were built between 1949 and 1953 well below the targeted numbers.

Gilbern Genie, Frogmill Inn, Andoversford

Finally in the overflow car park I found this 1968 Gilbern Genie, built in Wales and powered by a 3 litre 183 cui Ford (Essex) V6 beneath the fibre glass bodywork the suspension is largely inherited from the MG B.

My thanks to Ted Walker for alerting me to the Cotswold Classic Car Club New Years Day meeting.

Thanks for joining me on this “Cotswold Classic Car Club” edition of “Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

PS Details of some of the vehicles seen at Frogmill can be seen on this link.