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Berkeley Cars Ltd
Fate bankrupt
Founded 1956
Defunct 1961
Headquarters Biggleswade, England, UK
Industry Motor vehicle

Berkeley Cars Ltd of Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, England produced small cars with engines from 322cc to 692cc between 1956 and 1960.

In 1991 a new company, Berkeley Cars, was formed to restore original cars and in 1993 they started to build complete T60 models.[citation (source) needed].This business had ceased however by 2005.


The company produced designs by Laurie Bond in the Berkeley Coachworks factory,managing director , Charles Panter who had been making caravans from glass fibre. The first cars were exhibited at the 1956 London Motor Show.

Seven main models were made with several variations. Production stopped in December 1960 when the company went into liquidation .An attempted merger with Bond Cars come to nothing.

The factory was later used by Abbess Office Furniture and Kayser Bondor to make women's underwear, but it has now been demolished and the site turned over to housing,One road is called Berkeley Close.


Sports Type SA 322 , SE 328

Berkeley Sports Type SA 322 and SE 328
Production 1956–1957
1400 approx produced.[1]
Body style(s) 2-door roadster
Engine(s) 322 or 328 cc two stroke twin, air-cooled
Wheelbase 68 in (1,700 mm) [2]
Length 122.5 in (3,110 mm) [2]
Width 50 in (1,300 mm) [2]
Height 43.5 in (1,100 mm) [2]

SA328 fitted with a Honda CB400 super sport engine.

The Sports , initially was produced as the SA322 type, was a glass-fibre monocoque, two-seater open tourer initially powered by an Anzani twin-cylinder 322 cc two-stroke engine producing 15 bhp (11 kW/15 PS). It was mounted transversely and drove the front wheels via a chain and three speed gearbox. The car had all round independent suspension by coil springs and in spite of the tiny engine gave remarkably good performance owing to its light weight (600 pounds - about 270 kg) and excellent roadholding. Girling hydraulic brakes with 7 in (180 mm) drums were used.

Although usually configured as a two seater with simple bench seat, it was possible to put a small child in the back. A removable hatch could be removed from behind the front seat revealing a compartment normally containing the spare wheel and some luggage space. This could be fitted with a basic seat and the spare wheel moved to a shelf in front of the passenger and under the fascia. Equipment was basic, even the fuel gauge was an extra.

After 146 of the SA322 cars were made a change was made to the SE328 model with a 328 cc Excelsior engine offering 18 bhp (13 kW/18 PS). About 1300 were made, many being exported to the United States. The export model was differentiated by having separate headlamps or headlamps contained in pear drop wing extensions whereas on the home market they were faired into the wings although the export type lamps could be specified.Over half were exported mainly to North America.

The Motor magazine tested a 328 cc Berkeley in 1957 and found it to have a top speed of 62.1 mph (99.9 km/h) and acceleration from 0-50 mph (80 km/h) in 30.6 seconds. A fuel consumption of 58.3 miles per imperial gallon (4.85 L/100 km/48.5 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £574 on the home market including taxes of £152. [2]

The model was partly reintroduced in Oct 1960 as the B 65 but featured a SE 492 body style and a four speed gearbox. Approx 10 were built .Top speed was just over 60 mph (97 km/h).

Sports SE492 and Foursome

Berkeley B90 and Foursome
1959BerkeleySE492-rear.jpg1959 Berkeley SE492
Production 1957–1959
Body style(s) 2-door roadster
Engine(s) 492 cc two stroke three cylinder
Wheelbase 70 in (1778 mm) (2 seat)
78 in (1981.2 mm) (4 seat)[3]

For 1958 the engine was changed to a 30 bhp (22 kW/30 PS), Excelsior three-cylinder 492 cc with three carburettors. A four speed gearbox was standardised. The top speed was now 80 mph (130 km/h).The chassis and body were improved and can be identified by vertical leading edges on the doors and internal hinges. A Foursome four seater was now available in a slightly wider body and a closed coupé version was also made. Top speed was now over 80 mph (130 km/h).Most were exported to North America.

The cars were successful in Motor Sport in the UK,USA and Giovanni Lurani bought three which he took to Italy, fitted them with his own design of hardtop, and running them in the 750 cc GT class, one driven by Lorenzo Bandini finishing first in the 1958 Monza 12 hour race.

Over 650 of the two seater and approx 16 four seaters were made.

Sports B95 and B105

Berkeley B95 and B105
Production 1959–1961
Body style(s) 2-door roadster
Engine(s) 692 cc four stroke twin cylinder
Wheelbase 78 in (1981.2 mm)[3]
Length 125 in (3,200 mm) (2 seat)
131 in (3,300 mm) (4 seat)[1]
Width 54 in (1371.6 mm)[3]

In 1959 the cars got more power, from twin-cylinder Royal Enfield 692 cc four-stroke engines, with 40 bhp (30 kW/41 PS) in the B95 and 50 bhp (37 kW/51 PS) in the twin-carburettor B105. The engines featured Berkeley-design primary chaincases to accommodate a Bendix starter motor. The B105 could exceed the magic 100 mph (160 km/h). The design of the two four-stoke models was identical to earlier four-wheeled models, with the exception of a taller bonnet (US hood) with large grille to accommodate the engine, unfaired headlights, and duplex chain drive to the differential.

About 200 B95 and B105 models were made.Only a few were exported.

In October 1959 the Q range was announced, with longer and wider bodies. The wheelbase went up from 70 inches (1,800 mm) to 78 inches (2,000 mm) and the track from 42 inches (1,100 mm) to 46 inches (1,200 mm). The Qs were four seaters (just), although the QB version dispensed with the rear seat to give extra luggage space. Very few of the Q cars were made.

Sports T60 and T60-4

Berkeley T60
Berkeley T60 - ODY 935 at NCMM 09 - IMG 5280.jpg1960 T60 Three-wheeler
Production 1959–1960
1850 made[1]
Body style(s) 2-door roadster
Engine(s) 328 cc two stroke twin cylinder
Length 122.5 in (3,110 mm) [1]

The 1959 T60 was intended as a more basic model and was a three wheeler using the Excelsior "Talisman Twin" 328 cc engine seen in the SE328. Drive was still to the front wheels through a four speed gearbox and a trailing arm replaced the swing axle independent suspension of the four wheeled cars. The T60-4 had a larger rear seat and, together with other three wheelers of the era could legally be driven on a motor cycle licence in the UK, so was suitable for a motor cyclist with family. Another advantage was that the registration fees for three wheelers were considerably less than four wheeled vehicles.

Just over 1800 were made, with fewer than 100 on the road as of 2004.


Berkeley Bandit
Production 1960
1 made[1]
Body style(s) 2-door roadster
Engine(s) 997 cc four cylinder
Wheelbase 82 in (2082.8 mm)[3]
Length 143 in (3,600 mm) [1]
Width 54 in (1371.6 mm)[3]

For 1960 the intention was to move into the larger, four-wheeled car market with the Bandit designed by John Tojeiro[1]. This was to be powered by the 997 cc Ford engine (as in the 105E Anglia) with Berkeley designed MacPherson strut front and swing axle rear suspension but the project did not progress beyond the two prototypes (one of which still exists.)

The car was to have sold for £798[1].

Despite false facts elsewhere the Bandit died there - the car made later in NZ had nothing to do with the Bandit.


In 1990 a new company was formed in Syston, Leicestershire, to restore Berkeley cars. By 1991 it was using the original moulds to make new body panels and in 1993 complete T60 cars were being made with a new ladder type chassis[4]. A choice of engines was available including Mini, Citroen 2CV and motor cycle unitsThe company had ceased trading by 2005.

In late 80's in Auckland NZ an Ibis Berkeley paid homage to old style B95 though shared nothing but a vague shape. A fibreglass monocoque some 6 inches wider it took front and rear Mini subframes.

Berkeley (1913)

There was another, unrelated, Berkeley car company in the UK.

This company made some 18 hp cars in 1913. The engine was quoted as a 75x100, 1764 cc unit of unknown origin. Little else is known of them.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Robson, G. (2006). A-Z of British Cars 1945-1980. Devon, UK: Herridge Books. ISBN 1-9541063-9-3. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "The Berkeley Sports two-seater", The Motor. 3 April 1957. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Culshaw; Horrobin (1974). Complete Catalogue of British Cars. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0333166892. 
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Beaulieu

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