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Gilbern Sports Cars (Components) Ltd
Fate Bankrupt
Founded 1959
Defunct April 1973
Headquarters Llantwit Fardre, Pontypridd, Glamorgan
Key people Giles Smith, Founder
Bernard Friese, Founder
Industry Automobiles
Gilbern Invader Mk III - AJA 439L at Kemble 09 - DSC02221

A mk III Gilbern Invader at Kemble in 2009

Gilbern cars were made in Llantwit Fardre, Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales between 1959 and 1973.

Gilbern Sports Cars (Components) Ltd was founded by Giles Smith, a butcher, and Bernard Friese a German engineer with experience in glass fibre mouldings[1] and was one of the few cars to be made in Wales. Friese had made a one off car for himself and the two partners used this as the basis for the first Gilbern car. The initial premises were a tiny workshop in Church Village, Pontypridd but when production started the business moved to a new location at the old Red Ash Colliery at nearby Llantwit Fadre. The cars were available at first only as kits but later complete cars were also available.

In 1968, following a search for a cash injection, Gilbern was taken over by Ace Capital Holdings Ltd whose main business was the manufacture of slot machines.[1] Following the takeover Giles Smith left the company to be replaced by Mike Leather and Maurice Collins as joint managing directors. In 1970 Ace was bought by entertainment group Mecca Ltd who sold the company to Maurice Collins who in 1972 sold it again to Mike Leather..

The cars were expensive for the time and became more so with taxation changes that added Value Added Tax to kit cars and production ceased in 1973.

Gilbern GTEdit

Gilbern GT
Manufacturer Gilbern Sports Cars (Components) Ltd
Production 1959-1967
280 made[2]
Successor Gilbern Genie
Body style(s) 2-door coupé
Engine(s) various
Wheelbase 93 in (2,400 mm)[3]
Length 152 in (3,900 mm)[3]
Width 60 in (1,500 mm)[3]
Height 52 in (1,300 mm)[4]

The GT, a 2+2 two door coupé was the company's first car and was made between 1959 and 1967. The GT Mk 1 was initially available with either 948 cc Austin-Healey Sprite with an optional Shorrocks supercharger or Coventry Climax 1098 cc engines. The chassis was fabricated from square steel tubing and the front suspension was initially from the Austin A35. The body was a one piece moulding. Although usually supplied in kit form, the body was provided fully trimmed and painted leaving the purchaser to only complete the mechanical items.

Later versions came with a B-series 1500 or 1600 cc MGA or 1800 cc MGB engine and coil sprung BMC rear axle. With the coming of the larger engine, the car was renamed the 1800GT.

A car with 1600 cc (ex MGA) engine was tested by the British The Motor magazine in 1961 and was found to have a top speed of 94.3 mph (151.8 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 13.8 seconds. A fuel consumption of 35 miles per imperial gallon (8.1 L/100 km/29 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £978 including taxes of £251. [4].

Gilbern GenieEdit

Gilbern Genie
Manufacturer Gilbern Sports Cars (Components) Ltd
Production 1966-1969
197 made[5]
Successor Gilbern Invader
Body style(s) 2-door coupé
Engine(s) Ford 3 litre V-6
Wheelbase 93 in (2,400 mm)[3]
Length 159 in (4,000 mm)[3]
Width 65 in (1,700 mm)[3]
Fuel capacity 14 imp gal (64 L/17 US gal)[6]

In 1966 a larger upmarket model, the Genie appeared at the London Motor Show. It had either a 2.5 or 3 litre Ford V6 engine and gear box with optional overdrive but the steering and back axle were still BMC units from the MGB. The rear suspension differed from the MG however with coil spring/damper units and trailing arms.

The 2.5 litre version was dropped in 1968. In 1969 a complete car cost around £2000.

Gilbern InvaderEdit

Gilbern Invader
Gilbern Invader Reg Jun 1972 2994 cc
Manufacturer Gilbern Sports Cars (Components) Ltd
Production 1969-1973
603 made[5]
Predecessor Gilbern Genie
Body style(s) 2-door coupé
Engine(s) Ford 3 litre V-6
Transmission(s) 4-speed manual all-synchromesh[7]
Wheelbase 93 in (2,400 mm)[3]
Length 159 in (4,000 mm)[3]
Width 65 in (1,700 mm)[3]
Height 51 in (1,300 mm)[7]
Fuel capacity 14 imp gal (64 L/17 US gal)[7]

The final car was the Invader, introduced in July 1969[7] and based on the Genie but with improved chassis and larger brakes. The front suspension now came from the MGC and the chassis was strengthened. It took the brand further up market with fittings such as electric windows and walnut veneered dashboard.. The Invader was available as a complete car and from 1970 an estate version was also made. Automatic or manual transmission with overdrive were available. It was updated to the Mk II version in 1971.

Launched in September 1972,[8] the Mk III version had a Ford Cortina front suspension and was restyled front and rear. The engine was the higher tune unit from the Ford Capri 3000GT. The body was produced using new moulds and was both wider and lower than that of the earlier Invader.[8] Track was extended by four inches (10 cm).[8] The wider axle led to wheel spats being added to the sides of the car. At the back the live rear axle was located by trailing links and a Panhard rod: adjustable shock absorbers were fitted all round.[8]

It was only available as a factory built car and cost £2693 in 1972.

Gilbern Invader Mk III AJA 439L at Kemble 09 - DSC02220

Gilbern Invader rear view

Examples in preservationEdit

Add details of any other known survivors.

Template:PML Gilbern

See alsoEdit

Preservation related

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Georgano, N. (2000). Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile. London: HMSO. ISBN 1579582931. 
  2. Robson, Graham (2006). A-Z British Cars 1945-1980. Devon, UK: Herridge & Sons. ISBN 0-9541063-9-3. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Culshaw; Horrobin (1974). Complete Catalogue of British Cars. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0333166892. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The Gilbern MkI", The Motor. November 15 1961. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Sedgwick, Michael; Gillies (1993). A-Z of cars 1945-1970. UK: Bay View Books. ISBN 1-870979-39-7. 
  6. "Gilbern Genie", Daily Express Motor Show Review 1968 2s 6d: page 22. October 1968. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "Autotest: Gilbern Invader", Autocar 131 (nbr 3834): pages 16 - 19. date 14 August 1969. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "Worldwide news and comment: Gilbern Invader Mark III", Autocar 137 (nbr 3985): page 3. date 14 September 1972. 

External linksEdit



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