Kit car passion

The car was sold in kit form, common in those days to avoid the Purchase Tax from which such unassembled cars were exempt.

The car manufacturing adventure of the Welsh Gilbern began in 1959 with the co-operation between Giles Smith and Bernard Friese, a German engineer with experience in glass-fibre.

Their first car was the GT, a 2+ 2 coupé with elegant sporting lines taking many cues from other British car brands of the time such as Aston Martin and MG. Its body was a single-piece glass-fibre structure. The car was sold in kit form, common in those days to avoid the Purchase Tax from which such unassembled cars were exempt.

The car’s chassis was made of square steel tubing and the first ones used Austin A35 suspension and a modified Morris Minor rear axle. At first the car’s engines were the well-known 948 cc BMC unit, which could be fitted with an optional Shorrocks supercharger; the 1098 cc Coventry Climax engine with an overhead camshaft; or the 1588 cc MGA sports car engine. Subsequently the 1798 cc MGB engine was offered, when the name of the car became GT1800.

After 280 examples had been made the car ceased production in 1966, when the new Genie model took over. Gilbern continued making cars until 1973 when it closed due to bankruptcy.

Text by Tommaso Lai

Translation by Norman Hawkes

Copyright © Cars Forgotten Stories. All rights reserved.


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