Friday 20th October 2017,
Inopian

Berkeley T60 & T60/4 1959-1960: Another 3-Wheeler Sports Car

Berkeley T60 1959-1960 red profile view on the road top down outside hinges
Surprisingly, Berkeley`s management did not immediately see the potential for a 3-wheeler version of their little sports-car such as the T60 and the T60/4 was. For the benefit of any reader not already acquainted with British eccentricity in regard to the number of wheels used on a car, I will explain. The first question is WHY?

Under British law the definition of `car` specified that it shall have four or more wheels. A car with three wheels is not a car but a motor-tricycle. This type of vehicle falls into the same category as a “combination” or motorcycle and sidecar. Motorcycle regulations therefore applied.

A ‘full’ car license is not required to drive it, a motorcycle license suffices. The Purchase Tax (now called VAT), was set at a lower rate and road-tax was much lower. Motorcycles were used by a large percentage of the British public in the 1960s and 3-wheeler cars offered civilized transport to the motor-cyclist with a family. The 3-wheelers brought about the demise of the companies manufacturing side-cars, like Watsonian.

Price was a major factor in Berkeley`s strategy. The Berkeley T60 had to be cheap to appeal to the motorcycle market. The advantage of a 3-wheeler was running-cost so purchase price was extremely relevant. There was no advantage in having a wheel missing from a driving point of view. Morgan had, by this time, discontinued their 3-wheeler, so there was a definite gap in the market.

The Morgan set-up had one major flaw, rear-wheel drive. Putting a lot of power through a single wheel caused adhesion problems in corners. The Berkeley T60 and the T60/4 were front-wheel drive cars and so were better behaved. They also had less power to spin the wheels with!

The T60 owner had all the joy of driving a Berkeley sports-car while probably never missing the fourth wheel! Logically the braking and adhesion would have been reduced by 25% but nobody complained.

Berkeley based the car on the SE328 sports-car, modifying the rear of the monocoque to take the single wheel. Forward of the rear-wheel nothing else was changed, the front-end was identical to the SE328. It was a very tidy job that did not detract from the original pretty shape. The restricted space behind the seats offered an uncomfortable and cramped little hole to drop the children in!

The motor used was the Excelsior Talisman 2-stroke air-cooled twin producing 18 bhp. It was coupled to an Albion VR 4-speed gearbox with a reverse gear. Power was transmitted via a primary-chain to the gearbox and then by secondary-chain to the differential. Drive from the differential to the wheels was through half-shafts using Hardy-Spicer CV joints. A multi-plate wet clutch was used. Stopping power was supplied by drum brakes fitted front and rear. The front brakes were “twin-leading-shoe” type, the best brakes available at that time. The car was fitted with a combined electric starter/dynamo by Siba Dynastart.

In October 1960 the T60/4 was offered. This was a 2+2 version but very much not a Lotus Elan Plus 2. It had a proper seat for the children, which was a little spoiled by the `wheel-arch` bump in the middle of it. The extra space was the result of a modified rear body-shell moulding.

The T60 and T60/4 continued to the bitter end of Berkeley in spite of it’s popularity and was a resounding success. A total of 1800 units were made in the 16 month period before closure in December 1960. They are still much-loved and sought-after to the point of classic car desirability. Many enthusiasts still buy them as replica kit cars.

Berkeley T60 & T60/4 1959-1960 Specs
 
Body Type2 seater/2+2 roadster
Engine PlacementFront
Drive TypeFront wheel drive
Brakes
FrontDrum
RearDrum
Dimensionsmminches
Length3150124
Width128350.5
Height105441.5
Wheelbase221087
Cargo VolumeBugger-all
Engine328cc Excelsior Two-stroke
Cylindersstraight 2
Displacement328 cc20 cui
Power13 Kw18 bhp5000 RPM
TorqueWould like to know
Power/weight52 bhp/t
FuelPetrol
Top Speed97 km/h60 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mphRequires patience
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Urban5.353.3
Extra-urban3.972
Combined4.660.8
Gearbox4 speed manual+reverse
Weight346 kg763 lb
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Berkeley T60 & T60/4 1959-1960: Another 3-Wheeler Sports Car, 10.0 out of 10 based on 6 ratings
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About Bev Roberts

Speed, the smell of hot oil, the roar of a straight-through exhaust and the scream of an engine at max revolutions. They have all been a large part of my life for almost 50 years. It is time to share my experiences with you, dear reader. Do you want to know more? Read on through my `Full Bio` and many articles.

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I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.

In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.

As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.

At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!

When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.

I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.

Enjoy Inopian… it is constructed and written for you.

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