Monday 22nd July 2019,

Gilbern GT MKI 1959 – 1967

Gilbern`s first car, based on Bernhard Freise`s prototype was christened Gilbern GT MK1. There was obviously an intention to continue with MK II in the future though that did not happen. Subsequent cars would carry names, not mark numbers.

The decision was made at the inception not to sell cars that would require the owner to hunt around for used parts. The kits would be supplied with all the parts necessary to complete the build. Gilbern also supplied the bodies painted, trimmed and fully wired. Early MK 1s were subject to almost monthly revisions, no two cars were identical. According to every source, none of the early cars survive to this day. An early example, that is, a car with either an Austin-Healey Sprite or a Coventry-Climax engine would be extremely valuable.


The chassis was the now-fashionable space-frame, made of one inch square box-section steel with a steel platform floor, just like with Bristol cars, Peerless and all Healey cars. The fixed head coupe body-shell was a one-piece, glass-fibre moulding with 2 doors and seating for 4. The running-gear was BMC sourced. Austin A35 coil and wishbone front suspension with A35 live rear axle, modified to use coil-springs and trailing arms. Braking was by Austin-Healey Sprite front discs and rear drums. Steel wheels were standard although wire-wheels were offered on later cars.


The early engines varied, depending on availability. Gilbern was a small-scale manufacturer and therefore could not command priority or discounts when buying components, especially engines. The most common application was the `A series` Austin-Healey Sprite 948 cc. This was a 4-cylinder OHV water-cooled cast-iron engine with twin SU carburettors.

Another early fitment was a much more interesting one. Still using the A series Austin-Healey Sprite 948 but with the addition of a Shorrocks supercharger pushing out 67 bhp. The other rare engine version used the all-alloy Coventry-Climax 1098 cc OHC. Also a 4 in-line engine, this would have been by-far the faster of the three cars. Unfortunately we can’t give the specs since there aren’t any more left to test. Or so they say…

1962 saw an uprated and much improved Gilbern GT arrive. Bodily identical to the earlier car it used an MGA engine and gearbox. The MK1 `B series` MGA unit displaced 1588 cc, always known as the `1600`. This engine produced 78 bhp and 83 ft/lbs of torque in standard tune. It had a compression ratio of 8.3:1 and twin 1.5 inch SU carburettors. MGA coil and wishbone suspension was at the front while an MGA live-axle was used at the rear with coil-springs and trailing-arms.

Later in 1962 the 1588 cc engine was replaced by the MKII B-series 1622 cc unit. There was obviously very little difference in capacity but the `1600`, was tuned for better output, the compression ratio was boosted to 8.9:1. The 1622 cc produced 93 bhp and 97 ft/lbs of torque, giving the car a top-speed of 94.3 mph and a 0-60 time of 13.8 seconds.

As a classic car the most valuable Gilbern GT would have to be the one with the original supercharged A-series engine. If you have one or know of someone who has one, let us know. We would love to know more about this example.

Gilbern GT MKI 1959-1967 Specs
Body Type2 door 4 seater coupe
Engine PlacementFront
Drive TypeRear wheel drive
Cargo VolumeVery little
Engine948 BMC A-Series OHV 8V
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement948 cc57.9 cui
Power34 Kw45 bhp5500 RPM
Torque71 Nm52 ft. lb3000 RPM
Power/weight57 bhp/t
Top Speed122 km/h76 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph20.1 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual
Weight785 kg1731 lb
Engine948 BMC A-Series OHV 8V with Shorrock Supercharger
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement948 cc57.9 cui
Power50 Kw67 bhp5700 RPM
Torque87 Nm64 ft. lb3000 RPM
Power/weight85 bhp/t
Top Speed145 km/h90 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph15.8 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual
Weight785 kg1731 lb
Engine1000 Coventry-Climax OHC 8V
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement1098 cc67 cui
Power56 Kw75 bhp6000 RPM
Torque94 Nm69 ft. lb5000 RPM
Power/weight96 bhp/t
Top Speed148 km/h92 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph14.7 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual
Weight785 kg1731 lb
Engine1600 MKI OHV B-series Morris
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement1588 cc96.9 cui
Power58 Kw78 bhp5500 RPM
Torque113 Nm83 ft. lb3500 RPM
Power/weight99 bhp/t
Top Speed150 km/h93 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph14.3 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual
Weight785 kg1731 lb
Engine1600 MKII OHV B-series Morris
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement1622 cc99 cui
Power69 Kw93 bhp5500 RPM
Torque132 Nm97 ft. lb4000 RPM
Power/weight118 bhp/t
Top Speed152 km/h94 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph13.8 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual
Weight785 kg1731 lb
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Gilbern GT MKI 1959 - 1967, 10.0 out of 10 based on 4 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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