Berkeley Car Logo
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Berkeley Cars Ltd of Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, England produced small economical sporting microcars with motorcycle-derived engines from 322 cc to 692 cc and front wheel drive between 1956 and 1960.
The company produced novel sportscar designs by Lawrie Bond in the Berkeley Coachworks factory owned by Charles Panter, which at the time was one of the largest manufacturers of caravans in Europe. It was an ideal project for Berkeley, who had developed considerable skills in the use of Glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), and were looking for something to fill the gaps in the very seasonal caravan market. What Panter and Bond wanted to achieve was "something good enough to win World 750cc races... but cheap, safe, easily repairable and pretty."
Bond's design capitalised on Berkeley's GRP experience, and consisted of three large mouldings (floor or 'punt', nose, tail) with no conventional chassis. Production began with 3 prototypes, which were seen being tested with enthusiasm around the neighborhood of Biggleswade in the late summer of 1956. Stirling Moss drove one at Goodwood in September, and the public saw the new Berkeley en masse at the 1956 London Motor Show - one year ahead of the Lotus Elite which was also to be of fibreglass monocoque construction.
Unfortunately the caravan market collapsed towards the end of 1960, and Berkeley's slumping sales forced the company into liquidation on 12 December 1960, taking its car manufacturing activities with it. After having produced about 4100 cars of various types, the workforce was laid off shortly before Christmas that year. An attempted sale of the company to Sharp's Commercials Limited (manufacturer of the Bond Minicar) came to nothing, and the last cars were sold in 1961.
The factory was later used by Kayser Bondor Ltd to make women's underwear, but it has now been demolished and the site turned over to housing. A road named 'Berkeley Close' in the housing estate provides the only obvious link to the car factory.
More Information About Berkeley
|Headquarters||Biggleswade, England, UK|
|Company Name:||Berkeley Cars Ltd|
|Company Products||SA322, SE328, SE492, T60, B95, B105|