The Big Car Database

Gilbern

Gilbern Sports Cars (Components) Ltd
Industry Automobiles
Fate Bankrupt
Founded 1959
Founders
  • Giles Smith
  • Bernard Friese
Defunct April 1973
Headquarters Llantwit Fardre, Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales
Key people
  • Mike Leather (Director)
  • Maurice Collins (Director)

Gilbern, Gilbern Sports Cars (Components) Ltd , was a Welsh car manufacturer from 1959 to 1973, based in Llantwit Fardre, Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales.

History

Gilbern Sports Cars (Components) Ltd was founded by Giles Smith (previously a butcher, who died in 2003) and Bernard Friese, a German engineer with experience in glass fibre mouldings, 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 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 Fardre. The cars were available at first only as kits but later complete cars were also available.

The name, Gilbern, was a combination of the first three letters of the name of founder Giles Smith and the first four letters of the name of his co-founder Bernard Friese.

Gilberns have often been entered in competition at the Wiscombe Park Hillclimb, first appearing there in 1962 in the hands of an Aston Martin Owners Club member.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders accepted Gilbern as a member in 1965, and the company was permitted to operate a stand at the British International Motor Show at Earls Court thereafter.

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. 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; in 1972 he in turn sold it 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. Production ceased in 1973.

A one-off concept car, the T11, was produced, just prior to the company's closure, and was restored in 2009-10, appearing in some classic car articles in early 2010.

 
 

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