Berkeley Logo

The individual responsible for designing the Bond mini-car, Mr. Lawrence Bond, was given the opporutnity to create the Berkeley cars of the mid-1950s. The request had come through Charles Panter of the Berkeley Coachwork Company, which specialized in building trailers in Britain. 

Inspired by the small sports cars found throughout England, Bond created a sports car that was inexpensive, yet packed with performance and visual appeal. An added benefit was the skill of the Berkeley Coachwork Company, which was used to working with fiberglass material. The Berkeley cars were given a steel chassis with an alloy-reinforced fiberglass body, making them rigid yet low in weight. Mounted under the bonnet was a vertical, air-cooled two (and sometimes three) cylinder engine. When first introduced in 1956, the engine produced 18 horsepower. By the close of the 1950s, the power had risen to 50. 

The Berkeley cars made their debut at the London Motor Show in 1956. Most were sold in Europe with a few being sent to the United States. Sales were never strong as their price was similar to their larger, more refined competition such as the Austin-Healey. 

The engine used during the first two years of production were either an Anzani or Excelsior unit. The wheelbase measured 70-inches and the height was just 41-inches. With an overall weight of about 600 pounds, the cars were advertised as having a 60-mpg fuel economy. Top speed was around 70 mph, though a 120-mph speedometer was fitted. There was a three-speed motorcycle-type gearbox with a chain drive to the three-plate disc clutch. The gearshift was a gate-style lever that had neutral positions between gears plus a main neutral. 

By the late 1950s, the B95/QB95 was introduced. The B95 had a wheelbase size of 70-inches, while the QB95 rested on a 78-inch platform. The engine now had a four-stroke design and displaced 692cc. Girling drum brakes could be found in the front and the rear. 

The design had changed slightly from the original Berkeleys; the grille had become square and the hood now had a bulge to conceal the larger engine. 

Funds were not available to make bank payments for the loan that had been funding this project, and by 1960, production ceased. With the demise of the company meant that the supply of Excelsior engines was no longer needed. Though other micro car companies were using these motorcycle engines, the Berkeley Company had been one of their top customers. When Berkeley went under, it was not long before the Excelsior had a similar fate.


 The cars were an instant success to the home market, and many derivative versions were spawned within the four years of auto manufacturing. Export markets, especially the Usa, were used as well as the vehicles gained a reputation for enjoyment, if delicate, sports motoring on the budget. Recognising the danger posed by the just - introduced AustinHealey Sprite and Mini, the business began to build up are a more standard model with all the assistance of Ford.

Unfortunately the autoavan industry collapsed to the end-of 1960, and Berkeley's inadequate cashflow pushed the business into liquidation on 12 December 1960, getting its auto making activities with it. After that year having made about 4100 automobiles of numerous kinds, the work force was laid off just before Christmas. 
A street named 'Berkeley Close' in the housing estate supplies the only apparent connection to the vehicle factory.
Now there's an energetic owner's club (the Berkeley Enthusiasts' Club), which supplies a variety of components and services geared toward keeping the remaining few hundred automobiles known to survive globally.
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