Berkeley Bandit

Berkeley Bandit

There was increasing competition in the small sports car market especially from cars such as the Austin Healey Sprite. Berkeleys answer to this was a totally new car, this time using a car derived engine instead of a motorcyle unit. The Berkely Bandit used the new 997cc Ford engine as fitted to the 105E Anglia or Classic. Prototypes were built, exhibited at car shows, and test driven by the press.

It had Berkeley-designed MacPherson strut front and independent rear suspension. The car had a complex sheet steel chassis, braced by a GRP floor which was riveted to it, and boasted 8in diameter Girling disc brakes at the front. This made the design more conventional than earlier models, but still retaining a distinctive design and relatively light weight.

Unfortunately for Berkeley the bank that was funding the company got nervous and called in a loan. Probably due to other companies in the caravan industry failing. This left Berkeley unable to continue so in 1961 the company was wound up. Ironically examination of the companies trading position in later years showed that the company was probably viable. Only 2 prototypes of Berkley Bandit were made. The second prototype got 1340cc Ford Classic engine. This car was sold in Dursley in 1966 for £798 and was last seen in Swindon in the late 1960s.

Although the Excelsior motorcycle company had managed to sell its engines to other micro car manufacturers none of these bought engines in the same quantities as Berkeley. So the demise of Excelsior followed that of Berkeley, however the Talisman engine continued to be produced by another company in water cooled form for marine use for several years afterwards.

Berkeley Bandit photos

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