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Berkeley Bandit - (1960)

Berkeley Cars Limited of Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, England produced small three and four wheeled cars between 1956 and 1960. Most of these vehicles used motorcycle-derived engines from 322cc to 692cc and were front wheel drive.

The novel sportscar designs by Lawrie Bond were produced 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, and were looking for something to fill the gaps in the very seasonal caravan market.

Laurie Bond's design 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. Berkeley carried on their motorcyle engined cars until 1960, when with increasing competition in the small sports car market especially from cars such as the Austin Healey Sprite, Berkeley decided to produce a totally new car.

Berkeley Bandit 1

The Berkeley Bandit was launched at the 1960 Motor show. It was designed by John Tojeiro and used the mechanicals and 997cc engine from the Ford Anglia 105E.  The car had a combination steel and aluminium chassis with the usual Berkeley fibreglass body. Unusually for a Berkeley the drive was to the rear wheels, and the suspension at the rear was through a swing axle layout with coil-over-shock absorbers acting directly on the rear hubs. This was achieved by modifying the Ford rear axle to provide two short drive shafts connecting through a pair of universal joints giving full movement of the wheels whilst the differential could be held stationary. The car had disk brakes at the front and drums at the back.

Berkeley Bandit 2

Only two prototypes were produced; the original Motor Show and press car, with registration number 700CNM has since been restored, whilst the second prototype car registered YRX292, was last seen in Swindon in the late 1960’s. The car was to have sold for 798.

Unfortunately the caravans market collapsed towards the end of 1960, and Berkeley's slumping sales forced the company into liquidation. The company went officially bankrupt in February 1961 and was wound up

  Berkeley Bandit
Production 1960:
2 Built
Bodystyle Two-seater sports
Engine 997cc Ford 105E
Engine position Front
Driven wheels Rear

Only 2 Berkeley Bandit models were produced before the Company was wound up.

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