Gilbern


Classic Gilbern Tyres

On the following pages, Longstone Classic Tyres give classic tyre fitment recommendations for Gilbern cars.


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Gilburn History

Gilbern Sports Automobiles Ltd was formed in 1959 by Giles Smith (formerly a butcher) and Bernard Friese, a German engineer with competence in glass fibre mouldings, and was one of the few cars built in Wales. Friese had built a one-of-a-kind car for himself, and the two partners utilised it as the foundation for the first Gilbern vehicle. The original location was a small workshop in Church Village, Pontypridd, but when manufacturing began, the company relocated to the ancient Red Ash Colliery in adjacent Llantwit Fardre. Initially, the automobiles were only offered as kits, but subsequently, full cars were also available.

Gilburn Invader III

Gilbern was a combination of the first three letters of founder Giles Smith's name and the first four letters of his co-founder Bernard Friese's name. Gilberns have frequently competed in the Wiscombe Park Hillclimb, where they first appeared in 1962 under the control of an Aston Martin Owners Club member. Gilbern was recognised as a member of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders in 1965, and the firm was, therefore, able to have a booth at the British International Motor Show at Earls Court.

Following a fund injection search, Gilbern was acquired in 1968 by Ace Capital Holdings Ltd, whose main business was the production of slot machines. Following the takeover, Mike Leather and Maurice Collins took over as joint managing directors, replacing Giles Smith. Ace was purchased by the entertainment conglomerate Mecca Ltd in 1970, who then sold it to Maurice Collins, who in turn sold it to Mike Leather in 1972.

The automobiles were pricey for the period, and they got even more so once tax amendments introduced Value Added Tax to kit cars. The T11 was a one-off concept car constructed right before the company's collapse, and it was restored in 2009–10, appearing in various vintage car publications in early 2010.


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