Gilbern cars were made in Llantwit Fardre, Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales between 1959 and 1973.
Gilbern Sports Cars (Components) Ltd was founded by Giles Smith, a butcher, 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 Fadre. 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.
The Gilbern Invader, introduced in July 1969 and based on the Gilbern Genie but with improved chassis and larger brakes. The front suspension now came from the MGC and the chassis was strengthened. It took the brand further up-market with fittings such as electric windows and walnut-veneered dashboard. The Gilbern Invader was available as a complete car and from 1970 an estate version (aka Shooting Brake, or, station wagon to Americans) was also produced. Automatic or manual transmission with overdrive were available. It was updated to the Mk II version in 1971.
Launched in September 1972, the Gilbern Invader Mk III version had a Ford Cortina front suspension and was restyled front and rear. The engine was the higher tune unit from the Ford Capri 3000GT. The body was produced using new moulds and was both wider and lower than that of the earlier Invader. Track was extended by four inches (10 cm). The wider axle led to wheel spats being added to the sides of the car. At the back the live rear axle was located by trailing links and a Panhard rod: adjustable shock absorbers were fitted all round.
Gilbern ceased production in 1973 after a change to the UK's tax laws.
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