Gordon-Keeble Car manufacturer
London & Southampton England, UK
|Production||1963-1967 100 produced|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door saloon|
|Engine||5.4 litre (330CID) 300hp Chevrolet V-8|
|Transmission||4 speed manual|
|Wheelbase||102 inches (2591 mm)|
|Length||184 inches (4674 mm)|
|Width||68 inches (1727 mm)|
Gordon-Keeble was a British car marque, made first in Slough, then Eastleigh, in Southampton (all in England), between 1963 and 1967. The marque's badge was unusual in featuring a tortoise — a pet tortoise walked into the frame of an inaugural photo-shoot, taken in the grounds of the makers. Because of the irony (the slowness of tortoises) the animal was chosen as the emblem.
The Gordon-Keeble came about when John Gordon, formerly of the struggling Peerless company, and Jim Keeble got together in 1959 to make the Gordon GT car by fitting a Buick 215 c.i. (3.5 litre) V8 engine (the engine which would later be developed and used by Rover), into a chassis by Peerless. The car, still at the development stage, was then tried with a 4.6 litre Chevrolet (283 c.i.) V8 fitted into a square-tube steel spaceframe chassis, with independent front suspension and all-round disc brakes. The complete chassis was then taken to Turin, Italy, where a body made of aluminium panels designed by Giugiaro was built by Bertone. The car's four five-inch headlights were in the rare, slightly angled "Chinese eye" arrangement also used by a few other European marques, generally for high-speed cars such as Lagonda Rapide, Lancia Flaminia and Triumphs, as well as Rolls-Royce. The interior had an old luxury jet feel, with white on black gauges, toggle switches, and quilted aircraft PVC.
The car appeared on the Bertone stand in March 1960, branded simply as a Gordon, at the Geneva Motor Show. At that time problems with component deliveries had delayed construction of the prototype, which had accordingly been built at breakneck speed by Bertone in precisely 27 days. After extensive road testing the car was shipped to Detroit and shown to Chevrolet management, who agreed to supply Corvette engines and gearboxes for a production run of the car.
The car was readied for production with some alterations, the main ones being a larger 5.4 litre (327 c.i.) engine and a change from aluminium to a glass fibre body made by Williams & Pritchard Limited. Problems with suppliers occurred and before many cars were made the money ran out and the company went into liquidation. About 90 cars had been sold at what turned out to be an unrealistic price of £2798. Each car had two petrol tanks.
In 1965 the company was bought by Harold Smith and Geoffrey West and was re-registered as Keeble Cars Ltd. Production resumed, but only for a short time, the last car of the main manufacturing run being made in 1966. A final example was actually produced in 1967 from spares, bringing the total made to exactly 100. The Gordon-Keeble Owners' Club claim that over 90 examples still exist.
An attempt was made to restart production in 1968 when the rights to the car were bought by an American, John de Bruyne, but this came to nothing, although two cars badged as De Bruynes were shown at that year's New York Motor Show along with a new mid-engined coupé.