1959 - 1973

Gilbern

Information about Gilbern

Gilbern, Wales’ claim to automotive fame, was founded in 1959 by an unlikely duo: Giles Smith, a local butcher, and Bernard Friese, a German engineer proficient in fibreglass craftsmanship. The brand’s name, Gilbern, is a portmanteau of the founders’ first names. Their venture began humbly in a shed behind Smith’s butcher shop in Church Village, near Pontypridd, where they crafted the Gilbern GT, their inaugural model. This car stood out for its use of Austin and Austin-Healey mechanical components, encapsulated within a distinct fibreglass body.

The GT initially launched as a kit car but its success led to the production of fully assembled versions. By the mid-1960s, Gilbern had expanded its lineup with the introduction of the Gilbern Genie and later the Gilbern Invader—both models reflecting a move towards more spacious and powerful vehicles equipped with Ford V6 engines. Despite their innovative designs and the introduction of models like the Invader Mark III, the company faced financial challenges and ceased operations in 1974.

Though Gilbern was short-lived, its legacy endures through a dedicated owners’ community and its historical significance as a uniquely Welsh car manufacturer. The company’s journey from a quaint village setup to a producer of admired sports cars highlights a remarkable chapter in British automotive history.

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