Gilbern cars History
Llantwit Fardre, Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales
|Headquarters||Llantwit Fardre, Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales|
|Key people||Giles Smith, Founder Bernard Friese, Founder|
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.
In 1968, following a search for a cash injection, Gilbern was taken over by Ace Capital Holdings Ltd, whose main business was the manufacture of slot machines. Following the takeover Giles Smith left the company to be replaced by Mike Leather and Maurice Collins as joint managing directors. In 1970 Ace was bought by entertainment group Mecca Ltd, who sold the company to Maurice Collins; in 1972 he in turn sold it to Mike Leather.
The cars were expensive for the time and became more so with taxation changes that added Value Added Tax to kit cars. Production ceased in 1973.
A one-off concept car, the T11, was produced, just prior to the company's closure, and was restored in 2009-10, appearing in some classic car articles in early 2010.
Timeline For Gilbern Cars
Gilbern GT (1959-1967)
Gilbern Genie (1966-1969)
Gilbern Invader (1969-1973)
T11 Concept (1970)