Produced between 1964 and 1966, the Gordon-Keeble was one of a select band of 1960s Grandes Routières that combined British chassis engineering with American horsepower and Italian style. Designed by John Gordon, lately of Peerless, and produced in collaboration with garage owner Jim Keeble, the car featured a spaceframe chassis with independent front suspension, De Dion rear axle and four-wheel disc brakes. Styled by the youthful Giorgetto Giugiaro, then at Carrozzeria Bertone, its elegant glassfibre bodywork was manufactured in England by Williams & Pritchard, one of the foremost firms specialising in this form of construction. A 327ci (5.4-litre) Chevrolet V8 engine provided effortless cruising and a top speed in the region of 140mph. Amazingly, the car went from drawing board to finished prototype in just four months.
The first Gordon GT was presented on Bertone’s stand at the Geneva Motor Show in 1960 where it caused a sensation. Unusually for a prototype, the car was tested by The Autocar magazine, which declared it ‘the most electrifying vehicle we ever tested’. With a 0-60mph time of six seconds and ‘the ton’ coming up just ten seconds later, the 140mph Gordon GT was one of the fastest road vehicles of its day. John Gordon took the prototype to Detroit where an agreement was reached with Chevrolet for the supply of engines to the British company. Actual production though, was still some way off and by the time the renamed Gordon-Keeble went on sale in 1964, its specification and performance were no longer so unusual.
Nevertheless, these ingredients should have been the recipe for guaranteed success but the company failed to get its pricing right and production ceased after little more than a year. A prolonged strike at Adwest, makers of the steering box, and resulting delays in component deliveries was another contributing factor in Gordon-Keeble’s demise. A brief revival saw a few more cars assembled by the successor company but when finally the end came, only 99 cars, all right-hand drive, had been produced. (A 100th was assembled from spares some time later). It is estimated that all but a tiny handful survive. Today the stylish Gordon-Keeble remains a fascinating ‘might-have-been’ that can only become increasingly collectible.
The car on offer today was owned by an Astronomer from Cheshire, and later acquired by Michael Erik Mak, a Hong-Kong business man who decided to corner the market in Gordon Keebles.
Chassis 36 was purchased by the current vendor in 2003, after a restoration which involved both Ernie Knott and Ivan Dutton – a world class Bugatti restorer. The car on offer today can only be described as in excellent condition and now has to be arguably the finest example available anywhere worldwide.
Fitted with the desirable manual gearbox, and with over £100,000 spent, the car has recently been presented at Cartier and Goodwood, and is offered with FIVA papers. Appearing as it did back at the launch in 1960, this is a true collector’s piece with an exacting restoration to the highest detail.