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Monday, January 23, 2012

Royal Enfield powered Berkeley sports car

1959 Berkeley needed hood bulge to clear the big Royal Enfield motor.
A sports car powered by a Royal Enfield motor is for sale on CraigsList in Los Angeles, Calif. The 1959 Berkeley B-95 is a fiberglass body on an aluminum frame and it is outfitted for the race track — surely the only safe place for an automobile that weighs just 850 pounds!

Jorge Pullin's blog, My Royal Enfields, tell us that Berkeley Cars Ltd. of Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, England produced small cars between 1956 and 1960.  Some were three-wheelers designed to be registered at motorcycle tax rates, but some few were marvelous mini sports cars with four wheels. The B-95 was named in honor of its supposed top speed.

The heart of the Berkeley was a big Royal Enfield twin.
This one is one of 12 left-hand-drive models ever made out of only 200 or so produced. It is said to be completely restored and ready for the museum or vintage racing. It has been for sale for some time at race-cars.com where I found the photos shown here.

The ad specifies that it has the original 750 Royal Enfield (Interceptor?) engine but sources online say the original B-95 motor was the 692cc Royal Enfield Super Meteor power plant. Graham Scarth, chairman of the Royal Enfield Owners Club, advised that "the original engine in a B-95 would have been a 700cc Super Meteor unit with an SMTB prefix, so if it is a 750, it's a replacement engine!"

The bulging bodywork was criticized at the time, but looks suitably muscular today.
Presumably the transmission is still the Albion transmission that Berkeley provided, modified to include a reverse gear.

The cars had front-wheel drive.

This version is left-hand drive; instruments are in center.
I have a genuine fondness for small sports cars. As a college student in the 1970s I was privileged to have the use of my brother Phil's 1966 MG Midget while he served our country in the U.S. Army.

The Midget's razor sharp steering knew what I wanted to do before my cerebral cortex did. Its transmission was — excuse me — better than sex — and you got to experience it way more often. The Midget's 1,100cc pushrod engine sang like the choirs of Heaven. It produced close to no power, whatsoever.

Surprisingly tasteful despite the blood red color.
The beauty of driving the Midget was that you were always putting F1-level effort into only just keeping up with traffic. No one else, the police included, knew that you were going at 8/10s all the time. It was great fun just to take to the grocery store.

I've never driven a Berkeley and would very much like to hear from anyone who has. It must be a remarkable experience.
Safer on the racetrack than on the highway?

4 comments:

  1. Impossible to comment on this beauty without using expletives,so I'll have to censor myself...that's the coolest @#$%ing thing that I've ever seen...I'll bet that @&#%er will really fly,and look @#$%ing GREAT doing it...HOLY @#$%...I want one!

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  2. Royal Enfield powered Berkeley sports car is one of the best cars which I want to buy for comfortable life. I must appreciate this article, A sports car powered by a Royal Enfield motor is for sale on CraigsList in Los.
    Nushrattamim

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  3. Not only have I driven both the B95 AND B105 versions (the latter with the RE Super Constellation engine) but I owned a B95, bought new in 1959. I kept it for a year, and raced it.

    With way over 100bhp per ton it was VERY quick, beating any production MG or TR in a straight line to 100mph. Brakes were of course drum and faded, and the handling was eccentric. The weight on the rear wheels was such that youi could pick up the back and walk sideways into a parking space! Power-off into a corner and the rear swing axles would "tuck in" reducing the track inducing a spin. So you always braked in a straight line and power on through the bends.

    I loved it!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for filling us in. Great details!

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