By on January 11, 2018

Image: 1965 Gordon-KeebleOur last Rare Ride was a convertible Cadillac by the name of Allanté. It mixed American power and engineering with a body designed in Italy. Today we take a look at something with the same sort of principles, but with the additional quirkiness of a British backstory.

And it’s much, much rarer than the Cadillac.

Image: 1965 Gordon-KeebleThe shapely graphite coupe you see before you is the Gordon-Keeble. Conceived by John Gordon and Jim Keeble, the duo desired to create an exciting new sports coupe. They had a four-seat coupe in mind, with a space-frame chassis, top speed of 140 mph, and a cross-continental collaboration mindset. The two men ran with their idea and did some international mélange-making.

Image: 1965 Gordon-KeebleFor the design, the pair turned to well-known design firm Bertone. The order landed on the desk of none other than 21-year-old Giorgetto Giugiaro. And not only is it a Giugiaro from before the ItalDesign era, but it is the first Giugiaro car design. This coupe matters.

Image: 1965 Gordon-KeebleThe unique turtle badge of the marque has a quaint story behind it. During the first photo shoot for the new Gordon-Keeble, a turtle walked into the frame of the shot. A slow turtle and a fast coupe would make for a delicious bit of badge irony, the owners thought.

Image: 1965 Gordon-Keeble

For the space under the sloping bonnet and behind the turtle, the duo contacted a company across the sea called General Motors. In 1960, Gordon and Keeble sent their completed prototype (which contained a Corvette 283 cubic inch V8) over to Detroit. Ed Cole at Chevrolet was rather impressed. He agreed to supply up to 1,000 Corvette 327 cubic inch V8 engines and accompanying transmissions for the production run of the Gordon-Keeble. This was the first official endorsement by GM for overseas shipment of components for a specialty car.

Image: 1965 Gordon-KeebleLike so many British shed corporations, however, trouble was already in the works for Gordon-Keeble. Suppliers needed for crafting the body were not easy to find, and adequate factory space not easy to come by. The design’s steel body panels were swapped for simpler fiberglass before production began, but it was near the end of 1963 and not a single car had been finished.

Factory space was finally found at an airfield, in a building formerly used to produce Spitfires for use in WWII. Production began in early 1964, but infighting between Gordon and the lead investor made for a rough time. There was simply no money, and a liquidation occurred after the company produced around 90 cars. In 1965, those new owners resumed production, but only managed to build a few more cars. Throughout 1966 and 1967, slow production amounted to 10 additional cars, bringing the total to an even 100.Image: 1965 Gordon-KeebleToday’s example is a 1965 model. It has been lovingly cared for, and is also the subject of an extensive 13-year restoration. Everything looks great, and the only modification to the car appears to be an automatic transmission (Gordon-Keebles came from the factory with manuals).

It’s yours for £89,950, or $121,734 George Washingtons.

[Images via seller]

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23 Comments on “Rare Rides: A Gordon-Keeble From 1965 – Turtles Love Them!...”



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