Rare Rides: A Gordon-Keeble From 1965 – Turtles Love Them!

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a gordon keeble from 1965 turtles love them

Our 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.

The 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.

For 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.

The 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.

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.

Like 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.

Today’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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2 of 23 comments
  • W210Driver W210Driver on Jan 12, 2018

    I am probably in the minority but I do not find this car to be good-looking at all. To me it comes across as rather bland for some reason.

  • IBx1 IBx1 on Jan 12, 2018

    A 13 year restoration on a car with only 100 produced and they give it a vasectomy with that automatic. For shame.

  • Tassos The EQS is the best looking BEV, better than even the only Tesla I would ever consider (the S) and more luxurious inside etc etcThe self driving features will come in handy when I'm 110 and my eyesight and reaction times start to suffer.But that's four decades away, and only Tim recommends 40 year old "used cars"
  • Tassos "Baby, Baby light my fire!""Oh God please give me a Kia Forte" --Janis Joplin
  • Tassos The fugly looks of any Subaru, and especially the non-sporty non-elegant, fugly, low-rent looks and interior of the WRX are alone a sufficient turnoff to never want to own one.One can be a 100% car enthusiast but ALSO demand a beautiful AND luxurious vehicle one can be truly proud of and which makes one very happy every time one drives it.The above is obviously totally foreign to Subaru Designers and managers.Αnd who cares if they sell all they make? this is 100% worthless bragging, since they hardly make ANY. ALL of Subaru's models together, all dozen of them, sell less than the top selling Toyota or Honda or even Tesla sells. ANd furthermore, if you have the intellectual horsepower to understand it, bulldude, which I am 99% sure you sure as hell do not, it is NOT about the sales units, it is not even about the sales revenue.It is all about the P R O F I T S.Am I going slow enough for you, bulldude?
  • Thehyundaigarage Am I the only one that sees a Peugeot 508?
  • Lou_BC I realized it wasn't EV's burning by the absence of the usual suspects.