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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a gordon keeble from 1965 8211 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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  • 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.

  • Wjtinfwb How does the ICE mid-engine C8 platform work for... anything else? A sedan? SUV? With a mid engine configuration? A mid-engine SUV will have to be Suburban sized to offer the utility of a CRV. GM should dust off the Omega platform designed for the Cadillac CT6 for an SUV/Sedan offering with exceptional handling, Rear or AWD capability and acceptable space utilization. They also need to focus on interior fit & finish, trim choices and high quality final engineering and assembly. What GM doesn't need is another half-baked product with a storied and prestigious badge on the decklid and a premium price on the Monroney. No more Cimarron's, Allante's or X-cars needed to tarnish the reputation of Corvette.
  • InCogKneeToe BUILD It and they will come.By Build It, I mean a Vehicle that the Customer Wants and it works for them. It could be called Chevette for all that that matters. The Mach E's success isn't because it totes the Mustang on it.Just build what people want, the next Caravan/Taurus/Beetle/Maverick (truck).
  • YellowDuck Wait...how do you make a mid-engine crossover? Or even a 4-door coupe? Me not get.
  • 28-Cars-Later Thanks Corey. The head stud job on NOrthSTAR-T was $3K *years ago* as it involves an engine pull so rear wheel arch rust in and of itself isn't a show stopper. I'll be sure to check out the trunk as it may start to add up on deferred maintenance. Supposedly this was garaged so the underneath the rockers etc. should be decent but if those are shot its not gonna work.
  • Mark 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, G4NG engine with connecting rod bearing issues. Engine needs to be replaced, but Hyundai is denying warranty claim. I have all maintenance records from mile zero. It has been in Hyundai Service department 5 time in 4 months. They added the knock sensor and software update to let you know the engine is about to blow up. They kicked the can down the road doing patch work until the car was past the 120k extended extended warranty. I have that documentation too. So how can I join the class action law suit or find a Lawyer that handles these types of issues?
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