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Obscure, Poorly Built, and Slow, the Gilbern Invader Still Best Welsh Car Ever

Alex Kierstein April 22, 2010 All Things Hoon 32 Comments

OK, so Gilbern was the only Welsh marque ever, but even so, just look at it! The Mustang-meets-Longchamp lines, the gaping maw inhaling a gryphon, the howling Essex six-pot up front … it’s positively nwydwyllt, in the local vowel-challenged tongue.

Gilbern’s first offering was the GT, a tube-framed number with Austin mechanicals and a glassfibre body. It was apparently flash enough to attract the attention of Prince Charles (well, look at Camila – the man has strange taste!), and Anthony Hopkins bought one while in London on what was assuredly a massive bender. Gilbern casually screwed together close to 500 cars before offering the Invader, based on the earlier Genie, but packing the aforementioned Ford V6 giving the 1,990 lbs car 140 HP and 180 ft-lbs of torque, although for some reason this was only good for a 10.7 second run up to 60. But hey, when you look as dapper as this Welshman in that synthetic suit, who needs to move quickly or not fall apart? And for the sporting set, there’s always the shooting brake version of the Invader to hold all your hounds, shotguns, and pieces of the car that inevitably fall off. Although, let me caution you that any Invader is not to be driven without wearing a couple of yards of tweed … you better just get over it and get some.

Looks bloody good, wot?

Bonus points for a and a wheel-spinning leek emblem (a la the Road Runner).

And to clarify, I’m taking the piss out of the Invader out of love … you can’t deny it was a heap of crap, but I would drive one in a heartbeat.

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  • "Gilbern casually screwed together close to 500 cars"

    That's gold. Pure gold.

  • The hip line on the shooting break is all kinds of sexy. If I wore panties, I'd be throwing them boyo. I don't even care if it was supposed to be straight. Now, which way is it to Aberystwyth?

  • That is a rarebit of automotive history.

    • Fiendishly clever; keep dreaming the dream.

  • dwegmull

    The owner of the shooting brake is both a hero for owning such an obscure wagon and a practical man (or woman, one can dream) for being a member of AA (the British equivalent to AAA).

  • I figured that was Alcoholics Anonymous, also a direct result of ownership.

  • tonyola

    The last cars (1972-1973) got a much tidier nose with a wider grille and higher bumper. The wheel arches were flared too. Gilbern died for two reasons – 1) the Value Added Tax (VAT) which was applied to kit cars in the early 1970s; and, 2) the company was taken over by a bigger conglomerate who were more interested in making slot machines than making a few low-profit (if any) sports cars.

  • I'm seeing a lot of Volvo there.

    • nofrillls

      That was my first thought. Too bad Volvo didn't offer "mags" like those.

      • Panasports do indeed improve the looks of an incredibly wide variety of cars.

  • Nicely done, sir. Nicely done.

  • vwminispeedster

    I saw in the body contour line a little Giulia… combined with some grille of a P1800… I like it.

  • I would def buy this plate, if I had this car.

    <img src=";

  • That is a fine example of a shooting brake. I would rally it.

  • Three observations:
    1) Far too many vowels in the name
    2) I'd definitely rock one
    3) If you get one, do not drive gentle into that good night

    • you can Welshify nearly any word by replacing its vowels with w's and y's, and v's with f's.

  • Great writeup. I remember seeing a few of these at car shows when I was a kid living in England and thinking they were neat.

  • BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ
  • I was thinking 140 series:
    <img src="; width=550>

    • Agreed. The similarity is most pronounced on the shooting brake, which even has the recessed door handles of the later cars.

      Nice photo, BTW. As a wee lad, my mom drove one very similar, albeit without Panasports or rollbar. Her's was mustard yellow.

    • BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ

      I got a weak spot for the 71/72 Volvo 142, but must have steel wheels with stainless wheel ring and hub cap. Have to scan some pictures of my old Volvos.

  • I love those. In case you don't remember, this is my Eleanor … and that color/stance is absolutely perfect.

  • nofrillls

    nwydwyllt – (adj.)

    Nicely Welsch, Yet Don't Wet Your Lilly-Livered Trousers.

    • I like it. Welsh acronyms … this could be the start of a highly obscure trend.

  • Fwscynwtyng. W shyll prwctycw thws twchnyqyw yt my lywsyre.

  • facelvega

    Actually, in its day and segment (though only the English counted tiny production cars like this and the Reliant Scimitar as part of a segment) the Invader was considered the most uncompromising sports car. Take a look at this 1970 Motor comparo,… which suggests considering the Invader "if you want outright performance with individuality." Of course the Invader placed last in the same comparison test, which supports "poorly-built" if not slow.

  • if i bought one and took it home, it would surely be the only Gilbern in the village!

  • somehow, looks like a Lancia or Alfa built by East Germans.

    • I was thinking ISO Rivolta by Walmart…(same idea, really)
      <img src=";

  • Sweet ,thank you for sharing .Such a wonderful post.

  • Thanks a lot for this unique write-up, I definitely will add this web site to my own s, a friend just informed me in regards to this yesterday. this may be the greatest

  • Tom

    I own a Gilbern Genie, like the one in the top photo. The earlier GT models were based on MG running gear. Later, Ford cut Gilbern a deal on new running gear such as the Sussex V6 3 litre engines. They were strong and tough and light weight. Many were, and still are, raced and rallyed. These wheels replaced the earlier wire wheels and were Gilbern design and the first alloy wheels offered as standard equipment on any production car. Giles and Bernard (Gil-Bern) originally wanted an Aston Martin. Couldn’t afford one so they designed and built their own tube-framed fibre-glass bodied touring cars.
    They were great in their day. They are still very good.

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