1968 GILBERN Genie

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1968 GILBERN Genie



Gilbern Sports Cars Ltd was a joint venture between Giles Smith, a Welsh butcher, and Bernard Friese, a German engineer and ex-prisoner of war.

Their first car was launched in 1959 from a shed behind his butcher’s shop, an inauspicious start but one that quickly established the firm as one of the leading sports car makers of their time.

Named after the founders (GILes and BERNard), Gilbern established itself using a canny combination of a steel chassis, a fibreglass body and mechanical components taken from volume manufacturers like Austin-Healey, MG, and Ford. Designed for final assembly at home, a weekend’s work allowed its owner to dodge the purchase tax they’d otherwise have had to pay on their new car.

The second model launched was the Genie, like the one you see here. Offered between 1966 and 1969, a total of 197 examples were built. Powered by either the Ford 2.5-litre or 3.0-litre Essex V6, a square-section spaceframe chassis provided support for a bonded fibreglass bodyshell. The result is a light and stiff framework that provided a firm base for the suspension, which came from the Austin-Healey 3000 initially (which meant the car got wire wheels) and later the MGB, to do its stuff.

Two-plus-two seating and decent luggage space made it an effective family saloon, although that engine and suspension also conspired to provide a hugely enjoyable chassis and sparkling performance. How sparkling? Well, with 136bhp at its disposal, the Genie was a genuine 120mph car.

In total, 197 Genies were built. It’s replacement, the Invader, sold another 603 and if you’re interested in acquiring the pair, the seller has one of those listed with us, too.

The Vehicle

With just two former keepers, this Gilbern Genie was first registered in April 1968 and has been in the care of its enthusiast owner since 2008.

A man who enjoys the doing as much as the driving, it was retro-restored over a period of a few years from boxes of bits. Now powered by a Vauxhall Omega quad-cam 24-valve 3.0-litre V6 engine and a matching five-speed manual gearbox, it goes much better than ever before.

He did all the work himself except the painting and re-upholstering the front seats, which allowed him to get everything exactly as he wanted it. The result is a unique Gilbern Genie in which his love for the marque shines through.

A rare opportunity to buy a hand-built sporting saloon that combines a modern engine and gearbox with period elegance, it’s also got a bloomin’ dragon on the front, which is so much cooler than a prancing pony, surely?

On the Outside

Originally a deep burgundy, it is now finished in a vibrant and very of-the-period green. As a result, it reeks of 1960s cool from a few metres.

Because, while rust in the body panels isn’t a concern, it does show a fair amount of crazing, cracking, peeling, and discoloration to the paint; but, respraying it would be straightforward as you won’t have any corrosion to address.

Nor will you have panel alignment on your list of jobs because this one hangs together very well.

As does the chrome, which is good in places, and a little pitted and rusty in others. The front bumper supports a pair of matching Lucas spot lamps, which give the Genie a surprisingly sporting visage. (Mind you, the presence of that dragon doesn’t do it any harm, does it?)

The 15-inch alloy wheels are undamaged and free of scuffs, but could, perhaps, do with freshening up when you get the car resprayed. The tyres, on the other hand, are matching Continentals that all have good tread.

We will never get tired of telling you that experience shows that matching high-quality tyres are an infallible sign of a caring and mechanically sympathetic owner who is prepared to spend the appropriate amount in maintaining their car properly. Their presence does not, of course, preclude the need for a thorough inspection - something the vendor would welcome, by the way – but it does perhaps give you a shortcut into their attitude towards maintenance.

The boot features both Welsh dragon and union flag badges, plus a third for Gilbern in the centre of the rear bumper. There’s a GB plate too, plus, of course, another dragon. (If you had one on your national flag you’d boast about it too, wouldn’t you?)

On the Inside

The restoration saw the seats being retrimmed and new trim, including the headlining and dashboard, installed. As you can see, there is barely any creasing to the seats and the whole cabin still looks splendid, even a decade later.

A neatly integrated Smiths analogue and digital speedometer tracks your progress, and it’s flanked by six matching instruments that cover engine revs, fuel level, water temperature, time, oil pressure, and battery voltage. An aftermarket AEM gauge fitted lower down shows the air/fuel ratio.

Two alloy panels hold the controls for various electrical items, with the lower panel taking care of the heating. We’ve tried the electrics and they all seem to work.

Other delights include a chrome map light, alloy pedal covers, a wonderfully tactile Springalex steering wheel, a battery cut-out switch, electric windows, a diagnostics port and a roll cage that covers the rear of the cabin.

Flaws? Well, there is an air of light patination to the interior and if you can live with that then the only things that stick out are the driver’s door card, which is a little stained (#136).

Oh, and there is a smell of petrol in the boot. We can’t see any leaks and think it may be due to the filler neck being exposed but because of the potential risk, we’d advise the winning bidder to make their own investigation before starting and using it.


The original engine and gearbox had been sold off when the vendor bought the car, which was no hardship as he’d always intended to fit something newer and more reliable – and if it offered a bit more power then who was he to complain?

A Vauxhall Omega donated its quad-cam, 24-valve, 3.0-litre engine and five-speed manual ‘box, while Megasquirt supplied the standalone ECU to control the fuel and ignition. A lot of hard work saw the unit installed with a custom propshaft, engine and gearbox mounts, wiring harness, and exhaust plus refurbished suspension and braking components. A custom-built alloy radiator was fitted and linked to the engine with Omega hoses.

The result is a rolling road-verified 235 bhp and 210 lb.ft of torque, which isn’t bad in a car that weights only a tonne. He’s used it for the past ten years and enjoyed every minute, even stretching its legs into Europe on occasion. Care is needed, he tells, us, because if you dump the clutch at full revs the limitations of the standard rear axle quickly become apparent…

As you can see, it starts well and shows good oil pressure. It revs as it should, ticks over nicely and has a helluva exhaust note.

The car drives well but we did notice a whine coming from the engine, which will need exploring. The vendor thinks the "alternator belt needs adjustment".

The underside is good and solid but some of the paint is peeling away, so that could do with being wire-brushed and touched-up.

History Highlights

The Genie’s MoT certificate is valid until July 2023 and it was gained, like every bar 2016, with no advisories, which is quite the record, isn’t it?

It comes with a photo album of the respray and restoration, plus a bunch of old MoT certificates. There is also a copy of Practical Performance Car from May 2013 in which this very car features.

The recent Vehicle History Check is clear.

What We Think

It’s not perfect but then if it were we’d be estimating it at far more than the £6,000-10,000 we think this one will fetch.

What it is is something far more interesting; it’s a project you can run around in until you know where you want to end up; either keep it as it is and enjoy a wonderfully fast and reliable street sleeper (remember, only one advisory point since records began…) or smarten it up with a respray and some TLC and trot it round the show circuit where you’ll be the hero of the hour.

But, no matter what you think you might end up doing with it you really should pop in a cheeky bid because the owner has such faith in his car that he’s offering it with no reserve, so it’s going to sell from the very first bid.

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

Bidders MUST ensure they are aware of the registration situation of a car in auction, and whether it will be possible to export/register a vehicle in their country BEFORE they bid.

All vehicles MUST BE COLLECTED WITHIN 7-DAYS of the auction end. Storage fees of £180 + VAT apply (per week) thereafter without exception.

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage can offer you options, plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping both domestic and international.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we always encourage bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using basic cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen (Caveat Emptor) and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, a return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 15288
  • Chassis Number: G1045
  • Engine: 3000 cc
  • Gearbox: Manual
  • Steering position: Right-hand drive
  • Colour: Green
  • Interior: Black Vinyl
  • Estimated Price: £6,000 - £10,000

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