1964 GORDON KEEBLE GK1 SaloonView vehicle description
Produced between 1964 and 1966, the Gordon-Keeble was one of a select band of 1960’s GTs that combined British chassis engineering with American horsepower and Italian style.
Yes, it was American muscle wearing a hand-made Italian suit, but its characteristics, personality and sense of humour were uniquely British, as evidenced by the following paragraph taken from the pages of the owner’s handbook.
“DON'T start up a cold engine and then leave it idling while you rush indoors to pay a belated farewell to your wife. In the interests of minimum engine wear, skip the farewell and drive away. When facing the music on your return in the evening, make a mental note henceforth to adopt a definite sequence of events prior to your morning departure. You will achieve substantially diminished wear from your engine, and deserve greater affection from your wife.”
Designed by John Gordon, lately of Peerless, and produced in collaboration with garage owner Jim Keeble, the car featured a spaceframe chassis with independent front suspension, De Dion rear axle, and four-wheel disc brakes.
Styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro at Bertone, its elegant glassfibre bodywork was manufactured in England by Williams & Pritchard, one of the foremost firms specialising in this form of construction.
The Gordon-Keeble’s emblem is a tortoise. During the inaugural photoshoot for the first car in 1963, a pet tortoise wandered into the midst of the proceedings.
Messrs Gordon and Keeble were quick to see the marketing potential in an ironical juxtaposition of a very fast car and a famously slow creature.
This story may or may not be apocryphal. We really hope it’s true.
A 327ci (5.4-litre) Chevrolet V8 engine provided effortless cruising and a top speed in the region of 140mph. All of which ought to have been a recipe for success, but the company failed to get its pricing right (they were selling them too cheaply) and production ceased after little more than a year.
A brief revival saw a few more cars assembled, but when the end finally came, just 99 had been produced (the 100th was put together some time later).
Today the Gordon-Keeble remains an idiosyncratic and achingly stylish car that can only become increasingly collectible.
Chassis 39 is very well-known to Gordon-Keeble enthusiasts and GKOC (Gordon-Keeble Owners Club) members.
This glorious car has been restored and upgraded to offer optimal performance, handling, ride quality and comfort.
It is widely considered to be the ultimate expression of what the Gordon-Keeble might have become had the stars aligned a little more favourably.
It is, quite simply, unparalleled.
We have driven the car and can attest to the fact that it starts on the button, picks up pace with impressive enthusiasm, goes around corners with reassuringly predictable accuracy, and stops when you tell it to.
It really doesn’t feel like a 1960’s car.
It is balanced, nimble and responsive. Everything feels perfectly weighted – neither too light nor too heavy. Frankly, it’s a pleasure to drive.
And that big V8 makes a wondrously throaty, snorting burble that’s sure to have you grinning from ear to ear within seconds of firing it up.
Chassis 39 had been living a relatively normal life until it was bought by Brian Ansell, who wanted to retain the look of the car from the 1960s whilst improving the performance, handling, general mechanicals and comfort to the point where the car could be driven daily and, every now again, taken on a blast through France.
The car was handed over to the revered Gordon-Keeble-whisperer Ernie Knott in 1990. Ernie, who owned a coachworks and repair workshop, set up the Gordon-Keeble Centre for repair and development at Brackley. He had established the GKOC in 1970 and subsequently managed to trace all of the cars that had been produced.
The work that followed took two years, cost £120,712.71 and has been described as the ‘mother, father, sun, moon and stars of all restorations and upgrades’.
Ernie decided that what was required was a body-off restoration and a painstaking, meticulous reconsideration of every aspect of the car.
Changes and upgrades included the brakes (tandem master cylinder), steering rack (rack & pinion), steering column (modified universal joint), power steering, uprated engine (350 cu.in Chevrolet, electronic ignition, Holly carb) and an uprated automatic gearbox (350 turbo hydromatic). The full list is much, much longer.
Added creature comforts included central locking, increased internal ventilation, a burr elm centre consul and a state-of-the-art sound system.
There are extensive notes detailing the lengths Ernie went to in order to prevent the fibreglass body adversely influencing the sound quality.
The car was re-upholstered and trimmed in Connolly Poppy Red hide with thick Wilton carpets.
The result of this Herculean labour of love was, and is, the best handling and most luxurious Gordon-Keeble in existence.
In the past 24 months the current owner has thoroughly recommissioned the car, refurbished or replaced anything that needed refurbishing or replacing, and repainted the car in Aston Martin Cumberland Grey.
Over £30,000 has been spent in this period, retaining Ernie’s superb mechanical upgrades whilst externally presenting as a factory original car.
On the Outside
The Gordon-Keeble is a classy and stylish looking car in any hue or shade.
In our opinion, the metallic grey paintwork on this example lifts it into an altogether loftier category of elegance and refinement.
This car looks sensational from every angle.
The bodywork is pretty much pristine and there are no dinks, dents, scrapes, scuffs, nicks or chip of any note to speak of.
The paintwork has a very impressive depth of shine and lustre.
The wheels and matching tyres look as good as new.
All the external trim looks fine, as does the chrome work.
The lights, lenses and badging are all in first-class condition.
The passenger-side door might need a turn or two from a screwdriver to get it sitting perfectly flush with the bodywork.
On the Inside
The good news continues unabated on the inside, where the red hide upholstery provides the perfect colour contrast with the cool grey of the exterior.
The front seats are in very good condition, with just some light creasing to show here and there.
The rear seats, unsurprisingly, seem to have lived an even easier life.
The quilted leather on the door cards and the sides of the centre console has held up equally well.
The carpets and mats are in excellent condition, as is the headlining.
The burr elm veneers on the dashboard and centre console are mainly excellent, but there are one or two grazes and cracks in evidence.
The steering wheel, with its splendid tortoise emblem on the boss, is in fine fettle, as is the gear selector, instrument cluster and the array of toggles, switches, dials, levers and knobs on the dashboard.
As far as we can tell, everything electrical does what it’s meant to do.
The boot, which features a spare wheel under the floor, is as pristine as the rest of the vehicle. The important bits of the car’s very chunky hi-fi system are tucked away at the back of the boot.
Lifting up the carpets here, or anywhere else on this splendid car, reveals nothing to worry about whatsoever, as far as we can see.
The undersides of the car appear to have great deal of structural integrity and are seemingly untroubled by either time or use.
Everything looks solid, honest and straight.
The engine bay is pretty much immaculate. Everything seems to be clean and dry and in its right and proper place.
The car’s mileage today is 17,100.
On the occasion of its last MoT in June 2014, the mileage was recorded as being 16,302.
Reassuringly, this car has more history than Hampton Court Palace. Far too much to list or describe here, in fact.
Two substantial history files accompany chassis 39, documenting all of the work completed by the current owner over the last two years, all the work done by Ernie and his team from 1990 – 1992, and all manner of letters, cuttings, articles, bills, invoices, receipts, MoTs, tax discs, etc.
Everything that’s been refurbished, restored or replaced is meticulously documented and archived.
It’s really very obvious that everything - from the engine, gearbox, brakes and suspension to the bodywork, electrics and upholstery - has been properly, obsessively and expensively sorted out and screwed down.
The car comes with its original driver’s manual (with instructions on how best to manage your wife).
Please visit the documents section of the gallery of this listing where you will find photos of this and other paperwork to support our claim that this car has been maintained to a very good standard.
If you’d like to inspect the car prior to placing a bid – something we would encourage – then please use the Contact Seller button to arrange an appointment.
What We Think
Only 100 Gordon-Keebles were ever made.
These are seriously rare cars.
But this one – chassis 39 – is utterly unique.
It is the Gordon Keeble of Gordon-Keebles, the ultimate iteration of the model, the example that sets the standard to which all others aspire.
No, really, it is.
It looks fabulous, drives superbly and all of the heavy lifting (and spending) has been done by other people.
If you’re holding out in the hope of finding a better one, you’re wasting your time.
We’re happy to offer this vehicle for auction with an estimate in the range of £90,000 - £120,000.
Viewing is always encouraged. This particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays between 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’.
If needed, please remember we have a network of suppliers we work with regularly including finance and storage companies, plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.
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 never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles 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 simple 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 and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, 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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