Gilbern Invader Estate

Car of the Day #39: 1970 Gilbern Invader Estate

Gilbern Invader Estate
Period Gilbern advertisement touting "magnetic handling" and "surging power"

From Wales with love, this sports wagon was a curious amalgam of parts from all over…to know this car, you must know Gilbern itself. And Wales. Since I don't know either, it'll be a fun Car of the Day. 

Started in 1959, Gilbern was the project of Giles Smith, a butcher, and Bernard Friese, a former German POW who never bothered to return to his homeland after the Second World War. Both sound like the kind of no-nonsense people you'd want running a car company.

Gilbern (Gil)es and (Bern)ard, working near the Welsh town of Pontypridd, decided to create their own glass fibre sports cars. As production expanded, they moved into a disused mining facility, the Red Ash Colliery. 

By 1961, a small team was up and running, producing a handsome component car called the Gilbern GT. 

A period advertisement showing how the car arrived at an assembly point.

Wait, what's a component car? Well, Gilbern models were always finished and sent to their owners minus the engine, gearbox, rear axle, wheels, and exhaust. 

This meant that the styling, interior, and overall build quality could be completed at much better quality. A kit car includes many of those same parts, but I’m not sure where kit cars end and component cars begin — the best advice is always to inspect an individual car and try to learn about its foibles.

Think of these cars as a modern pre-fabricated home…with a wall or two missing.

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