the Production Gordon Keeble
Notwithstanding the success of the Gordon GT, it was another 4 years before the Gordon-Keeble went into production. John Gordon had by this time left the project and the car was renamed to give Jim Keeble credit for his work in the design of the car. Financier George Wansbrough was now the Chairman of the Company. He knew that for the car to be financially viable, it had to be made in relatively large numbers and for this to be achieved, he needed to attract major backers. Unfortunately, as we know, attempts to find major financial support for the project failed and in the end, George Wansbrough took the courageous decision to use family money to get the car into production.
The production car (GK 1) differed significantly from the prototype, chiefly in that the bodies were made from glass fibre re-inforced plastic and fabricated on site.
The Chevrolet engine of 4.6 litre capacity from the prototype was no longer available and so the new 5.4 litre 327cu.in. small block V8 was adopted. It had been hoped to use rack-and-pinion steering but supplies of a suitable system could not be obtained and so a steering box was employed. - ironically, the lack of steering boxes was to play a major part in the eventual demise of the car. In an effort to keep costs down, the interior of the car was trimmed in plastic instead of leather.
The cars were initially priced at just under £3000 each and sold as fast as they could be made. Production was running at approximately 3 cars per week but in early 1965, a strike at Adwest - makers of the steering boxes - meant a backlog of unfinished cars and this ruined the cash-flow, leading directly to the demise of the Company despite the best efforts of George Wansbrough and Jim Keeble.
In mid 1965, Harold Smith approached Geoffrey West and between them, they purchased the factory from the liquidators and after many initial difficulties, production was resumed. The new Company - Keeble Cars Ltd. - was incorporated in July 1965. Later, the Company moved to Sholing and the first car produced there was chassis No.92 and the last was chassis No.98in the summer of 1966. Keewest Developments Ltd took over the servicing of the cars. One further car was built in 1967 and given chassis No.99. A further (and final) car was completed from parts in 1971 and known as chassis No.100. Ernie Knott, who owned a coachworks and repair workshop came on the scene in 1969 and organised a repair and development facility at Brackley. He also established the Gordon Keeble Owners Club in 1970 and managed to trace all the 100 cars that had been produced. The combined servicing, repairs and restoration provided by Keewest and Enotts Coachworks is primarily responsible for the very high survival rate of these cars with 95% still in existence after 50 years. In June 2014, to celebrate the 50th anniversary, 48 G-K cars from the UK and Western Europe gathered in Hampshire
The first production car - Chassis No 1
The Gordon Keeble Owners Club Official Website