BABY BERKELEY A RARE THOROUGHBRED

IT’S tiny and cute, it will appear at the Shannons Show n Shine at the Leyburn Sprints - but, no, it isn’t The Dart.

 

Gold Coast car enthusiast Bevan Fleming will debut his most unusual Berkeley sports car at Leyburn on Sunday.

 

Even some veteran Leyburn regulars say they have not heard of Berkeley cars, which were built for just four years in Bedfordshire, England.

 

Although the business was short-lived, it built cars that were superior to the usual microcar concepts of the time.

 

This Berkeley model SE492 comes with a three-cylinder, two-stroke Excelsior motorcycle engine of 492 cubic centimetres, which produces just 30 horsepower.

 

But thanks to its extremely light weight – around 300 kg – and efficient streamlining it’s said to be capable of almost 130 kmh.

 

Lightness comes from an advanced-design monocoque fiberglass body, which unusually does not have a separate chassis. It was a concept to which Berkeley beat the highly successful Lotus Elite sports car by a year.

 

Fleming bought the car from Florida about a year ago and the time since its arrival has been spent preparing for its Leyburn debut and to, eventually, get it registered for Queensland roads.

 

“A fellow I knew sent me a list of cars for sale in Florida, including the Berkeley. I liked the look of it and its condition, so I thought I’d give it a go. I’m very pleased with it,” Fleming said.

 

“I’m told it was raced at Le Mans (in France) but I haven’t been able to confirm that. I’ve joined the Berkeley Club in England and they’re trying to find out more about the car for me.”

 

Fleming is yet to drive his new pride-and-joy and may yet be in for a challenge.

 

“I’m 6 ft 5 in (almost two metres) and I don’t know if I’ll fit,” he said.

 

The Berkeley and dozens of other glamorous, exotic or unusual cars will be on display at the Shannons Show n Shine on Sunday.

 

Trophies will be awarded in several categories and car owners can enter the competition for the price of the event entry ticket, $15.


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