4,690 Miles? 1958 Berkeley SE328

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While there’s a little bit of conflicting information regarding this car, we do know it’s a Berkeley SE328, which was produced from January 1957 through April 1958 (this is a 1958) and it’s got the “export spec” raised headlight pods. It’s located in Wheat Ridge, Colorado and is listed for sale here on eBay, where bidding is starting at $3,000 with a reserve higher than that. 

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The seller tells us that the car has been off the road since 1968, but the Colorado license plates say 1960, so it may even be longer than that. I’m surprised to see all the bumpers, wheel covers, badges and hinges present, and while the square mesh grille that is usually present has gone missing, that doesn’t look like a hard part to reproduce if need be. Or you can buy one here from Kip Motors for a little over $350. Actually, I was surprised at the number of parts that are available.

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Believe it or not, tops and side curtains are also available, although they’re a little pricey. However–are you really going to drive this car with the top up? I think it would live in my garage and come out on sunny days only.

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Here’s what you’d be looking at; with only one crack, that steering wheel is a treat, and it looks like everything is still there. I’d love to know exactly how that gear shift works, but since it’s on the floor we know this is one of the latter SE328’s anyway. As a matter of fact, this is chassis #1389, and SE328 production ended with chassis 1422, so it’s really close to the end of the line.

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In case you were wondering, the SE328 got its name from the Excelsior inline twin 328cc engine it used. The engine looks clearly to be the reason the Berkeley was taken off the road, although it at least looks like it has been stored properly since disassembly. Many of these cars have been re-engined with something larger, and that’s what the seller had originally planned to do. Certainly a modern motorcycle engine could make this little car (curb weight 701 pounds!) fly, but would that really be in the spirit of the thing? I’m asking you–would you sympathetically restore this car like I would, or would you try to give it some more “oomph”?

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Comments

  1. Bingo

    10 hours on barnfinds and no comments. I got nothin to say as well!!

  2. Lewis Jones

    those ‘export headlight pods’ are horrible looking….

  3. Steven C

    These things look like fun, and this one is in better shape then the others i remember seening on here. I think i would keep the original engine, but convert it to the uk headlights, they are really good looking cars with those.

  4. billy de hulst

    I have a brand new body for a Berkeley, Which the British pronounce BARKELEY . I also have big plans to build it into a Special with either a Hillman Imp or Suzuki Swift GTi engine, a five speed gearbox with modified Lotus Elan rear suspension with a de Dion tube between the brakes.

    The engines in these tiny beasts were, shall I say, problematic. We sold these at the mini-dealership where I was the only employee. Most of the 328cc engines were totally worn out well before 10,000 miles. The larger engined cars did little better. People who bought these were usually not happy with them. Many were abandoned or given away because they wore out so rapidly.

    That is not surprising because the cars were not suitable for North American roads. They need twisty country lanes at 40 miles an hour, not a 4 lane being passed by everything while your Berkeley strains itself keeping its below the speed limit top speed.

    In the handling department, front wheel drive with swing axles at both ends resulted in some very peculiar cornering attitudes. It has been cruelly suggested that they looked like a dog lifting its leg at a fireplug. Some racing events featured small swarms of these insect sized bolides lifting their inside rear wheels off the pavement as they leaned through the corner.

    The body that I have does not have the ugly headlight nacelles like this one featured. It is far more attractive with the covered headlights laid back into the fender (wing for you old Brits).

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