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British Motoring Monday: 1958 Berkeley Project

1958 Berkeley SE328

The first time I ever saw a Berkeley it was hanging on the wall of a foreign car repair shop in Raleigh, NC. Turns out the shop owner had it and had run out of convenient storage places, wasn’t going to get to the car anytime soon, and thought out of the box and literally hung the car on the wall. That will give you an idea of how small these tiny cars really are. This project is available in Cantonment, Florida and is offered here on eBay at no reserve.

Image courtesy of flickr
Image courtesy of flickr

A Berkeley SE328 must be one of the cutest sports cars ever to leave the British Isles. Produced from 1956 to 1960 in both three and four wheeled models, Berkeleys were all front wheel drive and powered by motorcycle engines. The SE328 was the second model in the line, weighed about 710 pounds and was typically motivated by a 328cc Excelsior engine with about 18 ground-pounding horsepower. While the factory touted a 70 mph top speed and 70 miles per gallon, contemporary road tests didn’t quite meet either figure. Nonetheless, just being able to power a car with an 18 hp engine should count for something!

1958 Berkeley SE328 Parts

With less than 1300 ever made, and the company long out of business, taking on a puzzle like this one could be quite daunting. The seller has done a great job of picturing all the parts that come with the car, with what look like duplicates in some cases and the only glaring things missing are an engine and one wheel cover.

1958 Berkeley SE328 Hood

Berkeleys are frequently repowered with more modern motorcycle powerplants and that could certainly be an option in this case. A previous owner had cut a hole in the hood to do just that, but the cut piece is included to be re-bonded in if you so desire.

1958 Berkeley SE328 Body

So, if nothing else but a Berkeley will do for you, what’s the next step with this totally disassembled car? I’m glad you asked! To begin with, there is a worldwide group of owners that has been around for more than 50 years that has an online shop manual posted, along with an active forum and a lot of other information, including some spare parts for sale. There’s also a US supplier of parts that caters to British oddballs like the Berkeley. What there is of this car looks very solid, and there are even interior scraps to try to reproduce what rudimentary trim the little car originally had. And what other restoration project can you think of that won’t even take up a space in your garage—you, too, could “hang it on the wall!” Are you up for the challenge?


  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Looking at the value guide for these from Hagerty, I was left wondering how much sense this makes versus finding a car that is more complete. Also, based on past Barn Finds stories, there are others out there that may have engines already at only a little more money. On the other hand, you know exactly what body condition this one is in…it has nothing to hide.

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  2. jim s

    the seller has done a good job with the photos of the parts, you know what you are getting. it has a bid and no reserve so it is going to sell, should be interesting to watch the bidding. hood looks totally different then the one in the photo of a complete car. great find

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    • Toly L

      Same hood. The featured car’s hood is backwards.

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      • Mark E

        LOL, so much for the knowledgeable seller theory then…

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      • jim s

        you are right, i missed that. thanks

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  3. rancho bella

    I always thought my Elan were small………..then I stood next to a Berkeley
    Cute as a button they are

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  4. tyler s

    hayabusa swap any one.

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    • St.Ramone de V8

      Now that sounds like fun! Probably dangerous, but….

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  5. z1rider

    The weight distribution on this car has to be calculated in combination with a driver and must allow for seat adjustment. At 6′ 3″ and a little over 200 lbs I could give it a rearward weight bias:)

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  6. Lt. Nzdgaer

    Actually, those 3 downed flying saucers sitting outside intrique me. Anybody know if there’s enough parts among the 3 to rebuild a flux capacitator?

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  7. Mark E

    This is perfect! My immediate thought when seeing one of these is to do an engine swap with a Crosley! And here’s a project needing an engine. Hmm… ^_^

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  8. Tim H

    They look a lot like a miniature cobra. Not enough strength in the monocoque design to put much more than stock power. I had great fun just hauling mine home on a little 4×8 flatbed trailer, everyone looked and waved. You can pick up the back by the nerf bars and wheel it around like a wheelbarrow. I was going to use it to re-body a dwarf race car, it would be fun fast and cute. Never got it done.

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  9. Dolphin Member

    A friend had one that he transplanted a 4-cyl Kawasaki engine/transmission into, since the original engines are not known for their longevity and his had given up. That booted it right along all right, even tho the payload was increased significantly by a second body.

    We went for a ride one early Fall morning. The quarters were close—–VERY close. The connection between man, machine and road seemed tighter than anything I had ridden in/on before, even a motorcycle. They are fun, but very, very small.

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  10. DT

    I always thought rear wheel drive would be cool, like Toyota Corolla running gear

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  11. Lobarth

    Restored one for a client a few years ago. These are small cars but a huge project. This build ran the gauntlet of skill sets
    Fiberglas repairs & prep (thru a mould for a new bonnet as the original was beyond repair)
    Alloy fabrication to replace all the corroded alum except the firewall & front inner wheel well panels.
    Steel fab to make a new engine/diff mounting assembly (50% rusted away) etc.
    Go to Autorestore.ca to the view the gallery for Pics

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  12. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    There is another Berkley currently on eBay too!

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Looks like a better buy than this one…if the price stays where it is ($3300).

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