Classy Kit Car: 1980 Blakely Bernardi

Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

Like so many men (and women) before him, Dick Blakely had a dream. His dream was to see his name emblazoned upon the flanks of a car of his making. That he was able to achieve this put him one step ahead of many people who had set out to chart the same course. That the whole venture closed after less than two decades would actually make Blakely a greater success than a lot of more fancied players (I’m talking to you, Mr. DeLorean). While his company was able to bring the Bantam and Bearcat models to production, by the time the Bernardi hit the town, Mr. Blakely no longer controlled the company bearing his name. This 1980 Blakely Bernardi comes to us with scant details and few photos, but it does look like it could present an enjoyable way to take in some Summer cruising. It is located in Princeton, Wyoming, and is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN price of $7,250 for the Bernardi, but the option is available to make an offer.

The potential Bernardi owner really had two choices back when the car was new. They could buy a kit from Blakely and assemble the car themselves, or it was possible to purchase a “turn-key” car from the company, and motor off on their happy way. Up until that point in time, the vast majority of kit cars on the market had been based on the VW Beetle, but the Bernardi was different. The company utilized its own custom chassis, and the vast majority of the drive-train was extracted from an unsuspecting Ford Pinto. That appears to be the case with this car, as the owner does note that it is fitted with a 4-cylinder engine and that the drive-train is all Ford. That should mean that under the hood will be the 2.3-liter Pinto engine, backed by a 4-speed manual transmission. The steering and brakes would also have been sourced from the same place, while a significant number of Pinto suspension components were either used as they fell from the car, or were slightly modified, in the case of the double wishbone front suspension. There was also the ability to shoe-horn a Ford small block under the hood, and I suspect that this would make the little car scary-fast. The body of the Bernardi is all fiberglass and tended to be of a higher quality than most other kit cars on the market. This was a good thing because as a kit car, they were also quite expensive. In an era when it was possible to drive out of a dealership in a new Corvette for around $22,000, a complete Bernardi purchased from Blakely would cost between $20,000 and $23,000. As a consequence, the majority of owners followed the kit path. The body of this one looks to be in good order, and the paint also looks good. The soft-top is looking a bit ordinary, but it may respond to a clean. I noticed that this one also isn’t fitted with the alloy roll-bar, which would indicate that it sports the optional storage shelf behind the seats. We can’t see the condition of the interior of this car, but the components that Blakely supplied with the Bernardi kit were of surprisingly good quality, and the fit and finish of a Bernardi interior tended to be on par with production cars of the era.

It isn’t clear how many Bernardis were eventually sold or built, as the company ceased to operate in 1987. It isn’t one of the most desirable cars on the planet, but the light vehicle weight would seem to offer a fairly enjoyable wind in the hair driving experience. For people like me who are suffering from (yet another) mid-life crisis, it is also quite tempting. Either way, the weather now seems to be about right to buy and enjoy a great little car like this.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    So whaddya think-a Ecotech or Ecoboost with a modern 6 speed gearbox and upgrade the brakes?

    Like 6
  2. John D.

    Or any number of V-6’s would strike a reasonable balance between the 4 and a possible ‘scary-fast’ V-8. It might be an easier fit.

    Like 2
  3. Steve

    The lower radiator looks a bit vulnerable.

    Like 1
  4. CanuckCarGuy

    Mid-life crisis you say? I have mine scheduled for next year at 52…I’m setting a very optimistic life span for myself. I’d love a sporty little ride like this to bomb around in, if for no other reason than to reinforce the stereotype and let the sun shine on my scalp.

    Like 3
    • Philip Lepel

      Looks tempting but I have most of that and a little more in my 83 GT Turbo mustang. No fiberglass body and flared fenders mind you. But that very European car feel

      Like 0
  5. Dean

    Lived in Wyoming for years, recalled no Princeton. It’s in Wisconsin. Neat little car.

    Like 0
  6. Jeepster Jeepster

    These (only!) three pictures from the ebay ad happen to be exactly the ones from the Wikipedia entry about the Blakely Bernardi… Coincidence?
    Or did the seller “steal” the ones from Wikipedia??
    Very odd either way.

    Like 6
  7. Del

    Classy ? Really ?

    About as classy as a Klik sandwich

    Like 2
  8. Marko

    Well executed design, in my opinion. Totally captures the English post war roadster flair, with a modern drivetrain. I would drive it until the wheels fall off.

    Like 1
  9. moosie moosie

    If you have a message for John Delorean you’ll have to get a gypsy to send it, he died in 2005, This seller is treating the sale of this car like he’s sending a telegram, short description and 3 crappy pictures, maybe a case of “Yes dear I am selling the car, I put it on EBAY” syndrome.

    Like 1
  10. BigDoc

    I like it plus the price isn’t bad and it should be fun to ride around in.

    Like 0
  11. Edward Stull

    Something is fishy about this. Time will tell!

    Like 2
  12. Bbob

    Never know what you are getting ,look it up at 1980 blakely bernardi

    Like 1

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds