Cycle Power: 1957 Berkeley SA322

With today’s high gas prices, a motorcycle powered sports car sounds like a good idea to us. It is not a new concept though as Berkeley Cars was cranking them out back in the fifties. The first in their “Sports” line was the SA322. This one was imported from the UK and is need of a full restoration. It does look complete though and bidding starts at only $1.25 here on eBay.

The Anzani twin cylinder didn’t make much power, but when connected to the front wheels of Berkeley’s small lightweight bodies they made for brisk performers. These little chain-driven cars may look primitive today, but they had to seem cutting edge when compared to the offerings of the day. They also surprised test drivers with their agility because the whole package weighed in at a slender 700 pounds.

You may be tempted to buy this car and cramp a modern cycle engine up front for more thrills, but we encourage you to go a different route. Many of these were raced when new so the original engines were replaced or they were scraped all together after being used up. The original engine is included with the sale so we hope this one will get restored to its original configuration.

Today’s cars are anchored down with safety devices and heavy metal reinforcements. We do appreciate the protection, but few of us will ever get to experience what it feels like to drive a lightweight sports car. Acceleration, braking, and turning happen so much quicker in a car like this and that is reason enough to give up modern convenience and comfort, at least for the day…

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Comments

  1. Dolphin Dolphin Member

    Already bid up from $1.00 all the way to $1.25 ! Keep it going, guys!

    These were very small production but fairly well marketed in the US back when they were new—you used to see little ads in the sports cars mags of the day for these, and I still have a couple of original brochures from the ’50s for the Berkeley.

    They had some US sales, but this one being RHD might be a tough sell over here….but with the bidding already at $1.25 you never know. If I were the owner I would market it in the UK. Being complete with the engine and misc stuff shown in the pics it should be attractive to Berkeley fans over there.

    I recently had a ride in a LHD version with the typical engine/transmission conversion to a modern Hi-Po bike engine, in this case, a Kawasaki 900 I believe. It ran real well, made great power, and sounded terrific. I guess it performed just a tad better than when it had the original Anzani 322cc. Only problem was the limited “interior” space….”Interior”, because it didn’t seem like you were inside much of anything, what with the exposure to the elements, but I guess that’s just part of the charm of a Berkeley. That and limited shoulder room. Best to ride only with very close friends—these are *very* small vehicles.

    • paul

      nice just don’t drive next to a Hummer.

    • Barn Finds

      A LHD would be nice, but I just read that these early cars were never imported to the States, so I guess if you want a SA322, this is the only way to go.

    • Dolphin Dolphin Member

      Jesse’s comment about these early Berkeleys not being imported into the US raises an interesting point. I am not very knowledgeable about the different sub-models of Berkeleys, so I’m not sure whether I rode in an early or late model, but it was definitely a LHD car. The ride I had in a Berkeley took place in Ontario, Canada, which is a hotbed of British sports car ownership….and Canada often received imported cars that were never officially imported into the US, or sometimes not even allowed into the US because of differences in laws governing car imports. So there could be Berkeleys in Canada that were never officially imported into the US. But since it’s RHD I would guess that the Berkeley in this feature was probably imported after 1957 by an individual owner, rather than by the Factory.

  2. Alan

    This is brilliant! I only wish I had the resources and circumstances to get this car. And just think how simple it is to work on a motorcycle engine compared to a car. Price is over $400 now though, with the reserve not met.

  3. Dave Stewart

    There was a gathering of Berkeleys at the British car show at Ursuline Collage in Cleveland in August.
    The collection of the tiny, different colored Berkeleys was a big attraction…very cool!

  4. Rancho Bella

    I would consider a Crosley Hot Shot to be safe …….compared to a Berkley

    • Barn Finds

      I would have to agree with you just because the Berkeley is fiberglass. You might fall out of the side of the Crosley while going around corners though…

  5. Your Name

    I had 4 of these a one time, only one actually drove. It was the 492cc triple. It was semi-spirited, but also scary to drive on freeways in SoCal. Not the best handling (swing axles, heavy front end……) but actually fun if driven within it’s limits. Best looking of ALL micro cars!

  6. Will

    Did it have a reverse gear?

    • Barn Finds

      I believe it has a three speed with reverse. Please correct me if that is wrong.

  7. Barn Finds

    I forgot to mention that these had independent suspension on all four corners. Not a big deal today, but how many cars from the fifties can you name with that in this price range?

  8. erikj

    i like this even though i i,m into american muscle mostly. This looks like a fun car. Looks like most of the basics are present. The seller has the other one well under way-looks good. A good person to have acess to for poss. parts and advise.I will bid i hope it does not go crazy high. I dont have deep pockets,but you cant win if you dont play. Wish me luck!!!!! By the way, if i get it it stays stock.

    • Barn Finds

      Let us know if you get it. I was actually very tempted myself because it should make a fun winter project.

      • erikj

        Well, The 57 berekely featured a few back,I won the bidding and it will soon be on its way to washington.I think while im working on it i will be adding a extra room in my garage for me to sleep since the wife is gona be on the warpath when she finds out. Guess that just gives me more time to work on it. Poor me, what can i say, i love all cars and if there are rare and unique like the berkeley , I cant help my self. So i hope its as good and mostly complete as it looks. Its always scary buying sight unseen paid $2339+shipping. thks barnfind . I follow your sight every day. Great job!!! Erikj

    • scot c

      ~ congrats, erikj. just ‘splain to her that’s why she loves you – ya’ are who ya’ are.

  9. Larry

    $1900 and reserve met.
    Pretty interesting little project, could be fun???

  10. Mark E

    I agree with the author…when I saw this, my first thought was to cram in a modern MC engine but considering the rarity it would be much better to restore it to original shape. Plus if you were looking to sell it for a profit in the UK it would be worth more there to boot!!

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