Toy Car Fun: Berkeley Sports Project

Berkeley Sports Se328 Project

UPDATE 1/18/12 – The auction did not meet reserve at $1,913, but it was relisted and apparently sold for $2,750 the same day!

With the high gas prices and strict emissions these days some manufacturers have attempted to build electronic sports cars. You have probably seen them in the news with claims that they are fast and fun to drive. There is a major flaw though. They need batteries to move and all that weight takes away from the agile feeling a sports car should have. Berkeley had already solved this problem long ago. They built small fiberglass bodies and stuck motorcycle engines in them. This Berkeley Sports project is available here on eBay with bidding at $660 and the reserve not met. There are a few unanswered questions though…

Berkeley Sports Se328 Dash

First off, the seller does not know what year it is. He lists it as a 1959, but claims that it is a 328. The SE328 was only produced between 1957 and 1958. The chassis number (963) puts it closer to the end of production, so we are guessing late ’57 or ’58. Any Berkeley experts here who can confirm this?

Berkeley Sports Engine Compartment

The original engine is not with the car, but the seller is including a Excelsior 392 and transmission. The top end of the engine is disassembled and one of the three carburetors is missing. That two stroke engine is not exactly clean burning, but it should be fuel efficient. There would not be enough horsepower for the highway, but it would be fun to take around the track. Could this be the perfect car for an engine swap? A modern 150 horsepower motorcycle engine would make this 700 lb toy car scary fast.

Berkeley Sports Se328 Interior

This project looks like it wouldn’t be too much more difficult than assembling a large model car. The body and aluminum chassis are in good shape and parts are available. Most of the parts will need to be sourced so it might be a good idea to get connected with other Berkely owners so you can buy some of the parts used. As long as it can be picked up at a realistic price, this miniature project could be a very fun endeavor.

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Comments

  1. Rich

    I had a chance to drive one of these in about ’65. Engine was sick, though, and I didn’t know enough about m-cycle engines to have a go at it. I think it wound up with a Triumph 3 cylinder rocket 750cc engine and gearbox in it. Front wheel drive if I remember correctly. BTW- I liked the Italia much better.Thanks.

  2. Capt Mike

    This looks like the exact car I had 20 years ago in Texas. I sand blasted it to get the paint off of it. How and hell it ended up in new england is beyond me.

  3. Rich

    Was it in Amarillo? That’s where I saw mine- I think it was red- Thanks.

  4. BFBusa

    Put a Suzuki Hayabusa motorcyle engine in that, but be sure to have a 5 point seat belt, because that will be one fast machine.

  5. Rich

    That would be a real screamer-or a BMW R1100 for a bit of smoothness. Probably have to install some kind of radiator (oil) though.

  6. Capt Mike

    No I was in the Houston area, my son just looked at the photo and swears it is the same car but now we don;t know what we did with it. I sold the motor on Ebay but damn we can not remember where the car went. Getting old sucks. I caught hell from folks after i blasted off the gelcoat because they said I ruined it and they were probably right.

  7. Rich

    Like many other types of materials- fiberglass has it’s vices. But with a lot of the new Marine epoxies-it can be salvaged and would even be more strong than it was originally. Boats have similar problems-especially like my early Melges sailing scow. Thanks.

  8. Pat

    For something out there stick a Suzuki RE5 rotary engine in it. It had decent power and a GT750 tranny which would be up to the duty cycle. Loose the carb with 37 cables and remove the decel point set and presto! :) Light and fast!

  9. Chris

    What you can’t tell from the pictures is just how really small it is. Makes a bugeye look huge. More like a two seater go kart with a body. Rich, I doubt if there are 500 people who know what a Melges C scow looks like, let alone know how to sail one. Fastest I’ve ever been on a sailboat. I met Budy Melges at a Chatauqua Lake NY scow regatta. Great sailor himself and ambassador for sailing. Olympic and America Cup winner.

  10. Rich

    Dear Chris: I agree= but mine is an M-20. A bit easier to handle, but still fast. Been clocked by an adjacent boat at over 16 knots with just the working sails (jib and main) up. Too dicey to put up the spinnaker with only two people on board. You are right about the size of the Berkely. Tiny car. Almost a strap-on. A bit bigger than a cart, but not by much. Thanks.

  11. Horace

    Captain Mike, maybe your car is this one which was up for sale on eBay in Texas. It is completely stripped as well… I have three berkeley’s and they are such a simple design with great lines.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/360243999665

  12. Dave Jensen

    Who needs parts?

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