Two-Stroke Racer: 1957 Berkeley SE328

If you recognize this little car, it’s probably because we featured it when it was listed for sale and then again when we bought it! We quickly went through the brakes and got it running again. It’s great fun but we are onto other projects so rather than let it sit again, we would like to sell it to someone who will enjoy it. We are only asking what we have into it – $7,200 and that includes the trailer. The car is located in Boise, Idaho. Click here it email us if you’re interested.

We are sad to let this one go because it’s unlikely we will ever find another. It looks like a baby Ferrari and the two-stroke engine makes it even more unique. Berkeley Coachworks was a camper manufacturer so they knew how to work with fiberglass to build lightweight structures. Combine that with the engineering genius of Lawrie Bond and you had one heck of a little car.

These were built as affordable sports cars that could compete in the under 750cc class. They actually did quite well too. You can see many race car influences here like the smooth underside and fully independent suspension. These things also have just about everything beat in the weight department too, coming in at only 700 pounds. And you thought a Lotus Elan was lightweight! The 328cc two-cylinder Excelsior engine didn’t put out a ton of power but the handling and braking abilities were topnotch.

The brake master cylinder had been recently rebuilt so we replaced all the hoses and bled the system. We didn’t expect much from the four-wheel drum setup, but we were actually pleasantly surprised by how well they work. So it runs and stops good but there are a few areas that need attention. The tires are original so you’ll want to replace those before driving too far. I would keep the old ones for posterity. The original hubcaps with spinners are a real treat!

We also have not been able to engage reverse. The clutch and shifter linkage seem to be touchy so it’s going to take some time with the service manual to get them dialed in. It’s also missing one of the plexiglass headlight covers. Given how rare these cars are, we were surprised to find lots of support and a fair amount of parts online. There’s an active Facebook page where members are happy to help out if you have questions or need parts.

This could be one of the most unique and fun to drive cars we’ve had so far. In fact, Josh and I had a blast taking turns pushing each other around behind the shop! It’s basically an adult pedal car. It comes with a custom trailer and there’s even a like-new convertible top with the bows. Josh and I were both able to fit in it comfortably. I had a hard time operating the pedals but that’s a common problem for me when it comes to sports cars because I’m 6’2″. Anyway, we hope this one goes to a good home where it will be cared for and driven on a regular basis. You can view an extensive photo gallery here and feel free to ask any questions you may have.

Here’s a video of the first time we started the engine.

And here’s a video of our first drive!

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Comments

  1. Blackcat

    Very tempting as it looks to be the best preserved example that I’ve seen. Was envious when you guys found it! One of these is probably as close as I will get to the DB HBR5 I’ve been craving for years.
    My wife will be calmed knowing that it’s a long tow run from Boise to SoCal, and in any case the garage is full of Spitfire. As she would be if I pulled up with this on that trailer.

    Curious if you the original owner’s son found the period photos did his Dad’s car. That history is the only thing that would make it better.

    Like 3
    • Jesse Mortensen Staff

      @Blackcat – If I were you, I’d sell one of the Spitfires and buy this. Much more fun. We don’t know any of the history beyond the last couple owners.

      Like 1
  2. Kevin kalman

    As the owner of 10 Berkeleys this is Avery solid example of the 328 line
    The cost is right in the ballpark also
    I have the most spare parts snd can be reached at kkalman@kalmanconstruction.com for advice or parts

    Like 1
  3. JMB#7

    This is the heart of Barn Finds. I really enjoy the unique lesser known cars that you feature. It makes you format one of my favorites.

    Like 5
    • Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Thanks!

      Like 2
  4. Martin Horrocks

    If you know the early 1950s 3 wheelers which Bond started with, “genius” needs to be qualified by “insane”.

    The Berkeley is a class act however, and I hope it quickly finds the right home.

    Like 2
    • Jesse Mortensen Staff

      If you research the Bond car you’ll see that the design was genius too. They may not make sense in today’s world but they were perfect for the time and place they were created for.

      Like 2
  5. Malcolm Boyes

    Love the job you have done..needs those headlight covers and tires as you said. Should be able to find reverse with some adjustments but these are so light its easy to push them! I am sorely tempted as the former owner of two T60’s ( the 3 heel version..same from the back of the doors to the front). You price is extremely fair!

    Like 1
    • Jesse Mortensen Staff

      @Malcolm – Let’s work a deal!

      Like 1
  6. David Frank Member

    What fuel/oil mixture are you using?

    • Jesse Mortensen Staff

      The service manual calls for 16:1 but Josh added a little more oil just to be safe since the car had been parked for a while. The smoke has cleared up since that first drive video.

      Like 1
  7. Jesse Mortensen Staff

    I just uploaded a video of the first time we started the engine and one of our first time driving it. Please let me know if there are any questions. Thanks!

    Like 1
  8. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    What size tire/profile does it take? Would you entertain any trades Jesse?

    • Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Michelin 5.20×12. I’ve read that some guys use trailer tires. I probably shouldn’t do trades because we are selling it to make room in the shop but what do you have?

      Like 1
      • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

        Trailer tires may not have the structural sidewall strength to withstand spirited driving. Betcha Austin Mini would work. I will email you my available trading stock, using the link. Some things equally as nice and resalable, just not as rare.

        Like 1
      • Jesse Mortensen Staff

        Trailer tires would work great. Remember, this thing only weighs 700 pounds. These could be raced for multiple seasons without touching the brakes or tires. Or shocks for that matter.

        Like 1
      • Jesse Mortensen Staff

        @Little_Cars – Anxiously awaiting your inventory list.

        Like 1
  9. Tom

    Oh man, look away…look away…

  10. Malcolm Boyes

    I bet this would fit in the back of my 66VW single cab! What a cool combo that would be…driving from Idaho to Sonoma Ca..mmmmm

    Like 2
    • Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Yeah it would!

  11. toly arutunoff

    I was loaned a new 3-cyl about 60 years ago for me and my girlfriend to run around the town and suburbs. really fun and smooth riding with 2 passengers. I didn’t know it had reverse gear! cover it with scotchlite and take it out on the interstate!

    Like 2
  12. Gordon

    Those plexiglass headlight covers seem to be an issue.

    This one must have a monster motor installed

    https://yeahmotor.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Screen-Shot-2018-07-18-at-3.49.38-PM.png

    • Jesse Mortensen Staff

      The headlight covers are available through the club in Europe. Perhaps Kevin even has a few?

      We featured the Berkeley in that photo a few years ago: https://barnfinds.com/austin-engine-swap-1958-berkeley-racer/

      Like 1
    • kevin + Kalman

      thats a Mini conversion, the headlight covers are available to replace any missing ones getting them fitted and installed is a bear but man they look cool

      Like 1
  13. Phlathead Phil

    Vely interesting. So, Barn Finds, what year is the lime green 914 you gots there?

  14. Kenn

    Keep the tires for posterity, I think you meant.

    Like 1
    • Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Thanks for catching my typo Kenn!

  15. Bill McCoskey

    Jesse,

    Looking at the first photo in this listing, I can’t understand why people trying to sell a car, don’t clean up the area around the car before selling. You left a piece of detritus in front of the right front wheel.

    Just kidding! Car looks far better since we first saw it!

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