1959 Berkeley B 90 Sports SE 492

SE492 Twosome

Summary

  • Year of manufacture 
    1959
  • Car type 
    Other
  • Lot number 
    106
  • Condition 
    Used
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 
    Other

Description

  • Restored in 2009; Finished in Ecurie Ecosse blue over red interior
  • The 597th of 666 examples produced by Berkeley Cars
  • 492-cc three-cylinder Excelsior motorcycle engine
  • Four-speed sequential transmission

The Berkeley family of micro cars was manufactured from 1956 to 1960 in Great Britain and represented a sporty looking, yet eminently affordable vehicle choice. The cars utilized an early fiberglass and aluminum monocoque design, with motorcycle-sourced powertrains which provided ample power to the rather spartan roadsters. Unveiled at the 1957 British Motor Show and driven by a three-cylinder, air-cooled, two-stroke Excelsior engine pushing 492-cc and 30 horsepower. A four-speed sequential transmission (an Excelsior VR unit) sends power to the front wheels—bringing the sub-700-lb. chassis to a reported top speed of 80 miles per hour.

This charming SE492 Twosome benefits from a complete restoration which was finished in 2009. A variety of Canadian, German, and English specialist shops reportedly contributed parts and labor to get this SE492 to its current condition after it was discovered as a derelict in the weeds of a British Columbia property. Vancouver area specialists RX Autoworks and Auto Restore were the main parties contributing to the meticulous work completed to bring this Berkeley back to life—the former completed the interior upholstery and styling while the latter effectively provided all other services including assembly.

The restoration included a complete disassembly of the body into its three main pieces (bottom, front, and rear), plus doors and rear seat cover. The engine cover was missing, and had to be remade, as did the headlight covers. Otherwise, the body was surprisingly good, except for the gel-coat. All fiberglass and aluminum sections were repaired, refinished, and remade as necessary-- including making a die to create the proper strengthening holes. The steel engine cradle was repaired as small sections had rusted. The car was reassembled and painted the distinctive shade of Ecurie Ecosse Blue.

RX Restorations redid the interior, and made the tonneau cover. The seats were molded from a Genie Can-Am car. The British firm that, at the time, had the original Bluemels patterns, made the steering wheel in a 15-inch diameter and also supplied the Brooklands windscreens. The otherwise spartan interior features Icknield and AC instruments.

A proper sampling from the otherwise exhaustive list of rebuilt, and new ‘period-correct’ components presented on this restored chassis includes a new clutch, pistons, seals, differential, and a set of Hagon shocks. A modern electronic ignition system has also been fitted to increase the reliability of the rebuilt three-cylinder engine. The Dyna-start was rebuilt, using brushes from a Harley Davidson golf cart. The wiring loom was taken apart, cleaned, fixed, and re-wrapped. The transmission was rebuilt and a new Royal Enfield clutch was installed. The steering box and the brakes were also redone. The car rides on period correct wheels wrapped in Cinturato tires.

A charming British microcar, this Berkeley finished in the distinctive Ecurie Ecosse Blue, is one of just 666 Berkeley cars produced, and is sure to be the talk of any car show or cars and coffee.

Please note that an import duty of 2.5% of the purchase price is payable on this lot if the buyer is a resident of the United States.

To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/mo20.