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Gilbern Genie / Invader

Published: 20th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Gilbern Genie / Invader

Fast Facts

  • Engine: 2995cc/4-cyl
  • Power (bhp/rpm): 140/4750
  • Torque (lb ft@rpm): 182/3000
  • Top speed: 116mph
  • 0-60mph: 10.7sec
  • Fuel consumption: 27mpg
  • Transmission: 4-sp man overdrive
  • Length: 13ft 3in (4.04m)
  • Width (inc mirrors): 5ft 5in (1.65m)
  • Weight: 2456lb (1115kg)
  • Books: None yet, but the Owners’ Club offers a CD of all club magazine articles since 1969 for £10 (to members)
  • Websites: Gilbern Owners’ Club. 01438 354 710,
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It’s famous for being the only car maker ever to be based in Wales, but Gilbern has much more to offer than this oft-repeated fact. With under 1000 cars builtin 16 years, Gilbern may be little more than a footnote in the annals of automotive history, but its cars make as much sense as they ever did. Fast, well-built, stylish and practical, Gilberns are easy to maintain while parts supply is better than ever thanks to an enthusiastic owners’ club that can supply anything unique to the cars, from new chassis and panels to fresh looms and even refurbished wood trim. Just don’t expect to drop on a good one very easily; Gilbern owners tend to get very attached to their steeds…

What to look for?

Thanks to its glassfi bre construction, bodywork corrosion isn’t an issue for the Gilbern buyer. With thick, high-quality glassfi bre used throughout, stress cracks and crazing shouldn’t be prominent, although the windscreen surround and wheelarches can suffer. If there are lots of areas affected by cracking, it’s probably because the car has been pranged and badly repaired. Rust can be an issue for the tubular chassis however; all sections (and even replacement chassis) are available from the club, and unless things are really far gone, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have to remove the bodyshell to effect repairs – which is just as well because it’s riveted and bonded in place. Key areas to check are the sills, seatbelt mountings, seat supports, engine mounts and the triangulated section under the front footwells. All mechanical bits are available, so now matter how tired the car is, it can be revived relatively cheaply and easily. All engines and running gear are BMC-sourced except for the Invader Mk3 which took its brakes and suspension from the Ford parts bin. The most likely mechanical malady will be an engine that’s overheating; the cooling system is marginal so it needs to be in tip-top condition and aided by an electric fan if it’s to perform effectively. Also check the electrics all work as loom bodges are common thanks to the glassfi bre construction.


Apart from the Invader MkIII, which is typically worth an extra £500 or so, all these cars are worth the same for a given condition. Restoration projects fetch £500-£1000, with good cars worth £3000-£4000. Really nice cars fetch up to £6500 (£7000 for an Invader MkIII), but these aren’t easy to fi nd, as once somebody has restored one nicely, they tend to hang on to it.

Driving one

Gilberns are light thanks to their plastic bodyshells, which means they accelerate smartly and are decently agile when it comes to the twisties. However, these cars were built for cruising rather than sprinting, with gearing more suited to long-distance journeys than sprints between bends on deserted A-roads. The Essex V6 isn’t especially refi ned, but it does offers plenty of low-down grunt – and it’s easy to tune. On that note, don’t expect to fi nd a completely standard Genie or Invader, as buyers have tended to upgrade their cars over the years, leading to quite different driving characteristics compared with when the cars were new.



The Genie arrives with a choice of 2.5 or 3.0-litre Ford V6 engines.


An updated Genie is released, called the P130 and now fi tted with temperamental mechanical fuel injection. Just 10 cars are made though before Gilbern goes back to more reliable carbs.


The Invader arrives; it’s a revamped Genie with fl ush-fi tting door handles, Gilbern’s own alloy wheels and a wooden dashboard.


The Invader Mk2 debuts, with the engine set further back and revised cooling vents in the bonnet. There’s also now an Invader estate available, competing with the Scimitar GTE; it’s the rarest of all Gilberns.


The Invader Mk3 is unveiled with fl ared wheelarches and Ford running gear throughout; it was previously a mixture of BMC and Ford.


The fi nal cars are made as Gilbern sadly goes bust. The fi nal production tally is 197 Genies, 394 Invader Mk1s and Mk2s plus 212 Invader Mk3s.

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