The Gordon-Keeble was named after its makers. John Gordon and Jim Keeble founded the firm. Unfortunately, the car substantially under-achieved. On paper, an American V8 engine, plus a British chassis, plus Italian styling, should have equalled plenty of sales. It did not. The Gordon-Keeble entered production in ’64. By the end of the following year, only 80 had been built. By ’67 – the end of its run – that figure had risen to a paltry 99. Poor parts supply – and under-funding – were to blame.
The Gordon-Keeble was powered by a V8 – courtesy of the Chevrolet Corvette. It produced 300bhp. Top speed was 135mph. The Gordon-Keeble hit 70 in first gear alone. Unsurprisingly, the motor was enclosed in a lightweight glassfibre shell. It was designed by the great Giorgetto Giugiaro. He was just 21 when he penned the Gordon-Keeble’s lines. Even by that tender age, he was lead stylist at Bertone. Later, he joined Ghia. Then, in ’67, Giugiaro started up his own studio – Italdesign. For Gordon-Keeble to have attracted talent such as his, was a beautifully-proportioned feather in the company cap. The car’s delicately-slanted headlamps were just one of the styling subtleties Giugiaro brought to bear. Beneath his bodywork was a square-section space-frame chassis. It incorporated a DeDion rear axle. Lashings of torque were ladled out to it by a 4-speed ‘box.
The Gordon-Keeble factory was at an airport – near Southampton, England. It seemed like some of that aeronautical ambience rubbed off on the car. Certainly, its dashboard looked like it would be equally at home in a jet-plane. It was made up of a small multitude of toggle switches. In pride of place on the factory façade was a small sign – which spoke volumes. ‘The car built to aircraft standards’, it said. Sadly, though – in the annals of automotive success stories – the Gordon-Keeble was one of those that got away!