Remember earlier this year when I showed you an incredible and tiny little jewel of a roadster, a yellow-and-green Berkeley SE328? Sure you do. That’s not the sort of thing you forget, after all. And then do you remember how my co-founder Beau let me bid on that car, to experience the decadent, trouser-endangering thrills of bidding on a car auction? Well, we won the car, and now that car is part of Beau’s collection, which means that I can get to drive it and try it out, to really live that Berkeley experience. Which is exactly what I did, and, even better, via the magic of video, you get to join me! For all of it! Even at the end, when we learn some hard truths about our own beloved David Tracy.
Before we get into the video, let’s recap a bit about what this car is all about, exactly. As you can see above there, the car is tiny. Like, bathtub-sized tiny. It’s a microcar, after all. But, what’s interesting about this microcar is that unlike most microcars, which were built as little spartan mobility tools for severe and austere times, the Berkeley was built for fun. Cheap, easy fun, the kind of car that was targeted at people who wanted an MG Midget or an Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite, but felt that those were both maybe too much car, in size, power, and, most significantly, cost. [Ed note: We launched our new player and the video is below but it’s not functioning 100% the way we want it to, just to be safe we put the YouTube video at the bottom of this post- MH]
I’m going to quote from past Berkeley articles to give you some background, if you’ll forgive me:
Berkeley was primarily a maker of fiberglass caravans – what we in America call campers or camping trailers – but that was a seasonal business, so the company was looking for something to sell when camper sales were slow. That’s why when Berkeley was approached by designer Lawrence Bond, the guy who had made the Bond Minicar, about designing a low-cost, fun sports car that could be “something good enough to win World 750cc races,” the team was willing to give it a go.
This is a car that made 18 HP from its Excelsior two-stroke engine and weighs only 672 pounds. It’s tiny in every context. And it’s fun. Enough talking, though; time to see this little monster in action!
See what I meant about David? What a jackass.