Home » The Gilbern Invader Is A Very Cool Car Most People Forget About But Not Me: Cold Start

The Gilbern Invader Is A Very Cool Car Most People Forget About But Not Me: Cold Start

Cs Gilbern Top
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I’m still in the damn hospital, still being stuck with needles and tubes and wires and I’m still sick of being here. Yesterday I let myself indulge in a lot of complaining, but today I’m just going to try and rise above, or at least to the side, of the frustration and discomfort by talking about a car I feel like doesn’t get talked about enough: the Gilbern Invader. These cars meet one of my main criteria in choosing a car: most people at least a little into cars will look at it and think “what the fuck is that?”

Also, it’s a handsome, deeply cool car from Wales of all places, with a big bold dragon on the grille and a look that feels like something between an early Mustang and an Alfa Romeo GTV. It’s one of that interesting set of British cars from the ’60s and ’70s that were handsome sporty machines with fiberglass bodies and beefy engines.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Gilbern – the name comes from a portmanteau of the founders’ first names, Giles Smith (an ex-butcher!) and Bernard Friese (an engineer who knew about fiberglass), sort of like if David and Beau and I decided to name this site Dajasbeau or something.

(Medical update: they just pulled a drain tube out of me and boy did it feel weird. The sensation of a tube with a plastic flared end being pulled from inside you to outside you is pretty unnerving. But it’s out!)

Gilbern started making kit-type cars in 1959 with BMC and later MG mechanicals, then graduated to fully-built cars like the Gilbern Genie, which had some MGB underpinnings and an Essex V6 engine like my old Reliant Scimitar.

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Cs Gilbern 2

From the Genie came the Invader, and it’s a great example of how a few small styling tweaks can make a huge difference, especially on the Mark III Invaders like this one:

Cs Gilbern Inv1 Bw

The grille became full-width instead of the previous trapezoidal shape, and the whole car was widened and lowered a bit, with a track widened by about four inches. The result was a car that looked more purposeful and imposing while still feeling dignified and handsome. The Invader is just a great-looking GT car in its clean simplicity.

Cs Gilbern Estate2

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Here, you can watch a video of some sideburns and the guy who lives inside them driving one, as well as some great footage of the factory, where you can see the nearly fully-formed fiberglass bodies coming out of their molds like cicada shells:

There were even wagon – sorry, estate– versions of Gilberns that were very cool, even if a bit oddly droopy at the rear:

Cs Gilbern Estate

These cars also reminded me how most of the Welsh manufactured products I’m aware of, a number in the high twos, seem to feature dragons prominently as their logo. Gilbern has a wonderful version of the Welsh Dragon as their badge, a red dragon that seems to have won a battle against a white dragon long long ago, and as a result, gets to be on the Welsh flag – if you can beat it in a fight, maybe they’ll put you on the flag? Anyway, the only other Welsh-manufactured product I’m that familiar with is the Dragon 32 or Dragon 64 computer, and its logo is also a stylized version of that dragon:

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Cs Gilbern Dragon32

I have a Dragon 64 in my collection of weird crap; it’s a lot like a Welsh version of the Radio Shack TRS-80 color computer, and is an interesting machine, even if it has graphic modes with some of the most garish colors I’ve ever seen.

The Gilbern Invader, though, is a hell of an appealing car. I’ve never gotten to drive one, though I suspect it may be similar to my old Scimitar GTE, which would be very satisfying.

Now I just want to get out of this damn hospital bed.

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Wayne F Bailey
Wayne F Bailey
2 months ago

Well, I had an Alfa GTV for a few years, while living in Italy. I glanced at the first photo.grille to rear roof angle…my first thought was Lancia Fulvia coupe… Overall I really like the lines!

EXL500
EXL500
2 months ago
Reply to  Wayne F Bailey

I’m 1/4 Welsh and a car freak for 66 of my 69 years, so I know about Gilbern. A bit Alfa GTV in shape indeed.

KevFC
KevFC
2 months ago

Could have been worth it, but not an obvious bargain.

In 1970 the exchange rate from British pounds to the US dollar was about 2.4. The CPI inflation factor in the USA between then and now is about 18.

So the 1,917 converts, roughly, to a current 36,000 $US.

Beer-light Guidance
Beer-light Guidance
2 months ago

The back end of the wagon looks like it is very concerned about its receding hairline. It really needs a top-mounted wiper to look like it has a sad comb-over.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
2 months ago

I like the face on this car. Those under bumper lights really make me happy. I checked and there are none of these available near me (not surprising), but I would definitely drive one as a daily.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
2 months ago

While the Gilbern Invader is a good car my favorite from that era is Gordon-Keeble with its turtle logo.

Pneumatic Tool
Pneumatic Tool
2 months ago

Very interesting car. Even more interesting name…it sounds like something that one would prefer to have shipped in discreet packaging.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
2 months ago
Reply to  Pneumatic Tool

I think the Dajasbeau Impaler ships in an unmarked cardboard box wearing a Mackintosh coat.

Last edited 2 months ago by Amberturnsignalsarebetter
JKcycletramp
JKcycletramp
2 months ago

And the 2024 Quipulitzer goes to, ”some sideburns and the guy who lives inside them.”

James Mitchell
James Mitchell
2 months ago

The sensation of a tube with a plastic flared end being pulled from inside you to outside you is pretty unnerving. But it’s out!)

I had a tube inserted to drain fluid from around my right lung following an operation; the problem was that the doctor who ordered the tube to be inserted refused to issue an order for its removal.
5-6 weeks after surgery and there is no fluid building up on my lungs, but the doctor will not order it removed because “it’s easier to leave the tube in place, just in case.”
At this point in time, the tube (about 18 inches of which were outside my chest cavity) is really getting uncomfortable, especially as I became more active.
Finally, the doctor’s PA takes pity on me and gives me the name of another doctor that used to be partners with my doctor.
After a brief consultation, the second doctor scheduled an appointment with an out-patient center, and 20 minutes after arriving the tube was out. And yes, the feeling of having the tube removed was, as Torch said, unnerving. And a bit painful, but only for a moment or two.
Amazingly, there were no stitches involved, just a dressing and a warning not to shower or swim for three days.
The second doctor told me that part of the reason he ended the partnership with the first doctor was that 1st doc showed little concern for his patients’ confort.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
2 months ago

A guy in the Seattle area has an earlier Gilbern, a GT 1800, one of seven produced with left-hand drive. We’ve had a chance to talk on a few occasions over the years as we frequently end up parked together at British car shows in the miscellaneous class:

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/53736935168_e955969407_c.jpg

A nice guy and a nice car.

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
2 months ago

I was going through the list of car clubs due to show up at a show I’m going to while I’m in England next fall, and the Gilbern Owners Club definitely got a “what the frick is that?” out of me. My brain has a solidly above average depth of knowledge for weird cars, but that one got me. So now I’m excited to see these in person!

Sklooner
Sklooner
2 months ago

Worked on one of those in the 80s and sold it to Vancouver, it could be the same car- I remember the electrics being awful- British and fibreglass

Chronometric
Chronometric
2 months ago

The Gilbern Invader is swell(sh). Thank you for dragon it to my attention.

Danster
Danster
2 months ago

Best to you, complaining is one of the last free things in this world. Very cool car, ironically I’m in Wales, WI. You’ve heard of the Guinness book of records. I’ll be starting Dan’s Hall of unfortunate records. 4hrs of brain surgery, 5 Cyberknife radiation sessions, 4 chemo treatments, immunotherapy every 6 weeks for two years. Topper is between CT, MRI and PET scans I’m at 23 in 23 months. No sympathies or sorries please. Med team says I’m a record holder, try not to join me! Every day is good or great, you make the most of day please. Forward we go! Really enjoy reading and watching your work!

Dale Mitchell
Dale Mitchell
2 months ago
Reply to  Danster

Yet you and Torch are still with us – I for one raise a glass to both of you for your toughness!

Danster
Danster
2 months ago
Reply to  Dale Mitchell

Deeply appreciated, thanks!!

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
2 months ago
Reply to  Danster

Go make cancer your bitch, just like Torch made his traitorous aorta his bitch.

Danster
Danster
2 months ago

Good way to put it, she sure is a stubborn one, thanks.

Matt Hardigree
Matt Hardigree
2 months ago
Reply to  Danster

Kick some ass Danster!

Danster
Danster
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

Daily thanks!

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
2 months ago

“a look that feels like something between an early Mustang and an Alfa Romeo GTV”
You’ve cracked the code!
Bishop; Your next mission if you chose to accept..

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
2 months ago

I mentioned on the last hospital post that I was going in yesterday for knee replacement. And talked about my plan to do the Dead Man’s curve quote.
It became apparent that nobody knew the song. So I fell back to a proven winner for when you’re about to go under the anesthesia..
“Push the button Frank’

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
2 months ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

A couple weeks ago I had surgery for a detached retina.
It’s a procedure where they cut your eyeball open.reach inside and push the retina back against the back of your eyeball and shoot it with some lasers to make it stick. Oh, and they keep you awake for the process.

I made some jokes about the film “Un Chien Andalou” and nobody had any idea what I was talking about.

Gubbin
Gubbin
2 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

You start singing “Got me a movie, I want you to know…” and the surgeon turns to the anesthesiologist going, “have you seen this kind of reaction before?”

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
2 months ago

Keep hanging in there, and as long as tubes are coming out, you’re on the right path!

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
2 months ago

It almost looks like it could be a Michelotti design. So clean!

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
2 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Buchholz

Looks more like a TR6/Karmann design to me.

Bob Rolke
Bob Rolke
2 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

I thought the tr6 was Michelotti designed.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
2 months ago
Reply to  Bob Rolke

Negative. Michelotti did a lot of Triumph cars, including the Spitfire and TR4, but the TR6 was Karmann.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
2 months ago

That estate is a sweet ride. Where do I sign?

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
2 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

Pass the sign-up form to me when you’re done.

10001010
10001010
2 months ago

To me it kinda looks like an East German saw a Jaguar from over the wall and tried his best to shape his Trabant into one.

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
2 months ago
Reply to  10001010

The Trabby’s body panels were made of some kind of resin infused with recycled clothing fibers, which is basically fiberglass if you think about it. Fiberglass of the proletariat!

10001010
10001010
2 months ago

The question has always been, “recycled from what?” Poor proletariat driving around in cars skinned in used chones.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
2 months ago

I very suddenly want a Gilbern!
Lets crowdfund a revival – making it an EV this time and putting those nice Welshies back to work!
I’m growing my sideburns in anticipation….

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
2 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

I’m guessing an EV kit car comes with a heavily insulated rubber suit and a whole lot of instructions about what components can absolutely not be touched at the same time.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
2 months ago

“Batteries Included”

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago

The jutting edges surrounding the rear panel don’t seem to go with the rest of the car. Nonetheless, it’s a sporty longroof and I like it

Mortalcombatant
Mortalcombatant
2 months ago

It looks like low resolution Volvo P1800 from Wish.

ChefCJ
ChefCJ
2 months ago

If Volvo made an Alfa

Winsome Badger
Winsome Badger
2 months ago

There are so many short lived but exceptional British manufacturers from this period. Check out Gordon Keeble for something similar but a bit more upmarket.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
2 months ago

I love the fact that pretty much all the British cars from back in the day were available in kits or factory builds. I just love the idea that it was normal to build your own car. Also, I 100% gagged when reading the blurb about the tube coming out. That was gross, and I am glad it’s out of you. Hopefully you’re headed home soon. Enjoy the jello while you can I guess.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago

“Gilbern – the name comes from a portmanteau of the founders’ first names, Giles Smith (an ex-butcher!) and Bernard Friese”

Which makes their choice of the model name “Invader” very interesting indeed.

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