When British engineering has been paired with cars, the result has often been worthwhile. However, not every British made classic car has been as memorable as others, such as the Gordon-Keeble. Designed by a company with the same name, the Gordon-Keeble featured a unique tortoise badge that was unusual among car brands. The emblem came about when a pet tortoise walked into the frame of a photo shoot. Based on the irony of how slow a tortoise can be, it was chosen as the marque’s logo.
The Gordon-Keeble car was an amalgam of British and European coordination, and we’re looking into how it was designed.
The concept for the Gordon-Keeble came about when a former employee of the Peerless car car company, John Gordon, decided to found his own organisation. Working with Jim Keeble, the pair designed the Gordon GT car prototype in 1959. It was based around a Chevrolet Corvette V8 engine and completed in Turin by Giorgetto Giugiaro.
The Gordon-Keeble featured a rare slanted body and interior that was reminiscent of an old luxury jet, with a quilted aircraft PVC and white on black gauges. Displayed at the 1960 Geneva Motor Show, production was delayed due to component deliveries.
By 1963, Gordon and Keeble had received the backing they needed to get production going. They contracted Williams & Pritchard to build the bodies, while General Motors presented them with small-block V8 engines.
An updated version of the Gordon-Keeble was shown at the 1964 Geneva Motor Show, with the car being praised by the press. The motor had impressive torque, could go from 0 – 60 in six seconds and the interior tastefully combined British and Italian influences together.
In order to compete with models like the Jaguar E-Type, the Gordon-Keeble was priced at £2798. The low price didn’t help it fair any better in a crowded market, though thanks to the car’s popularity, the company was able to keep its head above the water in 1965.
A new model called the Gordon-Keeble IT was introduced at a price of £4000. Keeble left the company in 1966, which signalled the eventual collapse of the business. Gordon-Keeble went into liquidation in 1967.
Today, there are thought to be over 90 Gordon-Keebles left in existence. The stylishness of the car has ensured its held up well in the modern era.