Vintage sportscars are awesome. They embody a time where driving purity was king above all else; and, arguably, the rarer they are, the cooler. This 1958 Berkeley Sports SE328 we found at Bring a Trailer takes the rarity element pretty far.
The car, which is being sold as a project, saw some extensive racing in its heyday and has the bumps and bruises to prove it – we also dig the Mobile Oil pegasus logo, the lucky number seven and the leather bonnet straps.
First, a quick history lesson on the Berkeley Sports SE328. Berkeley, the Bedfordshire, England-based company was in business for a mere four-year run and exclusively produced front-wheel-drive micro-sportscars with motorcycle derived engines. While one might derive that the SE328 nomenclature hints at a cubic-inch displacement, they would only be partially right.
The “328” does allude to the engine’s size but it is a measurement of cubic centimeters, not inches. That’s right, the powerplant of the SE328 is an inline twin that displaces a microscopic 328cc. Branded the Excelsior, the buzzy little two-stroke produces a whopping 18 horsepower, which was transferred to the front tires via three-speed gearbox, drive chains, sprockets and stub axles.
Despite the small engine, the car could achieve 0-50 mph in 30-seconds, a top speed of 70 mph and a fuel economy of 70 mpg, all of which were impressive by 1950s standards. Despite all 18 horses working overtime, it’s safe to say this little guy was momentum car – heavy on the momentum. However, with its ahead-of-its-time fiberglass and aluminum composite body and 68-inch wheel base, we bet this little car was a blast to huck around corners on a curvy road or closed course. The 18-horsepower engine likely kept speeds in the legal range as well.
The car up for sale is obviously in need of a full restoration, but it seems that most of the parts are there – the eBay ad shows heaps of trim and chassis pieces. The engine needs a full rebuild; but, being a two-stroke with minimal moving parts, that job is less daunting than with a conventional multi-cylinder, four-stroke engine.
It was last driven in 1979 and has been stored under a temperature-controlled – not really – oak tree for nearly 40 years.
The ad doesn’t specify the racing history of the car, but a black and white photo of a similar in action is included in the listing. The little number seven has clearly hit the circuit more than a few times and we hope that someone with a motorsport-loving heart will give the car a new, loving home.
The current bid on the car is $3,300, which doesn’t seem like a terribly steep price for something dripping with this much history. It would be amazing to see a full restoration, but for the gear-head-afflicted, the urge to retro-fit a modern high-revving 2-stroke or even a 4 stroke seems tough to resist. With such a light and nimble chassis every additional horsepower would be a noticeable improvement!