Berkeley is back with a brand-new Bandit | Top Gear
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BBC TopGear

Berkeley is back with a brand-new Bandit

Get your Bs in order. The Brit-based builder is back in Biggleswade

Published: 30 Oct 2020

Anyone here remember Berkeley? You’re completely forgiven if you don’t – the Biggleswade-based company produced mainly microcars way back in the 1950s but went into liquidation during a failed attempt at launching a mainstream sports car in 1960.

That car would have been known as the Bandit, and despite involvement from Ford (who were supposed to be supplying a 1.0-litre engine), only two prototypes managed to make it out of the factory before the company died.

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Now though, 60 years after its demise, Berkeley is back thanks to former aviation and automotive designer Martin Rees and motorsport engineer Simon Scleater. The pair are relaunching the marque with a new Bandit Roadster and Bandit GT and the press release states that they’re ‘keen to continue the spirit of the brand but add a modern twist underpinned by sustainable technology’.

So, the new Bandit in both forms will use a composite chassis (the Berkeley SA322, launched in 1956, was the world’s first composite production car) but it’ll be made using plant-based materials. Yep, it’s vegan. That means flax will replace carbon fibre and sticky tree resins will apparently replace the usual chemical resins.

Both cars will be mid-engined with a range of powertrain options that include internal combustion, hydrogen fuel cell (further down the line) and battery electric drive. There’ll also be two and four-wheel drive configurations.

What do we think of the looks? Pretty smart renders, right? The Bandit has been designed by young Lithuanian designer Vladas Trakselis and the Roadster clearly draws on inspiration from its 1960 namesake.

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Berkeley also mentions that the new cars will be built on the same aerodrome site as where the company’s story began all those years ago. Apparently, we can expect to see sixty examples of the GT and Roadster, each one costing between £40,000-£60,000.

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