Friday, March 25, 2011

A Pair of Peerless

Peerless was another great tiny British car company. The story behind it is pretty interesting...

The Peerless GT was built from 1957 - 1960. It used Triumph TR3 running gear, but had it's own frame and suspension. The body was made of fiberglass.

The idea for this car came from a British restaurant owner named Jimmy Byrnes. Byrnes asked a man by the name of Bernie Rodgers to design a race car for him. Rodgers did, and the prototype was initially given the name "Warwick". Reaction to the car from people who saw it was very positive and Byrnes and Rodgers decided to see if there might be a market for it. Byrnes showed the prototype car to John Gordon, a friend who owned a used car lot. Gordon suggested some revisions and eventually Byrnes, Rodgers and Gordon formed a company to produce the cars.

The name change from Warwick to Peerless happened after the partners acquired a bankrupt car dealership. It once sold American made Peerless vehicles. The three partners liked the Peerless name and renamed the car. (The US Peeerless company hadn't produced cars since the 1930s. After the repeal of prohibition in 1933, Peerless converted their automobile factory into a brewery and started brewing Carling's Black Label. Sometime in the 1970s they sold it to the Pabst Brewing Company.)

The demand for the Peerless GT was very good. Meeting the demand was not. The bodies were manufactured by an outside company and they could not create them fast enough. Eventually Peerless contracted with another company to manufacture the bodies, but by that time fighting among the partners caused Gordon to leave the company. With him went most of the company's energy and enthusiasm and the company folded in 1960. (Gordon went on to form the Gordon-Keeble car company.)

Just 325 cars were built before the company collapsed. (Later, Byrnes and Rodgers built another 75 or so under the old Warwick name.)

The cars being offered for sale need restoration, but they are complete. Parts for the TR3 running gear is easy to find. The bodies, being fiberglass, will have no rust issues. The frame is steel, but it's mostly rectangular tubing that would be relatively easy to repair if there is any rust.

Located in Sun Valley, CA, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

2 comments:

MarkIXSwede said...

I forwarded this find to bringatrailer.com, another favorite site of mine, besides yours, and they indicated that this one has popped up, nearly identically (same pics) on craigslist back in May '09. Curious....

Chris Keen said...

My father picked one of the last ones up from the factory in 1960ish when Peerless had gone into receivership. He sold it to a guy who exported it to the Bahamas, I believe...