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Supporting Documents.

Road Test: The Motor Cycle Magazine. 15th October 1959. (Page 344).


328 c.c. Berkeley 3-wheeler

A Fascinating, Front-wheel-drive Sports Car which combines Economy with Liveliness and Superb Cornering. By David Dixon.

When I first laid eyes on the sleek, aerodynamic styling of the front-wheel-drive Berkeley 3-wheeler I immediately classed it as a light sports car with 3 wheels. Indeed, the car looks almost exactly like its earlier four-wheel counterpart and the constructional details are similar. Body and chassis are formed as a unit. Bonded to the glass-reinforced plastic body are two aluminium-alloy bulkheads and cross-members. The forward bulkhead, with extensions, supports the 328 c.c. twin-cylinder Excelsior two-stroke engine-gear unit and independent wishbone suspension of the front wheels. The other bulkhead provides mounting points for the trailing arm which carries the rear wheel.

Looking at the diminutive size and low build, one might think that space would be cramped. Such is not the case. The 27in-wide doors give easy entry and exit, even with the hood up, and there is ample leg and head room for two large adults.

Settled behind the 16in steering wheel one immediately feels part and parcel of the car. The bench-type seat, which is somewhat thinly padded, is at floor level and consequently one's legs are stretched almost straight to the pendant-type control pedaIs. For me the seating was just right but the 41in reach from the back of the seat, which is not adjustable, to the pedals might necessitate the use of a back cushion by a person with shorter legs.

Layout of the controls is in orthodox car fashion. I found the accelerator too close to the brake pedal for comfort. The hand brake lever is mounted on the right beneath a capacious parcels shelf. Gear changing is by means of a 7in lever centrally positioned and operating in a gate. On the standard model which I drove the only instrument on the dashboard was an easily read 120 m.p.h. trip speedometer which proved commendably accurate. Provision is made for

Above: View of the functianal cockpit showing the dashboard layout. The knobs on the left control the headlamp and windscreen wipers, next, is a blanked orifice for a rev-meter; the second blanked-off space is for an ammeter and fuel gauge. Ignition switch, horn and starter buttons are in the middle. Trafficator switch and warning flasher are on the extreme right. Below There is ample room in the tail for luggage.

Below: The Excelsior power unit is rubber mounted: drive to the front wheels is through a differential and half-shafts.

mounting a rev-meter, ammeter and fuel gauge, which are all optional extras. The only point about the dashboard layout which called for criticism was the horn button which is to the left of the ignition switch: the button could not be reached easily in a hurry and proved too small for quick operation.

Driving the little Berkeley proved to be a delight. Initially the engine was treated gently as only 215 miles were registered on the milometer. But as the engine and gear box gradually became run-in the pace was increased accordingly. Even at small throttle openings the power available was quite lusty and throughout the throttle range the, engine displayed an aptitude for hard work. Acceleration from about one-third throttle opening upward was impressive. Just how lively the vehicle can be was proved by a standing quarter-mile covered (without a passenger) in 26.6s.

Comfortable cruising speed was in the region of 50 m.p.h and the mean maximum speed proved to be 60 m.p.h. Thanks to the rubber mountings of the engine, no vibration was felt at any time.

Fuel economy was almost startling. At a steady 30 m.p.h. the consumption was 62.5 m.p.g. but at a steady 40 m.p.h. the figure. improved to 72 m.p.g. At 50 m.p.h. the consumption averaged 60.8 m.p.g. and the overall figure for the test was just under 60 m.p.g.

Most main-road hills were surmounted in top gear provided a clear run could be obtained. On all but the steepest gradients it was never necessary to drop below third. Starting from a standstill without a passenger on a gradient of 1 in 7 was accomplished with little fuss but with a ten-stone passenger aboard considerable clutch slipping was required. The clutch, incidentally, was fierce in its take-up of the drive.

The gear ratios are very well chosen but a shorter, more precise movement of the lever to give more positive selection would speed up the gear changing. Normal upward changes were made at 14, 25 and 35 m.p.h. but in restricted areas top gear could comfortably be engaged well below 30 m.p.h. Indeed, the Berkeley would woffle along happily at 20 m.p.h. in top-gear and the speed could be dropped right down to 12 m.p.h. before transmission, snatch set in. If the need arose the speedometer needle could be made to indicate 18, 33 and 44 m.p.h. in the indirect ratios. Full advantage could be taken of the acceleration without offending bystanders; for the exhaust note was excellently subdued.

One of the most endearing characteristics of the Berkeley is its road holding. No matter what antics I performed there was never any -indication that r was driving a three-wheeler. As with most front-wheel-drive cars, power must be applied .when cornering as otherwise considerable under-steer results. When cornering, quickly over undulations the rear wheel tended to step- out a few inches but that merely added to the zest. With the power turned on, sharpish bends could be rounded really fast without the slightest suggestion of the inside wheel lifting. The chosen line could be adhered to within a hair's breadth. The ,higher the speed, the lighter the steering became. There was virtually no castor action.

Over all normal main roads the comfort afforded by the independent suspension was first class. With a passenger aboard, the rear suspension unit was prone to bottom over fairly rough surfaces. The front suspension could also be made to bottom but only under extreme conditions. In keeping with the general performance, the braking was faultless. The stopping figure achieved was 3Oft from 30 m.p.h. The lights allowed full performance to be used at night and, when dipped, gave a satisfactory cut-off.

A surprising feature of the Berkeley is the amount of stowage space. Behind the bench seat is an occasional seat for two small children and behind that there is space enough for several traveling bags or small suitcases. Capacious side pockets provided in the doors are useful for maps and odds and ends. A factor which did not impress was the lack of a fuel reserve tap.

What little maintenance would normally be required bearing in mind the two-stroke engine and straightforward construction can be carried out easily with the tool kit provided.



    ENGINE and TRANSMISSION Air-cooled, petrol-lubricated, Excelsior 328 cc. (58 x 62mm) twin-cylinder two-stroke in unit with Albion four-speed-and-reverse gear box, -Primary drive by chain, through a multi-plate wet clutch. Secondary drive by chain to a differential and then through Hardy-Spicer universal joints and half-shafts' to the front wheels. Gear ratios: bottom, 25.77 to I second, 5.72 to I third, 11.09 to I; -top, 7.98 to I: reverse, 27.53 to I.

    ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT: Siba Dynastart 12-volt starter-generator. Ignition by twin coils. Wipac 5in double-dipping headlamps. Exide 12-volt 32-amp-hour battery. flasher direction indicators.

    SUSPENSION: independent on all three wheels: unequal-length wishbone, at front and trailing arm at rear: control by Armstrong telescopic spring units incorporating hydraulic damping.

    WHEELS and BRAKES: l2in-diameter pressed-steel wheels with five-stud fixing. Michelin 5.20in-section tyres. Girling 7in hydraulic brakes, twin leading shoe front and leading and trailing rear. Cable-operated hand brake on rear.

    FUEL CAPACITY: 3f gallons. Petrol ratio, 16 to I.

    DIMENSIONS: Track, 3ft 9in (overall width, 4ft 2.5in); wheelbase, 7ft 3m (overall length, lOft .4in); weight, with full equipment (including tools and jack) and approximately if gallons of petroil, 763 lb.

    PRICE: Basic, 330 ils 4d; induding British purchase tax, 399 19s 11d.

    MANUFACTURERS Berkeley Cars Ltd., Hitchin Street, Biggleswade, Beds.

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