13th August 2020

The 'unicorn' Unipower GT – Chic and Quick in equal measure.

The Unipower GT is a British production special made in high quality and in low volume between 1966 and 1970. Just 72 of these pocket-rocket GT cars were built at the time, and of these, only 10 remain in the UK, most of them seldom seen.

Designed by racers Ernie Unger and Val Dare-Bryan, the car was packaged by the same draughtsman behind the Ford GT40. The Unipower used a highly advanced space frame design, in which the engine was mid-mounted for ideal handling. Enjoying a highly aerodynamic body made in lightweight, moulded fiberglass, the car was light and strong. The car is powered by a BMC A-series transverse engine and driveline.

Tim Carpenter has been insuring his car, the first production chassis, with Footman James for years. His is the only one remaining in regular use on UK roads. We caught up with him in advance of it being displayed at the upcoming London Concours.

“I always describe the car as being ‘chic and quick’. It has joint appeal in that petrol-heads love it for the engineering quality of the car from the real heyday of the GT while, for the fashionista crowd, its design is very much of the swinging 60’s – miniskirts, big hair and small sportscars.

“The design was very advanced for a road car at that time and it shows in the space frame construction and the layout of the engine and transmission. You can really see the links to the racing sportscar designs of the period.

“My car has the motor bored out to 1398 cc and produces a punchy 100bhp at the flywheel so has a power to weight ratio of around 160bhp / ton. It may be simple by today’s standards but it's actually very comfy to drive, and the handling gives you total confidence. It's not hard to drive at all.

“I’m looking forward to the concours. My car is no “trailer queen”. The rest of the time I use it an awful lot and I really enjoy driving it to shows and on track-days. I’ve had the pleasure of attending Chateau Impney Hillclimb and concours, the London Classic Car Show and countless others. It’s always great to be able to talk to people through the car and its engineering. I’m happy for them even to sit in it to get a better impression of its personality”

The Unipower GT will be appearing in the ‘Lost Marques’ category, sponsored by Footman James at the London Concours. Due to take place on the 19th of August, it will be held at the Honourable Artillery Company, in the City of London.

Great car. 60/70s halcyon years.

Scim, 14/08/2020

Cracking little car - and great you are using it was meant to be used. Best of good luck at the concours too! J

JJ, 13/08/2020