GBSC - Great British Sports Cars [The End?]


  • Gabriel Zakowski, Polish Refugee after WW2
  • Christopher Greenway, English Businessman and Aircraft Mechanic During WW2
  • Lucien Vear, English Tank Mechanic During WW2
  • Armand Jacquemoud, French Artist turned Automotive Designer

Christopher and Lucien, good friends since high school, always had an interest in Engines. Be they Aircraft, Tank, or Boat. Christopher had completed a business degree just before WW2 had kicked off, meaning he had the knowledge for running a company. Lucien’s father had died in 1941, and his mother in 1943. This left him with a rather large sum of money from the estate and inheritance. They decided at that point to capitalise on Britain’s post-war economy. In 1947, Christopher and Lucien had purchased a large warehouse on the outskirts of Leeds. It was purchased with the intent to Produce and Maintain Aircraft engines. In 1948, Gabriel Zakowski had joined the team. Gabriel had previously been an Automotive Mechanic in his native Poland, and saw an opportunity to join this small company, at the time called Greenway-Vear Engines.

Come the tailend of 1948, of the 30-ish engines made, not a single one had sold to any company. Lucien and Christopher decided to strip down the engines, and sell what they had. Gabriel piped up at the idea of building automobiles, to which both Lucien and Christopher decided to follow through with in a “Why not?” decision. In January 1949, a notice was put out in the local newspapers for a company looking for an artist. Of the 10 responses, only one turned up to the interview. He was Armand Jacquemoud, a french Migrant after the outbreak of WW2. He was given a month to prepare a design, and was told to report back when he was done.

February 1949, and Armand had returned with a design. This design was instantly liked by Gabriel and Christopher. The Original design called for a rear-mounted flat-4 motor, however that was scrapped instead for a front mounted Inline 4, which would become the companies first produced vehicle.

The name would come about when Lucien wished to enter the first 125GT at LeMans. From then on, the company would be known as Great British Sports Cars.


If it weren’t for the brand being featured in a recent collector car auction, I would never have heard of this new company of yours. Anyway, I love that backstory you made and how it establishes the origins of GBSC.

GBSC 125 Series

The First Vehicle to roll off of GBSC’s warehouse production line was a LeMans Race Car, the 125 “Opentop” as it was named. It featured a front mounted 1,250cc Inline 4. This Vehicle would be instantly rushed off to LeMans, and finished an admirable 16th. Upon the return of the 125 OT, another 2 125’s had been made, the “Hardtop” [Pictured] and the “Softtop.” Coming around to the 1952 LeMans Event, Another “Opentop” had been made, however, the opentops had gotten an official designation as “GT.” In the space between LeMans 1951 and 1952, another 30 Hard and Soft tops had been made and Sold.


The 2 GTs were sent off to LeMans, to race in the 1952 24hr race. They were Numbered 33 and 64. #33 Finished an Admirable 12th, while #64 finished in 6th. These finishes Gathered the Interest of two teams. These teams placed specific orders for some GT models before the 1953 LeMans Event. The first was Admunsen Racing America, who ordered 2 GTs to race alongside their 2 Existing [PLACEHOLDER] cars. The other was Datcha Sports, who were a new Privateer team, so could only afford to order a Single GT. Both teams Received their GT models before the 1953 LeMans event. The GBSC Factory cars would reach 12th and 15th, the ARA cars, their 1st GT finished in 13th, while the other went out in hour 15 with a knocking issue that couldn’t be diagnosed. The Datcha GT finished a solid 21st, many laps down. These completions of the LeMans events however, helped bring GBSC to the attention of a more global audience. The Datcha GT was raced all across Europe in 1953 and 1954, with ARA taking their 2 GTs to the US and racing them in US GT series. Word had also begin to spread back to GBSC that people were racing the Hard and Soft tops in Amature and Lower Class events all around the UK and Europe.


1954 saw an expansion, as the 125 began being sold in the USA, through a Dealer in New York. Of the 60 car production in 1954, 10 Hard tops, and 5 Soft Tops were sold in the USA, while the rest were sold throughout the UK and France. 1955 saw GBSC Sell their 2 Factory GTs off to another privateer team, Pyramid Racing. 1955 LeMans saw the Pyramid GTs fail to Finish, One of the ARA GTs failed to Qualify, the Other Finished in 20th. The Datcha GT Finished a Respectful 7th. 1956 saw ARA pull out of LeMans, as wells as Pyramid. Pyramid Sold GT #1 back to GBSC (Who has owned it ever since), while GT #2 was sold in the US. ARA kept running the 125GT in the USA until 1959, where #3 was sold to a Collector, and #4 was sold to a private individual. Datcha Continued at LeMans with the GT until 1960, where the car was Retired, but kept under Datcha Ownership. At the end of Production in 1957/58, 5 GTs were made, and around 250 Hardtops and Softtops were Produced.

Fate of the GTs (As of Jan 1st 2018)

  • In Ownership of GBSC - Occasionally Displayed at Goodwood.
  • In Collection of a US Automotive Museum.
  • In Collection of a Collector in the USA
  • Crashed in 1995, Damaged Beyond Repair, Engine, Gearbox, Remaining Chassis, and some body panels on display in GBSC Main Lobby.
  • In Ownership of Datcha Racing Team, based out of Poland. - Occasionally Raced.

1963 - 1971 GBSC 400 Series

After the 125’s success in the global sphere, GBSC began to set their sights more local, the British Touring Car Championship. Some tooling was purchased from a local truck engine builder in 1959, and the First in a great line of GBSC V8’s was begun. This first engine was haphazardly mounted in the front of a 125 Hardtop, and engine testing had begun. 1961 rolls around, and the initial conception for the body had been completed. Yet again, a spaceframe chassis had been chosen due to ease of construction for the small team, and it’s lightness.

The first complete 400 rolled off the production line in 1963, and like the 125 before it, was immediately sent racing, thrust into the 1963 BTCC. With a less than fortunate run in the 1963 series, not many of the initial 400’s were sold. 1964 and 1965 saw much greater success for the 400 Touring models. Of the 3 entered into the 1964 Championship, they shared 4 race wins, and 6 podium finishes. Of the 5 entered into the 1965 Championship, they shared 5 race wins, 9 podiums and a single 1-2-3 finish.

Their use after 1967 slowed down as they became outclassed by newer cars from other companies. They did, however, pick up a use in European Rally, and some lightly modified versions were offered from the factory for rally use. They never did, however, officially support any rally teams using the 400s.

Production finally ceased for the 400 in 1971, after over 2,000 models had been produced and sold. The most notable 400 models were:

  • 400 #1, which was the 1st BTCC car, which was only raced in the ‘63 season
  • 400 #822, Which found success racing in Australia and New Zealand from 1965 onward.
  • 400 #1001, Which was the first reported 400 converted to rally use.
  • 400 #2101, the Final Production 400.

Moar tech details please :slight_smile:

1966 - 1971 GBSC M400 GT + GT-LM

After the success of the Normal 400, GBSC wanted to return to Le Mans racing. In 1964, a normal 400 was modified to fit the 4L V8 in the middle. This was seen as a great success, and was instantly commissioned to be developed further.


The Differences Between the GT and GT-LM models are Minor

In 1966, the first two M400’s rolled off the production line. The Normal M400 GT, and the racing M400 GT-LM. The First GT-LM’s didn’t go racing until 1967, and of the 20 made, 16 had been sold to privateer teams, leaving 4 in the GBSC factory stable. 9 GT-LMs lines up at LeMans in 1967. Only 1 finished the Race. That one went to Pyramid racing. The other 8 either dropped out with reliability issues, or crashed. 1968 was a better run. Another 16 GT-LM’s had been made, and all were sold out worldwide. At the 1968 LeMans event, 12 GT-LM’s lined up for qualifying. 8 qualified, with 2 cars within the top 10. Results were more positive this time around. 3 cars ended in the top 10, and only 2 cars dropped out of the race.


Differences include Missing Indicators, and an added Lip Spoiler

1969 saw an increased demand of GT models, and so a wait list was created, as GBSC were committed to keeping to the 50 model homologation target. Production of GT-LM models was halted in November of 1969, however the GT’s would continue on until late 1971, ending production alongside the standard 400 model.

Notable M400 models include:

  • M400 GT-LM #3: Sold at the ACC Auction for $75,000
  • M400 GT-LM #11: the Only Finisher at the 1967 LeMans Event.
  • M400 GT #250: The Last Produced M400 model.

1971 - 1975 GBSC 185 Buck

Even before the 400 left production, it’s replacement had begun being planned. This was planned to be a touring car, much like the 400, but made to be agile and maneuverable. An i6 was decided upon, 1.8L in size. It was tested in the 400 test chassis, and found, if the car was light enough, to be a capable racing motor. The drafted chassis for the 185 was to be smaller, and lighter than the previous 400. Yet again, spaceframe was chosen, and a RWD layout was chosen.


The “Buck” designation was chosen, as it was not the fastest, or the most powerful, but it used what had to run amok in the 1972 BTCC season. The 3 185’s entered, 2 by GBSC, and 1 Privateer, took a total of 2 race wins, and 5 podium finishes. The 185 was never dominant, it never truly competed with the Erins and Merciels, taking the odd win when it could, but generally were strong mid-pack finishers.


Sales were positive, with around 2,500 185’s sold by production end. The 185 was meant to continue on well into the Late 1970’s, however, fuel economy concerns began to set in, as the US oil crisis struck. Production was pulled in 1975, and a replacement instantly went into development.

Notable 185 models:

  • 185 #4; Took First win for the 185’s in BTCC
  • 185 #332; Converted to Rally Use for Amatur Rally in Scandinavia
  • 185 #2552; Last Produced 185 Model

1977 - 1981 GBSC 195 Turbo

After the moderate success of the 185, GBSC looked toward evolving upon the 185 formula. It’s successor saw a 100cc increase in the engine size of the Inline 6, and the addition of a turbocharger. The use of a Turbocharger was a unique and last second addition to the 195, as it was originally planned to use a Naturally Aspirated set-up.


The 195 saw some use in the BTCC, ETCC, and WTCC championships, however, saw much more purchase from regular buyers of fun cars. It saw widespread use from inception until well into the 1990’s as a trackday, and autocross car. Despite the large size, and low power, it was able to fling itself around a track with little issue.


The 195 however, would be a short lived. The Turbo was plagued with reliability issues, so GBSC cut production of the 195 in October of 1981, after around 1,500 had been produced and sold.

Notable 195’s include:

  • 195 #22; Competed in 1978 BTCC Championship
  • 195 #443; Famous American Autocross Vehicle
  • 195 #1551; Last Produced 195

Oh good, GBSC has a very similar founding premise to Armada Motors. I imagined that a lot of these kind of English companies might crop up post-WWII.

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The Random GBSC Builds

So, some engineers from GBSC like to have fun in their spare times. Over the years, they’ve made some rather interesting vehicles. These are just a few

1979 Brivo Roma "GBSC Special Edition"

Base car provided to me by @CadillacDave a small while ago

This is one of the Engineneer’s “Personal Projects.” Modifying a Base model '79 Roma wagon into a rather “era correct” machine. This included a change of paint, some more American style wheels, and other small visual changes.


inside, however is a different story. The original 1L i4 was thrown away. It was instead replaced by the V8 from the M400 GTLM. Also a conversion to RWD, for more fun times. All the extra seating was also tossed out, leaving a single bucket seat.


It strikes the border of fun and crazy. It does end up heavier than the base Roma, however, it gains much, much more performance, allowing for a 0-60 of 6 seconds, and a top speed of 228km/h.

1969 NSJK Karis "GBSC 400S"

Base Car Provided by @Grandea a small while ago

This was a factory project back in the 1990’s. Another built to a somewhat era correct standard, this 1500S was lightly modified into an autocross vehicle. It was fitted with another M400 GTLM V8.


Externally, the mirrors were changed, to a single drivers side, and wheels were modernised. Top speed of 211km/h, and a 6.3s 0-60 time.


This car would be retired in 2012, and placed into the GBSC Collection.

2017 NSJK Karis "The 3.5 Special

In 2017, someone somehow found another Karis. This one was turned onto it’s head. The most striking difference to the 400S was the Bolted flares, and pure dissection of the body. It lost all the chrome detailing, instead gaining swathes of carbon fibre and other small details.


under the skin is an entirely different beast. The Twin Turbo V10 out of the MV350 was placed at the front. It was then hooked up to a custom made AWD system. This allows for a 2.6 second 0-60 time, and a top speed of 276km/h. A 6 speed DCT was added to help bring it up to a more modern inside.


This Karis would be entered into the WTAC in the AWD Unlimited class, and finish within the top 5 consistently.


2020 GBSC MV500 Concept

Unveiled through a cross-promotion with Microsoft for a Forza Horizon 4 DLC, the MV500 Concept was created purely as a Digital Automobile first, real car second.
It features a 5L, Twin Turbocharged V10, making around 700hp at full tilt, and capable of 0-100km/h in 2.6s.

It Takes design influence from the new Digital age, and how automotive design has moved along with it. It also removes some of the more realistic restrictions from design, and instead embraces the more “silly” side of GBSC.

All in all, the MV500 is a unique experience for all to enjoy.


How much downforce this beast has?It looks crazy!

Note Before Lore Begins
Any GBSC Cars posted for any competitions, challenges or autoshows that date past about 1985 are considered non-canonical, including the concept posted above and the Special Builds. I’ve decided to change my thoughts on how the history of the company will progress from here. The SEMA 2018 cars, however are canonical

1984 - 1989 GBSC M195 Turbo

After the considered success of the 195 Turbo, GBSC saw foot in the rising success of other Low-volume car companies in continuing to create Mid-engined chassis through the 1970 and into the 1980s, particularly from Keika, Caliban, and others (If you know of any more let me know). This sparked an idea in the GBSC higher ups. Create the same.

The Initial Intention with the M195 Chassis was to mount another 4L V8 like the M400 back in 1966, however money had begun to run thin toward the end of the previous model’s production. Due to this, the same engine was reused, and the contracts with the suppliers were extended until the end of expected production in 1993.

Horror, however, had struck for GBSC in 1988. The loss they had been running since 1979 had finally caught up to the company. In May of 1988, Lucien Vear retired from his position in the company and sold what remained back to the company. Christopher Greenway stood down as CEO in July of that year and by November, the company was officially bankrupt. GBSC finished the remaining production of the M195 in 1989.