Berkeley's first production car was the 'Sports' (type SA322), announced in September 1956 and produced from October 1956 to January 1957. It was a glass-fibre monocoque, two-seater open tourer powered by a British Anzani twin-cylinder 322 cc two-stroke engine producing 15 bhp (11 kW; 15 PS) and mounted transversely driving the front wheels via a chain and three speed gearbox. The engine was already used by various small motorcycle manufacturers such as Cotton and Greeves, but in the Berkeley was fitted with a Siba Dynastart to provide both battery charging and electric starting. It was a very clever little two stroke engine which incorporated a rotary inlet valve mechanism in the centre of the crankshaft.

The car had all round independent suspension by coil springs and in spite of the tiny engine gave remarkably good performance owing to its light weight (kerb weight 700 lb (320 kg)) and excellent roadholding. Girling hydraulic brakes with 7 in (180 mm) drums were used.

Although usually configured as a two seater with simple bench seat, a hatch could be removed from behind the front seat revealing a compartment normally containing the spare wheel and some luggage space which could double as a basic seat for a small child. Equipment was basic, even the fuel gauge was an extra. This car has often incorrectly been called the B60 to make it 'fit' with the later model names, but it was never marketed under that name. The identification plate was a plain stamped alloy rectangle fitted on the engine bay side wall just above the Dynastart and marked SA322 B1 etc. (Sports Anzani 322cc Berkeley Chassis number 1). The gearbox was a three speed type HJR5, and these cars had sloping front edges to the doors so that when the doors were opened they hinged upwards and closed by themselves.

After 163 of the SA322 cars had been manufactured, a change was made to the SE328 model with a 328 cc Excelsior engine offering 18 bhp (13 kW; 18 PS). The production run ran from Jan 1957 to April 1958 with chassis numbers from 164 to 1422, many being exported to the United States where it sold for approximately $1600. The manufacture touted the number 70, meaning it could reach 70mph and had an average fuel economy of 70 mpg. The export model was differentiated by having separate headlamps whereas on the home market they were faired into the wings, although the export type lamps could be specified.

Early cars from Jan 1957 to about chassis number 476 in June 1957 still used a column gear change. During their production run a Deluxe model was offered which was bodily the same but featured polished wheel trims and spinners, tachometer and twin carburettors. The chassis plate was similar to the Anzani type on the early cars but was later changed to a printed type fitted to the bulkhead above the brake master cylinder. The printed type chassis plate had type ‘SE328’ printed on it. Most of these cars had the three-speed gearbox similar to the Anzani except for the mounting flanges. All of the cars had the sloping leading edges to the doors.

The Motor magazine tested a 328 cc Berkeley in 1957 and found it to have a top speed of 62.1 mph (99.9 km/h) and acceleration from 0-50 mph (80 km/h) in 30.6 seconds. A fuel consumption of 58.3 miles per imperial gallon (4.85 L/100 km; 48.5 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £574 on the home market including taxes of £152 (equivalent to £10.3 thousand today).

The SE328 enjoyed considerable success and press exposure through their involvement with lightweight motor racing, and their famous drivers included Pat Moss who drove one in the 1958 Liège-Brescia-Liège rally for cars up to 500cc. The Berkeley team – a works-supported entry of six cars including BBC commentator Robin Richards – led as far as Slovenia, but slow climbing in summer heat found their weakness and Pat ended up being towed back to Italy by another Berkeley.

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Berkeley vehicles

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