But it was in Slough, in the early 60s, that a pair of British men conceived what is now arguably the best classic British car you have never heard of, the Gordon-Keeble GK1. It was at Southampton airport where they built it. The two designers' plan was to create a beautifully-styled and incredibly fast car, which could still carry four people in the utmost style and comfort.
The chassis was designed in Turin by the now-legendary Giorgio Giugiaro, of Italian manufacturers Bertone. Before long, he would go on to design another British classic, the Lotus Espirit. Built in lightweight fibreglass, the GK1 chassis is a beautiful assemblage of masculine curves and continental class. Complementing the elegant styling was all-out American muscle, in the shape of a powerful Corvette V8 engine beneath the hood.
All that -- plus a suitably luxurious interior -- added up to car which was the equal, and in some cases the superior, of its competitors: the Ferrari 330 GT, Jaguar Mk10 and Mercedes 300 SE. An early prototype of the GK1, the Gordon-Keeble GT, even featured in the classic racing film, The Green Helmet, starring Sid James. So why have so few people heard of the name Gordon-Keeble?
For one thing, between 1964 and 1966 -- when production ceased because of financial problems -- just 99 cars were produced. A one-hundredth and final GK1 was built in 1967 from parts left over after the business had shuttered. But thanks to a combination of the fantastic build-quality and the loyalty of those who owned the car -- and those who aspire to -- roughly 90% of the 100 original cars survive to this day.
They are now so rare, that buying one is more-or-less impossible, but like a beautiful and endangered bird, their conservation is still a priority for the select band of people lucky enough to possess one. Speaking of animals, the one on Gordon-Keeble's badge is, oddly enough, a Tortoise. At the time, it was regarded as an ironic choice of icon for such a tremendously fast car. But while it may have started as a bit of an in-joke, the way the GK1 has lasted the pace is indeed very Tortoise-like. Perhaps it is not such an ironic logo, after all.
If you ever get the chance to drive one, do.