1959 Peerless GT

In the late 1950s, John Gordon (later of Gordon-Keeble fame) and James Byrnes approached Bernie Rodger, a racing mechanic with considerable experience in spaceframe construction, to help them create a new 2+2 sports car. The prototype was named the Warwick, but by the time the production car was ready to sell in 1958, it was renamed the Peerless GT.

The Peerless GT featured Italianate styling, leaf-sprung De Dion rear suspension and a drivetrain sourced from Triumph consisting of the TR3’s pushrod 2.0-litre engine, overdrive gearbox, front suspension, and front disc brakes.  Production bodies were now of made of fiberglass construction instead of the prototype's aluminum. A very capable car, the Peerless stood apart from competitors by offering room for a small family and their luggage. The Peerless was good for a top speed of more than 110mph and was relatively affordable, approximately the price of a Jaguar 2.4-litre sedan.

In 1958 a Peerless first participated in the Le Mans 24 Hour Race. The only four-seater in the field, it finished a respectable 16th place overall. Despite an enthusiastic reception and all the valuable publicity gained from its Le Mans appearances, Peerless was soon in financial trouble and production ceased in 1960 after an estimated 325 cars had been made. Bernie Rodger then revived the design in an improved form as the Warwick, but by the end of 1961, it was gone as well.

This fascinating 1959 Peerless, S/N GT200278, #278 is one of approximately 50 Phase II examples produced. It was purchased by the current owner and imported to the U.S. Restoration work performed under current ownership included a high-quality repaint of the fiberglass bodywork. The color was changed from blue to the current color Florida Green, a beautiful Austin-Healey color with black and white over-the-top stripes.  Features include leather trunk lid straps, dual chrome fuel filler caps, a cowl-mounted electrical cutoff switch, Talbot side-view mirrors, a hood scoop, driving lamps and last but not least, a small set of tail fins.

The 15″ wire wheels with knock-off hubs are wrapped with a set period-style Avon crossply tires, for an authentic stance and handling. A spare chrome wire wheel with a Goodyear GT 80 tire rests in the trunk of the car. The racing-inspired tubular steel frame features a double-wishbone front suspension and a De Dion rear axle with leaf springs. Stopping power is provided by 11″ Girling front disc brakes and 10″ rear drums.

The interior features fixed-back bucket seats with adjustable lumbar support that were reupholstered in gray leather by Midwest Auto Tops & Upholstery of Orland Park, Illinois, in March 2018. A matching headliner, dash trim, and door panels were fitted at that time along with contrasting black carpets. Additionally, the inviting interior is equipped with a locking glovebox, billet shift knob, under-dash map light, and a fire-suppression system, as well as a highly desirable Halda Speedpilot rally timer. A full complement of Smiths instrumentation includes a 120-mph speedometer, a 6,000 rpm tachometer, and auxiliary gauges.

The lively Triumph inline-four was rebuilt and bored to 2,288cc by TR Enterprises of Mansfield, England, in 2010 and subsequently fitted with dual Weber 45 DCOE carburetors and resealed in July 2016. Additional upgrades include a finned TR Enterprises valve cover, a high-torque starter motor, an electronic distributor, four-into-one exhaust headers, and an electric cooling fan. The fire-suppression system is plumbed into the engine bay.

The powerful Peerless is shifted through a four-speed manual transmission with a Laycock De Normanville overdrive on third and fourth gears. A lightened flywheel and an AP Racing clutch were added along with a Salisbury differential that was rebuilt in 2003. Dual Facet electric fuel pumps were installed under previous ownership, and new fuel hoses were added recently as well.

The pretty Peerless has led an active life with several enthusiastic owners. It took part in the 2012 Pomeroy Trophy at Silverstone, and later the Beaujolais Run charity rally, demonstrating its versatility as a circuit racer and Grand Tourer. In most recent ownership and since its cosmetic restoration, it was shown at the prestigious 2023 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

This stunning Peerless GT is equally ready for the road or the track. Close attention to detail is evident in every area of this rare car. Accompanying the Peerless are service records, V5C documents, articles about the car, tool roll, and a pair of British number plates.

Quick, snappy, and a blast to drive, this rare and highly enjoyable automobile is perfect for the sports car enthusiast who desires something unusual, but demands quality and performance.


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