Car producer :
Kieft Cars, founded by Cyril Kieft, was a British car company that built Formula Three racing cars and some road going sports cars in a factory in Derry St, Wolverhampton.
Cyril Kieft was born in Swansea and spent his early working life in the steel industry. After the Second World war he started up his own company Cyril Kieft and Co Ltd in Bridgend, Glamorgan, making forgings and pressings including components for the motor industry. He had an interest in motor racing and, when the Formula Three car manufacturer Marwyn failed, he bought their designs and used them as a base for his own 500cc car.
Several of these were sold and some competition success resulted. Publicity was gained by successful attempts on a series of records at Montlhéry in France. One of the drivers was Stirling Moss, who explained the shortcomings of the cars. As a result of this, a new design was acquired, Moss and his manager Ken Gregory became directors, and the company moved to new premises at Reliance Works in Derry Street, Wolverhampton.
A new design by Gordon Bedson, who had joined the company from the aircraft industry, was produced in time for the 1951 Whit Monday Meeting at Goodwood where it won the Formula Three event driven by Moss. Don Parker won the 1952/53 Autosport championship driving a Kieft while Ken Wharton and Bernie Ecclestone were other noteworthy exponents. A two-seater sports car powered by a 650cc BSA engine was developed from the F3 design but did not enter production. Kieft's next venture into sports cars was with a batch of central steerers, designed by Gordon Bedson, formerly the Chief Experimental Engineer at Vickers. Bedson's design featured aluminium bodywork, which had been inspired by similar designs by Veritas and Gordini. The central-steerer was available with either 2.0-litre Bristol or 1.5-litre MG engines, or could be ordered as a chassis only. Eight cars were completed initially with a further four built later.
Between 1953 and 1954, Kieft designed a Formula One car. It was designed to accommodate a Coventry-Climax Godiva engine, but the engine was not released in time due to fears it would be uncompetitive, and the project was shelved.
In 1954, Cyril Kieft developed a Coventry Climax-engined two-seater with a complete bodyshell in glassfibre: believed the very first automotive application of this material. Six of these two-seaters were built in 1954 after Kieft realised the Coventry Climax FWA 1100cc engine would make a good lightweight power unit for his race cars (Kieft was the first manufacturer to use the Climax FWA, before even Colin Chapman at Lotus). The engine delivered 72bhp at 6,400rpm and drove via a Moss gearbox, endowing the Kieft with a maximum speed of at least 110mph and a fuel consumption of 50mpg. The chassis was fabricated from 3¼" steel tube, forming a ladder frame. Suspension was independent all round with coil springs and wishbones at the front and a transverse leaf spring at the rear. The braking was by 11" cast drums, which also served as hubs, while the steering was rack and pinion. With its sleek, low drag, glassfibre body, the Kieft was at the cutting edge of contemporary sports car design.
The company was losing money and at the end of 1954 Kieft sold the company to racing driver Berwyn Baxter.
Kieft Cars left Wolverhampton in 1956 and moved to nearby Birmingham, where they concentrated on preparing and tuning other makes of cars. There were plans for a return to making Kieft cars but these failed to materialise. The company was sold again in 1960 and changed its name to Burmans.
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