Leon Berbia en Cie., better known as Berbia is a Brunanter manufacturer of sport and racecars.
Leon Berbia (1884-1926) was a Barzuna race car driver and one of the earliest in Brunant. He brought over several Alfa Romeo's in the late 1910s and was a founding organizer of a Brunanter rally (a precursor to the Brunants-Rally). Berbia entered automobile manufacturing in 1923 when he built a small racecar. Berbia himself drove the cars at various events. At the 1926 San Sebastián Grand Prix, Berbia lost control of his car at 75 mph and he died at the race.
His son Martin (1905-1997) would take control of the company. He did not race, but in 1932 expanded the company's operations to building sports cars. During WWII the company stopped production, but several German officers died driving a Berbia at high speeds on the twisty roads.
In the postwar period, Berbia's became heavily associated with the Prussian Blue color, used on their most successful cars and the logo.
The Type 199 was the first production Berbia. Introduced in 1932, this sports car was quick and very popular; 43 were sold by 1935. The 199 was modified the Type 200 in 1935. Based on the 6C's suspension, this car's reputation (and sales) were bolstered by the success of racing Berbia's in the late 1930s. Production of the 200 ended in 1938.
The 250 was one of the longest-produced Berbia models in its history. The 250 was introduced in 1936 as a "comfortable sports car". Priced at Th. 10,000, it was not cheap but was a very well made machine. Performance was very good, with a 0-60 mph time (in 1939) of 7.5 seconds, and a top speed of 90 mph. Production was stopped in 1941 but production resumed post-war, in 1946. In 1953 the car was redesigned, though staying mechanically the same and this updated version was made until 1957. In 17 years of production, 220 cars were produced, of which some 40 are still around.
The GT300 was a midsized grand tourer introduced in 1951. The original concept (and a few other models) came in a two-toned Prussian Blue/Silver combination, but most production models were monotone. This car featured a 256 HP V8 that gave the car a cruising speed of 105 mph. production of this model continued until 1956. This model was the winner of the Brunants-Rally in 1954, 1955 and 1957, and consistently placed in the top 10 spots.
The GT400 was the second GT model to come from the Berbia garages. This car was lighter (200 lbs less than the 300), faster (top speed: 112 mph) and more powerful (265 hp V8) than the previous model. The car was introduced in Koningstad in May 1955 and garnered a lot of attention. Production began in late 1956 after the last GT300 were produced and it continued until 1964. The model was updated in 1961 and it got a new interior.
The 260 was the successor to the small Type 250. While it was slightly larger, it was still more performance oriented than the GT400. It came originally as a coupe, but in 1958 a roadster version was introduced. The roadster was priced at Th. 22,000, about 5000 more than the coupe. Performance was blistering for this age, with the V6 churning out 255 hp; this allowed a 0-60 time of 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 120. Production ceased in 1967 after 400 cars were produced.
The Type 270 sports car became the most successful Berbia of the postwar era. The concept was introduced at the Paris Auto Show in 1966. The design was extremely modern, compared to Berbia's previous models. The 270 entered production in 1968 as a coupe and roadster, with the coupe outselling the soft top 3:1 that year. Priced originally at Th. 15,000 (a steal at about US$6000) there was huge interest in this car.
In 1973 an 270A version was introduced, with updated styling and lighter body panels. The 270A outsold the 270 within 3 years of introduction. When production ceased in 1980, 1150 coupes and 415 roadsters had been made.
The 1980s saw a return to Grand Tourer cars with the GT500. This car was presented as a concept in 1984 and the production version came in 1985. The GT500 was heavily focused on luxury, and the interior was all-leather with wood. For a larger GT, it was quite fast and was able to do 145 mph (and 0-60 mph in 5 seconds).
The GT500 was redesigned in 1991 with updated sportier styling and interior. This car was priced at about Th. 82,000, which was quite high for the time. But, with improved performance and better handling this car worth it to own. Total production for this car (1985-1998) totaled 1048 cars.
The GT550 was the successor to the GT500, though it did not come for a few years. It was a completely new design. The car was mid-engined and had a 485 HP V8 which allowed the car to reach a top speed (limited) of 155 mph. Production of the GT550 began in 2005 for the coupe and in 2006 for the roadster. This car was originally priced at €55,000, though the coupe starts at a hefty €67,500 as of 2012.
Berbia's first race car was the Model 5 (1923-1927). This car participated in various European events and preformed well. The highest speed achieved on a Model 5 was 79 mph in 1926. The model 5 was succeded by the Model 6 (1926), the 6A (1927-29), 6B (1929-1934) and the Model 8 (1933). A lighter and nimbler 5A model followed in 1935, which accelerated and cornered better than the 6-cylinder models. The most famous of the prewar racecars was the 6C, which won the King's Cup in Motorsport in 1935, 1936 and 1938, becoming the only Brunanter manufacturer to win it before WWII.
1940s and 1950sEdit
In 149 the Berbia 215 was introduced in order to compete in Formula 1. In 1952 Berbia entered endurance racing with the 600 model. This small 6-cylinder model was very successful in motorsport circles. Six road legal models were produced, but they burnt down in a factory fire before delivery could take place. This car competed until 1956.
- ↑ Names for early race cars were based on how many cylinders the engine had.