Richard Dredge
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Richard Dredge

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Richard Dredge
Author

Richard Dredge

Gill Getabout

The Gill Getabout was third in a series of four iterations of the same car, all made in tiny numbers

First there was the JARC Little Horse and then came the British Anzani Astra Utility. Next came the (almost) final link in the chain, the Gill Getabout before this project disappeared altogether in the form of the Australian-built Lightburn Zeta Runabout.

The Gill Getabout was unveiled in March 1958 and it was effectively a rebodied Astra Utility as that car's 322cc two-cylinder air-cooled engine was carried over, still mounted over the rear wheels.

The big difference between the Gill Getabout and its predecessors was that it was designed as a passenger car rather than as a small commercial vehicle. As such the bodywork featured more of a saloon profile; at first there was a coupé silhouette but within months this had been superseded by something that looked more like a hatchback, although the car still featured only two doors.

The Getabout's steel chassis underpinned a wooden frame over which were fitted aluminium panels. The idea was that as an urban runabout the Gill would probably suffer bodywork damage and this method of construction would allow quick, easy and cheap replacement of dented wings or doors. Apart from the windscreen all of the windows were made of plastic, to cut weight as well as costs.

With a kerb weight of just 325kg the Getabout was light enough, but it was too costly because the £332 basic price was inflated to £499 by the time purchase tax had been added – and that was for the basic version. The Getabout Deluxe was the car of sybarites with its bumpers, seat covers and indicators but that was even more costly at £523. This was at a time when a Fiat 500 cost £556, a Ford Popular£444 and an Austin A35 was priced from £569, which made the ultra-basic Getabout too costly to be appealing.

The first Gill Getabout deliveries were supposed to take place in May 1958 but it's not known if any were actually made, other than the two prototypes, each with a different body. There are certainly no known survivors.

 

Vital statistics
Produced 1958, England
Number built Unknown; possibly just two prototypes
Engine Mid-mounted, 322cc, 2-cylinder
Transmission 3-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power 15bhp
Top speed 55mph
Price £499

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