The Ex – Keith Greene, Ian Raby
1962 Gilby Formula 1
Gilby Engineering was formed by Syd Greene as a general engineering firm, and the company later became active in the world of Formula 1 during the 1950s. Greene had lost an arm in an accident during his teenage years, though this hadn’t stopped him from competing in speed trials. In 1954, Gilby Engineering had taken on a Maserati 250F Grand Prix car and Roy Salvadori was enlisted to drive.
Liveried in British Racing Green, the Gilby run Maserati competed in many Grand Prix, mainly nationally but also at World Championship level from 1954 to 1956. Salvadori achieved a best result of 11th place at the Italian Grand Prix in the Gilby Engineering Maserati. When Salvadori left to drive for Cooper in 1957, Ivor Bueb joined the equipe, competing with the Maserati in the British Grand Prix.
Greene’s son, Keith, had developed an interest in driving himself and Syd entered him in a few low-key handicap races to gain experience. The Greenes subsequently bought a Cooper sports car before upgrading to a Lotus Eleven in 1958 with Keith completing many races.
For 1959, Greene Snr sold the Maserati in order to acquire a rear-engine Cooper Formula 2 for Keith to campaign. He did so with promise, taking an impressive 2nd place Aintree, beaten only by Jean Behra’s Ferrari. 1959 also saw a change of sports car, with Gilby Engineering buying a new Lotus 17.
Keith struggled with the 17, and when Colin Chapman fired an assistant designer by the name of Len Terry, Syd Greene enlisted his help to try to make good of the 17. Terry, having worked on the 17 project for Chapman, had already expressed his concerns about the suitably of a Chapman strut for the front suspension, but Chapman had insisted. With Gilby Engineering, Terry modified their Lotus 17 front suspension to employ double wishbones. With the handling greatly improved, Chapman was dismayed and Lotus quickly launched a retrofit modification which would be available to 17 owners.
Impressed with Terry’s ability, Greene Snr collaborated with him to create the Gilby – Climax sports car in 1960. With similar cues to the Lotus 17, the svelte Gilby sports car employed an 1,100cc Coventry Climax engine and found success. Keith Greene won with it at Brands Hatch while Peter Arundell took 2nd place at Snetterton and 2nd in the 1.5-litre class in the British Grand Prix sports car race.
Buoyed by the experience and results of 1960, plans were made to produce a single Grand Prix car for Keith to drive in Formula 1 for 1961. Terry came up with a lightweight spaceframe design with conventional double wishbone front suspension, and wishbone with top link and twin trailing arm rear suspension. For power, a 1,500cc 4 cylinder Coventry Climax FPF engine was employed along with a Colotti 5 speed transaxle. Terry also allowed provision for an Intercontinental Formula, 2.7-litre Climax FPF to be fitted, although this never materialised.
Disc brakes and aluminium Girling callipers dealt with stopping and lightweight magnesium 15” Cooper wheels were used. The car was finished with a neat aluminium body and liveried in British Racing Green. Terry had designed the engine bay of the Gilby Formula 1 car in such a way that with the removal of three bolts on the chassis, there would be clearance to swiftly lift the engine and gearbox out together.
With Terry’s first Formula 1 design completed and referred to as the Type B, Gilby Engineering began testing at Goodwood ahead of its planned campaign. Keith Greene is said to have clocked a best lap time of 1:35 on the first outing. Also present was one Bruce McLaren, who at the time was driving for Cooper. McLaren was invited to try the Gilby and very quickly set a time of 1:28.9, just 0.1 seconds back from the 2-litre lap record of the time.
Another who sampled the Gilby during its first laps was Jack Fairman. The former Grand Prix driver took the Gilby around Goodwood and wrote about his experiences in the May 1961 issue of Motor Racing magazine. Fairman titled the track test ‘No vices at all – The Gilby F1’. Clearly impressed with the new Formula 1 car, Fairman quoted “I found the roadholding excellent” and “It was impressively stable round all corners, and sat down nicely over the bumps.” He also noted ‘A roomy cockpit by today’s F1 standards.’
Following the successful Goodwood test, the Gilby went on to race in early season British races before making its World Championship debut at the British Grand Prix in July at Aintree. A trip to the Roskilde Ring in Denmark followed before David Piper raced the Gilby at Oulton Park in the International Gold Cup race. Greene’s highlight result of the 1961 season came at Brands Hatch where he qualified the Gilby on the front row and finished 4th.
For 1962, the Gilby-Climax was revised with the fitment of a Colotti T34 six speed gearbox in place of the similar five speed model which had been used to date. The season got off to a fine start with Greene taking 4th in the Grand Prix de Bruxelles. This was followed by two more 4ths at Snetterton and Goodwood, and a 3rd place in the Gran Premio di Napoli.
This car, the Type B/1
The Gilby Engineering company had been sold in early 1962, and having been able to negotiate the purchase of a BRM P56 V8 engine, Greene personally instructed Len Terry to set about working on a revised version of the Gilby chassis to accept the new, wider engine. The BRM P56 V8 had arrived on the 16th July and by the German Grand Prix on the first weekend of August, the Gilby revision was completed.
In accommodating the BRM V8 engine, Terry also adapted the rear of the bodywork to allow the exit of the eight stack pipe exhausts. The new engine was also lower, so the top line of the bodywork was dropped to bring it closer to the cam covers and make it flatter. A white stripe was added to the complete the work and ready for testing at the Nurburgring.
Greene ran at a similar pace to what he had before with the Coventry Climax FPF four cylinder, starting 19th on the grid. Away from the start, a position was gained but on the 7th lap a wishbone failed and forced the Gilby to retire. The next race for the Gilby was the Oulton Park Gold Cup on the 1st September. Greene didn’t set a qualifying time and started from the rear of the grid, only to retire on the 26th lap after suffering a fuel leak and gearbox troubles.
Gilby Engineering travelled out to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix two weeks after Oulton Park, one of the most exciting World Championship events of the year. With 30 cars entered and only 21 starting places, timed practice bore great significance to many including Greene. At the conclusion of the sessions, Greene was classified 23rd and just missed out on qualifying for the race.
The second half of 1962 saw the Gilby Engineering company taken over, drawing a close on the Formula 1 activities. The Gilby in BRM form was sold to Ian Raby, a British privateer racer who had previously won the first Formula Junior race held in Britain along with subsequent races in Europe.
Raby kept the Gilby in the same format as Greene had last campaigned it, making his race debut with the car at Goodwood in April 1963. Racing in the Glover Trophy, Raby finished 7th. The second race for Raby with the Gilby was the BARC 200 at Aintree at the end of April where he retired from the race with engine issues. On the 11th May, Raby raced in the International Trophy at Silverstone, finishing 8th.
The first European adventure for the pair came a week later when Raby travelled out to Vallelunga in Italy for the Gran Premio di Roma. Raby ran very well during the Vallelunga weekend, setting 5th fastest time in qualifying before going on to take 3rd place in each of the two heats. The double 3rds ensured 3rd place in the final aggregate results for Raby.
Raby entered the Gilby in the British Grand Prix on the 20th July, this time held at Silverstone, and it would be the first World Championship Grand Prix with which Raby would compete. Having qualified on the 6th row, Raby climbed to 15th place in the race until gearbox failure ended his challenge on the 59th lap.
A week later, Raby and the Gilby travelled to Germany for the Grosser Preis der Solitude. While it was a non-championship race, it attracted a strong entry of works teams, with many developments undergoing testing. Raby qualified on the 7th row, next to Phil Hill’s Lotus 24, and during the race was held up but continued to run by the finish, albeit five laps down and not officially classified.
From Stuttgart, Raby travelled to the Nurburgring for the German Grand Prix the weekend after. On the full Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit, Raby wasn’t able to match the pace of the works teams and failed to qualify for the German GP.
The Formula 1 circus travelled north to Sweden the next week, with Raby and the Gilby also making the trip. As an event with strong starting money on offer, it was one which justified the journey. Held at Karlskoga, the Kanonloppet was run as two heats, and Raby qualified 9th for the first.
He maintained this position to the finish of the first heat, resulting in starting 9th for the second of the races. In this, Raby finished 8th, beating Bob Anderson’s Lola Mk4, and on the overall aggregate result he was 9th.
The next race for Raby and the Gilby was the Italian Grand Prix held at Monza on the 8th September. Historically a tough Grand Prix to make the qualifying cut for, Raby found himself on the line of making the race, however the organisers encouraged him and a few others to withdraw in order for the native Baghetti to get onto the grid in his ATS.
Back on home soil, Raby travelled to Cheshire for the Oulton Park International Gold Cup on the 21st September. A non-championship race of great prestige, it attracted all of the British based manufacturers to make a strong entry. Raby qualified the Gilby on the 4th row, climbing to 10th place in the two hour race before a drop in oil pressure halted his challenge on the 36th lap.
With the BRM V8 presumably requiring attention and the absence of further national races in which to compete during 1963, the Gold Cup was Raby’s last competitive outing with the Gilby. As 1964 drew closer, the Brabham team had its original Formula 1 design, the BT3, surplus to requirements and Raby agreed to buy it. Having run with a Coventry Climax V8 for Brabham and coming without engine, Raby fitted the BRM V8 which he had used in the Gilby.
The now engine-less Gilby was then sold by Raby to Alan Rollinson who had thought of fitting a larger capacity American V8 engine. Rollinson however is not known to have done anything with the Gilby but instead sold it to Barry Winyard in 1964. Primarily a hill climber, Winyard fitted a 1,500cc Coventry Climax engine and used the Gilby on the hills as well as the occasional circuit race such as at Castle Combe on the 20th August 1966.
Winyard had also come to own the Gilby sports car and eventually sold the Gilby Formula 1 to Dick Chandey in Jersey who fitted a 4.2-litre Ford V8 engine and ran it in hillclimbs. From Chandey, the Gilby went to Jean Pirout and then Bob Delahaye, both also of Jersey.
In 1984, the Gilby was bought in Jersey by Ian Bax. Bax, a key member of the BARC who suggested the concept of a hillclimb at Goodwood which led to the birth of the Festival of Speed, had often attended the various race meetings with the Greenes and the Gilby Engineering team when the Gilby F1 was first built and as such remembered the car fondly.
Having returned the Gilby to England, Bax enlisted the help of Peter Denty to restore the Gilby to its former glory. The Buick V8 engine was removed and the installation of a Coventry Climax FPF was planned. Instead, a Lotus Twincam engine was fitted along with a Hewland gearbox, allowing Bax to have the Gilby back in running order.
In 2004, Bax sold the Gilby through Coys auction house to the current owner. A collector of interesting racing and sports cars, the current owner instructed Sean Danaher Restorations to prepare the Gilby to be suitable for racing with the HGPCA series at the end of 2004. This began with a couple of tests as-was at Aintree and Snetterton to ascertain the current status of the car.
A correct, original 1.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF engine and six speed Colotti T34 gearbox were sourced and rebuilt in 2006 ready to be fitted. The work was completed in 2009 and the was Gilby largely unused except for limited testing through to 2013.
The Gilby then went to Brazell Engineering Limited for further tasks to be completed which included crack testing of major components and preparing for use. In the latter part of 2013, John Sabourin also completed a number of tasks on the Gilby, finishing with a GSD Racedyn suspension set up.
Following the finalised restoration work, new FIA HTPs were granted for the Gilby in May 2014. In the same year, the Gilby returned to the track with the current owner. Racing with the popular HGPCA series, the Gilby competed at several events including the Silverstone Classic and at Dijon. In 2019, the Coventry Climax FPF engine and Colotti gearbox were rebuilt. Most recently, the Gilby returned to Dijon to race with the HGPCA in 2021, and also at the Grand Prix de France Historique at Paul Ricard in the same month, resulting in just two races worth of use on the engine and gearbox.
When observing the Gilby as it sits today compared to period photos, it’s possible to identify specific unique details which are present in componentry on the car, suggesting that the car has remained very complete throughout its life. In immaculate condition, the Gilby is accompanied by a full file which includes copies of Len Terry’s chassis plans for the car.
Today, the Gilby is available for the first time since its 2004 acquisition by the current owner and is an interesting part of British Formula 1 history. As one of the last independent marques to run in a World Championship Grand Prix, and with period Goodwood Glover Trophy pedigree, the Gilby is a shoe-in for the finest Pre-’66 Formula 1 events worldwide including the Monaco Historic Grand Prix and the Goodwood Revival.