Goodwood was the place where, sometime in the 1960’s, the first meeting took place between two men who were passionate about racing cars: Ernie Unger, an admirer of the cars built by Carlo Abarth, and who some years earlier had raced with a Lotus, and Val Dare-Bryan, connected with the development and production of racing cars in the workshop of the racing driver Roy Pierpoint. Sharing the same enthusiasm, the two men decided to build a small GT car which would bring together British effectiveness and Italian beauty. Another motor sport enthusiast joined the project, Tim Powell, as did his great friend Andrew Hedges, the BMC factory racing driver.
In 1966, the UNIPOWER GT was presented at the London Racing Car Show where it was received with great enthusiasm by both the public and the motor sport press. Universal Power Drives Ltd, the company run by Tim Powell, started at last to produce the beautiful and fast Unipower GT. At the end of 1968, after 60 cars had been built, Powell lost interest in the project which he always regarded as an adventure, and sold UNIPOWER to Piers Weld-Forrester. Piers Weld-Forrester, a racing driver as well as also being an adventurer, transferred UNIPOWER GT production to the new company Unger, Weld-Forrester (U.W.F.). U.W.F. was responsible for building just the last 15 UNIPOWER cars built. In spite of having a full order book, production stopped in 1970!
In the space of 3 years a total of 75 cars were built. These had a tubular chassis, glass fibre reinforced plastic (GRP) bodywork, independent suspension, based on Formula 3 cars, and some innovative solutions for its time.
The Unipower GT power unit was made by the BMC group. Most of the cars were fitted with the 998cc Cooper engine, installed in the “wrong” place, that is, at the rear and in a central / transverse position. Some of the cars were, however, fitted with the 1275cc Cooper S engine.
Thanks to its daring design and the quality of its construction, unusual for its time, the UNIPOWER GT became the most beautiful and sophisticated car based on Mini mechanics ever built.
The UNIPOWER, 95 cm high, weighing 500 kg and designed by a car racing enthusiast, was planned right from the start as a racing car. In their catalogues, UNIPOWER advertised sale by order of competition cars, the Special light-weight competition series. This group comprised 20 cars out of a total of only 75 cars ever built.
The 20 rare Special light-weight competition cars were prepared in a different way by the UNIPOWER GT people responsible for planning and building them and by the racing driver “adventurers” in several parts of the world who ordered the UNIPOWER competition prototypes.
UNIPOWER competition cars were used in speed races, mountain and slalom events, rallies and even in the World Manufacturers’ Championship.