The People on the Project
The Founder and driving force behind the Unipower GT came from Ernie Unger who as Director, steered the design & development of the Unipower GT between 1965 - 70. From his early days as a mechanic for Lotus in 1954, he went on to work with Ian Walker Racing and as Team manager for Equipe Elva before joining Gordon Spice Racing in 1977 as Director, running their team in the British Touring Car Championship before developing the Spice/Lamborghini prototype. Ernie is still very active with this Club and Club Lotus in his retirement.
Tim went into partnership with Ernie Unger in 1965, providing backing through his manufacturing business, Universal Power Drives, to produce the first Unipower GT cars. After Tim sold his interests in the Unipower GT, he continued to pursue his love of Offshore Powerboats and became Commodore and President of United Kingdom Offshore Boating Association, revered on the international offshore scene throughout the World, sadly passing away peacefully in 2017.
Piers Weld-Forester bought Tim Powell's interests in the Unipower GT in 1968 and became Ernie Unger's new partner in U.W.F. Automative Engineering (Unger Weld Forester) trading as Unipower Cars. Piers the grandson of the 5th Marquess of Ormande and a Royal Courtier, had a white GT40 as his road-car, which he raced occasionally. He was sadly killed in 1977 while racing at Brands Hatch in the 750cc class of the World Motorcycle Championship.
Val Dare - Bryan
Val joined Unipower very early on in the UPD period as an engineering designer of the Attila race cars and was responsible for engineering its tubular space-frame mid - engine'd layout and its ongoing development. Val left Unipower Cars early in 1969 and went on to do development work on the Porsche 956. As a consultant engineer, his subsequent work involved much aerodynamic work and he currently continues to consult for the MOD in the UK.
Nick joined Universal Power Drives as Engineering Manager with responsibility for putting the design of the various car components into production including upgrading components during development, so that they were fit for purpose. He was also heavily involved in the build, development and production of the Quasar Unipower. Nick eventually left U.W.F. mid-way through 1969, shortly after the Le Mans participation. Later Nick would start a successful engineering consultancy and sadly passed away in May 2020.
Andrew was the first Sales executive for UPD from its launch in 1966 and would play an important role in the company for the next couple of years. Andrew was well qualified to sell the attributes of the Unipower GT as he was a successful racing driver at the time, being the highest placed British car at 24hrs of Le Mans in 1964 and taking a 10th place overall in the Sebring 24 hrs in 1968. He also represented Britain in the 1964 Olympic Bobsleigh team and enjoyed Power-boat racing along with the company director Tim Powell.
Simon was an employee of Universal Power Drives and when Tim Powell committed UPD to the early production of the Unipower GT based out of his Perivale factory, became the Production Manager faced with the challenges of producing those early cars, using an outsourced supply of components. When UPD ceased its involvement, Simon went on to assist Tim Powell with his off-shore power boating exploits, only to be later re-engaged by U.W.F. to manage their new production facility at Park Royal, London until its closure in early 1970. Simon played a pivotal part in maximising productivity, by in-sourcing production in a very challenging environment at Unipower Cars.
Stephen was the Stores Manager being responsible for the ensuring a ready stock of parts for the car production. His role was also to ensure that certain components, such as the pedal-box's were pre-assembled prior to fitting. As described in 'Unipower GT - Component Car ?', Stephen ensured that the production process of 'a trolley of parts' was prepared for each car build. Stephen left U.W.F. when the factory closed and owned the famous chassis #1266.7, the 998cc factory demonstrator Reg: NGH 8D
Malcolm was a slightly eccentric friend of Piers Weld-Forester, who was in the London motor trade selling a wide variety of 'interesting' cars including Porsche Speedsters with a some-time role of selling Unipower GT's for the the charismatic Piers. Malcolm was an early member of the famous Dangerous Sports Club in the UK and raced a McLaren M1C to great effect, as well as being well known for his love of wearing brightly coloured odd socks and towing his race cars with a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud !. He still lives in Kensington, London and is a regular at London car gatherings.
Geoff was an English professional motorcycle racer, constructor, rider-sponsor and retail dealer, who had in 1968 moved to Edenbridge in Kent. It was from these premises, just up the road from the Surtees F1 Team, that as Monty & Ward Motors, Geoff became a local dealer for the Unipower GT early in 1969. Many cars passed through Geoff's hands and indeed had established a significant Order Book for cars when the factory closed. Geoff retired to Wadebridge, Cornwall, where sadly he died in 2009, aged 92.
Gez (Gerry) Wheeler
After leaving school at 15, Gez became an apprentice with Thrupp & Maberly coach-builder to Queen Victoria, where he began his highly skilled coach-working craft, before joining Rootes Group from 1952 until 1967 with a brief break in the Army for his National Service. In mid-1967 he joined UPD as a coach-finisher/trimmer, eventually becoming skilled in all aspects of the fabrication of suspension and other general component parts. Working at both Perivale and Park Royal factories, he notably produced the five cars exported in 1969 as consecutive chassis for the agent in Hong Kong. Gez is now retired and is highly knowledgeable about WW2 battlefields and campaigns in Northern Europe.
Peter Downie joined UPD in 1965 and worked on engineering the cars, leaving in 1967 to go on to work initially for John Cooper’s F1 Team. In 1969 Peter was asked to look after Tim Powell’s power boats and to engineer the engines and transmissions. Sometime afterwards he became involved, again as a well-respected engineer, on the build of the first Virgin Atlantic Challenger catamaran, built to contest the famous Blue-Ribbon prize for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic. Over some 30-years, Peter engineered around 40 Offshore and Inshore power boats, most notably many ‘Limit Up’ and ‘Martini’ boats, as well as the famous ‘Victory’ and ‘Spirit of Norway’ craft. Peter sadly passed away in early April 2021
Note: Some individual photographs are from the Club's archives