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The History of the Hawke
The Hawke was developed in the early 1990’s, by Gary Hutton and Colin Puttock, the founding partners of GCS Cars. GCS traded initially from Orpington in Ken and, as part of a range of activities, they offered a ‘build service’ for customers of a variety of kit car manufacturers. At that time there were very few open top sports cars provided by the World’s manufacturers and using their experience and expertise, they spotted a market opportunity for an affordable classically styled sports car which could be based upon modern running gear and built relatively easily by those with a modicum of d-i-y auto-engineering expertise.
The Hawke is a 2 door open top sports kit-car which bears a striking resemblance to the Morgan plus 8 but, contrary to popular opinion, there are no common parts. Unlike the Morgan, which uses an aluminium body based upon an ash woodframe, The Hawke boasts a one-piece GRP bodytub with integral floor to which the front wings, nosecone, rear wheel arches, doors, bonnet and windscreen are added to provide the overall shape. It was designed to accept Ford Cortina / Sierra donor vehicle running parts and this led to the bodyshell and wings being considerably wider than the plus 4 Morgan.
Initially marketed as the GCS Hawke in both ‘Sports’ (2 seater) and ‘2+2’ variants. The kit comprised a substantial box frame chassis, a 2 door glass fibre reinforced plastic body tub, doors, wings and running boards, nosecone, 2 piece alloy bonnet and windscreen with ‘optional extras’ such as bumpers, brightwork and ‘wet weather’ gear including sidescreens and soft-top. Early models used the Ford Cortina as donor for engine, gearbox, electrics, front and rear axles and suspension components. Kits were adapted to meet customer requirements and to take a variety of Ford engines, plus the Rover V8 and others, such as the Nissan 2.8 litre straight 6 and Fiat 2000. Continuous improvement saw the introduction, in 1997, of the Sierra as the donor vehicle with kit specific suspension components, wider wings, the use of Gel Coat on some kits and the introduction of Roll Bars to help meet SVA requirements and improve safety. With the introduction of Sierra based models, the +2 variant was quietly dropped
The car was reviewed very favourably by the Kit Car Motoring Press and GCS supplied two kits to Peter Filby, the then Editor of ‘Which Kit’ Magazine. The first was a yellow V8. Peter was so impressed with this car he ordered a second. This was supplied in kit form and not built up by GCS and has possibly been revamped into something else.
During 1999, GCS also developed a 3 wheeler called the ‘Leighton. This was based upon Citroen 2CV parts and one demonstrator car was produced. The Demo car and all moulds were bought by BRA. BRA sold a few kits but did not actively market the kit. Ian Hyne of ‘Kit Car’ Magazine reported that he was impressed when he drove the car.
Arising from a health problem facing one of the partners, GCS Cars ceased trading with effect from November 1999 and the production rights, associated equipment and order book were sold to Jim Dudley of Tiger Racing in late 1999. In order to ensure a smooth transition, Colin Puttock helped Tiger with the production of a number of their early units but regrettably, the Hawke did not sit comfortably with Tiger Racing’s other activities and only a limited number of Tiger Hawke kits were produced.
In August 2003 Paul Chapman and Richard Laking of LCD purchased the Hawke project, but, after an enthusiastic start incorporating a number of improvements, notably the adaption of the kit to take the Ford Zetec range of engines, production stalled and no new kits have been produced since 2007.
GCS Cars produced 115 units comprising kits, demonstrators and a number of ‘turnkey’ cars manufactured to customer specifications. Most of the kits were produced for the UK market, but a number were produced as ‘Left hand drive’ units and exported all over the World to such Countries as Turkey, Norway, Sweden, France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa and even the USA.
The Club does not know how many Hawke kits were produced by either Tiger Racing or LCD, possibly 10-15 each, thus suggesting that the total number of Hawkes produced is 135-145 units.
As cars change hand an increasing number find themselves exported, particularly to Europe where historically legislation relating to the production of ‘one off’ cars has been more onerous and one member has taken his beloved Hawke to New Zealand!