60 years later, the Berkeley Bandit returns as an EV

Six decades after it came and went without much fuss, the Berkeley Bandit is ready to make its triumphant return. And in order to actually stick around this time, the sporty speedster will come with two very modern features: an electric powertrain and sustainable parts.

Late last week, the recently resurrected British automaker, best known for its compact sports cars, announced that it would relaunch with a new and improved Bandit. And a zero-emission powertrain isn’t the only way the new car with differ from its predecessor; it will also be available as a roadster or a coupe.

The original Bandit was supposed to be the car that would push Berkeley into the mainstream, but before that got a chance to happen, the automaker declared bankruptcy in 1960, pulling the plug on operations before the car could make it to production. Despite this, the roadster is still looked upon fondly by British sports car lovers, some of whom view the two-seater as having been “ahead of its time.”

As did the original prototypes, 60 years ago, Berkeley designers proved that simple, smooth, ain’t a bad way to design an automobile. I liked their work back then. Like it even more, now.

Jimmy Page’s Dragon Guitar Reborn

Here’s what Page’s axe looked and sounded like in 1968

❝ Fender instruments on Wednesday gave the public its first look at its recreation of a Telecaster guitar that Page once painted with a dragon, a long-lost piece of six-string history that marked the guitar hero’s last days in the Yardbirds and first days in Led Zeppelin.

❝ The instrument with the psychedelic green-and-red serpent on its body represents “a pivotal moment for the guitar and music,” said Paul Waller, the master builder who worked side-by-side with Page to make him a spot-on match of the guitar before making 50 more by hand to sell to the public.

❝ The reboot was hatched when Page was looking through photographs for a book celebrating last year’s 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin. The dragon guitar, which he says was once his “Excalibur,” kept popping up in them, and he started to think it was time to get past his bitterness about its fate…

❝ The 1959 Telecaster, pre-paint, had been a cherished gift from his fellow former Yardbird bandmate Jeff Beck…

Page first decorated it with mirrors, then pulled out poster paints and used his art-school skills to summon the dragon.

He would use the guitar to write and record songs like “Dazed and Confused” for the first Led Zeppelin album, work as significant as any in the history of the electric guitar.

But a clueless house-sitter, not thinking much of Page’s painting, put his own mosaic artwork over the dragon and presented it to Page as a gift. Page said it was all he could do not to hit the guy over the head with it. Instead, he stripped it bare and angrily threw it into storage, where it sat for 50 years.

RTFA for the tale of rebirth courtesy of the guitar builders at Fender.