History of the Bradley GT
(along with literature and ads of its day)

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In the 1970's, the leading producer of kit cars in the United States was Bradley Automotive. Located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the company's success was primarily due to an aggressive advertising campaign. Full-page Bradley Automotive ads could be found in just about every automotive and do-it-yourself magazine in the country.

Bradley's main claims were the high quality of their components and the completeness of their kits. Throughout the 1970's, they produced and sold more than 6,000 of their GT kits, a very impressive number by specialty car standards.

The Bradley Automotive Company was started by two people, Gary Cornyea and engineer David Bradley Fuller (the Bradley in Bradley GT). They merged their names to form the name of the company's (fictitious) chief executive officer, "Gary Bradley." It is unknown what prompted them to take this action, but the name was even included in their legal documents.

Bradley Automotive had a very personal sales method and a staff that grew to over 30. Office sales and staff telephoned respondents to company ads. They answered any questions that potential customers had, as their technical staff answered questions that customers had while building the kits.

Write-up courtesy of Dave Parillo (roaring-20s.org/bradley)

The engine cover, hood and hatchback used remote releases that were operated from controls in the cockpit, a novel feature for a kit car. The GT II had a steel reinforced roof and 5-mph bumpers front and rear.

It's probably one of the few kit cars that was able to meet most states' DOT (Department of Transportation) safety standards at the time, a true testament to the quality of the its engineering.

In addition to the economical and reliable Volkswagen engine, the Bradley GT and GT II could also accommodate Porsche 914 or911, and even Mazda rotary motors. In addition to GT and GT II kits, both cars were also available as factory-assembled "turnkey" versions.

In the mid to late 80's, Bradley Automotive and all of its (then) current inventory was sold to a larger unknown company. Rumor has it that Bradley's new owners locked the doors after purchasing the company, disconnected the phones and let the business die. They were then able to use their "loss" as a tax writeoff, which some say was their plan right from the start. This was the demise of Bradley Automotive, and along with it, their innovative GT and GT II kits.

And so the Bradley GT lives on today. Its design and simplicity have attracted many who have set out to restore this classic kit car. Go to the links page to find owners, clubs and other ways to get more information on this one of a kind.

It worked, and the company was very successful until the early 1980's. The rapid growth of the company and their large number of loyal purchasers prompted designers to develop and produce a completely new kit, the GT II. Unfortunately, only 500 of these newly designed kits were produced before the company ceased production.

Today, the Bradley GT and GT II remain among the most visible kit cars on the road. They are still seen at swap meets and custom car shows all over the country, due in part to the sheer volume of cars that were produced. It is largely because of the two body styles produced by Bradley, and the Sebring produced by Sterling, that kit cars were put on the automotive map.

The GT was designed to fit on a standard Volkswagen "Bug" chassis. The car was available in a variety of Gelcoat colors. The body was a one-piece, reinforced unit with a targa-style roof that bolted to the main unit. It featured removable, frameless, gullwing doors thatwere made of Plexiglass.

The GT II was also based on the standard Beetle pan, although this new car was a highly refined version of the GT. It had a much more of a production car-like quality. Attention to detail and trim had been improved dramatically over the early GT. The GT II featured gas strut-actuated, fully framed, gullwing doors that featured lowering side glass and removable, clear Plexiglas moon roof panels on the top.

This is the image that made me want to get the car.

This site maintained by Bob Thagard