In the long history of cars with bird names—proud monikers like Firebird, Black Hawk, Roadrunner, Falcon, and Eagle—one 1960s South African car manufacturer may have laid an egg. With the name, not the car.
Glass Sports Motors, based in Cape Town, rolled out a pair of fiberglass-bodied sports cars during its six-year run from 1958–1964: the Dart, a small roadster offered with a variety of equally small engines, and the Flamingo, which has nothing in common with the gangly pink bird that shares its name.
Founded by Bob van Niekerk and Willie Meissner, GSM was inspired by the new design flexibility that lightweight fiberglass offered to automakers. Americans had already begun to embrace the cutting-edge material in the 1950s, the most notable examples being the Chevrolet Corvette, the Kaiser Darrin, and the Glasspar G2.
Following GSM’s first car, the company unveiled the right-hand-drive Flamingo coupe in 1962. Not only was the new two-seater more attractive than its predecessor—it sported a cool, split-rear window design a year before the controversial ’63 Corvette—the 1600-pound Flamingo featured an upgraded front suspension, a limited-slip differential, and a 1.7-liter German Ford Taunus engine that provided for a top speed in excess of 120 mph. (Later models came with a 1.5-liter Ford Cortina engine.)
The pride of South African automotive history, only 128 Flamingos were produced, which makes this 1964 model offered by Legends Automotive a rare find.
According to Legends, which is a part of the U.K.’s Bicester Heritage complex, 68 miles northwest of London, the yellow Flamingo was owned by GSM Club member Bill Trotter from 1988 to 1998. Subsequently purchased by Andrew Nash, the car received a complete restoration that included swapping its 1.5-liter engine for a 115-hp, 1.7-liter Escort Sport mill “with a Stage 2 camshaft for more fun.”
In 2002, ownership moved to fellow-GSM Club member Andre Loubser, who quickly sold it to his friend Gordon Murray, the legendary South African Formula 1 race-car designer. Patrick Morton bought the Flamingo from Murray five years later. Morton died a year ago, and his family is now selling the sports car for £25,000 (about $33,000 at press time).
The Flamingo may not look anything like its feathered namesake, but it is one rare bird, and it can still fly. Perhaps there’s room for it in your nest?