Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Universal Power Drives

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April 1951. Unipower tractors.
Im090530SM-Unipower.jpg
Im0909CSF-Uni.jpg
1956. Reg No: GAR 130K.
1956. Reg No: GAR 130K.
1959. Unipower Hanibal. Timber Tractor. Reg No: LNH 225.
Reg No: JAE 412.
JAE 412.
JAE 412.
JAE 412.
JAE 412.
Reg No: JHK 57H.

of London

Universal Power Drives was a British truck manufacturer which branded its trucks with the Unipower marque.

1934 Universal Power Drives was founded in 1934 with a factory in Perivale and its head office in Aldwych, London. During the 1930s, 40s and 50s it specialised in producing 4x4 forrestry logging trucks.

1951 Making Unipower Tractors (see advert)


1966 Exhibited a sports car, the Unipower GT at the Racing Car Show. Another car they produced was the Quasar-Unipower which was built in 1967 and 1968.

1972 it launched the 4x4 Unipower Invader suited to fire-fighting and construction use.

1977 the company was acquired by AC Cars and production was moved to Thames Ditton, Surrey.

1988 the company started a new enterprise in Watford to provide continuity of support for Scammell trucks following the closure of the Rover Group's Scammell plant that year.

1980s launched the C-series heavy-haulage tractor and a range of military trucks.

1994 Alvis plc acquired the company and named their new subsidiary Alvis Unipower Limited; the trucks began to be branded as Alvis-Unipower.

Following their elimination from the bidding process for the UK Ministry of Defence's Heavy Equipment Transporter (HET) project, Alvis announced their intention to seek a new owner for Alvis Unipower.


The Unipower GT was a British specialist sports car first shown at the January 1966 Racing Car Show, and produced by truck maker Universal Power Drives in Perivale, Middlesex and later by U.W.F. Automotive in London until production ceased in early 1970, by which time around 75 are believed to have been made, including about 15 built by U.W.F..

  • The car was based on BMC Mini mechanical components with the transverse engine and gearbox unit mounted in a mid-engine configuration. A strong space frame chassis with integral roll-over protection was bonded to a fibreglass body to produce a light yet rigid structure, with all-round independent coil spring and wishbone suspension. Combining light weight, a low centre of gravity and low aerodynamic drag from a body that measured just 40.5 inches high, the Unipower offered very good performance and excellent road holding and handling characteristics. Available with the 998cc Mini-Cooper or more potent 1275cc Cooper "S" engine, this latter version was reported to be capable of 0-60 mph in around 8 seconds and to have a maximum speed of almost 120 mph.
  • A design was produced for a larger Unipower but this did not go into production with the original makers instead eventually evolving into the AC ME3000.
  • Unipower also made a limited number of the "glass box" Quasar-Unipower cars.
  • GT 1966-70.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Wikipedia
  • A-Z British Cars 1945-1980 by Graham Robson. Published by Herridge and Sons. ISBN 0-9541063-9-3
  • [2] Wikipedia