Lightburn Zeta

Lightburn

Lightburn is the name of an Australian manufacturer (generally, cement mixers, although they also made washing machines) who briefly entered the passenger car market in the mid-1960s with the oddly shaped Lightburn Zeta sedan. The cars were built in a washing machine factory at Camden Park in Adelaide by the company which was owned by Harold Lightburn. The cars were launched to the market in 1963 at a starting price of £595. Production ceased in 1965 with the last vehicles sold in 1966 and total sales of less than 400 vehicles.

Models

  • Sedan 2dr Man 4sp 325 (1964/1965)
  • Sedan Deluxe 2dr Man 4sp 325 (1964)
  • Roadster Sports 2dr Man 4sp 500 (1964)
  • Utility version, featured in a contemporary sales brochure of which a number were produced for Sydney City Council's Hyde Park fleet.

Features

The vehicle was powered by the Villiers Ltd 324 cc two-stroke motor with drive to the front wheels. The motor's stated output was 12 kW, giving a performance reported as almost nil and drive was via a motorcycle gearbox and chain drive. The Viliers Sibastart engine was designed for an 'Invalid Carriage' (a motor-tricycle) and so had a 4 speed multiple wet-clutch sequential gearbox in unit with the engine. Reversing the car required stopping the engine, then restarting using the electramatic system which spun the engine in reverse.

The standard Zeta did not come with a rear hatch so access to the cargo area required removal of the front seats, the ease of which was advertised as a positive feature. The chassis was steel, with a fibreglass body enclosing a large but sparse interior. Car tyres were not available at that time of such a small size ; hence wheelbarrow tyres were used.

The dimunitive Sports model, which was similar to the Australian developed Goggomobil Dart, used a West German Sachs two cylinder 500cc engine with integral four-speed gearbox, producing a modest . Its body styling originated with Michelotti of Italy and was based on the Henry Meadows Sprint version of the Frisky microcar. The fibreglass bodied car weighed and ran on wheels with all-round drum brakes. Like the Dart it lacked doors and bumper bars.

Sales History

With the Zeta, however, failure was engineered into the product from day one.
As well as the oddness of the design, the vehicle's commercial success was also stymied by unfortunate timing as it was released onto the market at the same time as the Morris Mini, which was only £60 more expensive. As a result only 363 vehicles were sold from 1963 to 1966, including 28 of the sports model.

References

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