The ingenuity of Ndi Igbo and their contributions to the advancement of humanity has remained one of our major focuses here at ‘Voice Of The Sun’. We take great pride in researching and teaching our family here of the great and noble achievements of their ancestors.The story of David Gittens, a Brooklyn-born Igbo man, is one that speaks volumes of the contributions of Ndi Igbo in the automobile industry.
David Gittens was an artist and designer, and was an employee of Car and Driver magazine, as a staff photographer, from 1958 to 1964. After he got married in 1964, he and his wife moved to London. There he continued his career in photography and focused mainly on weddings and advertising. He would later advance his career and started to do transportation designing.
When he started, he ventured into some of the most complex designs at the time.
He had a number of proposed projects, of which were a ‘gas-powered single-seat city car, an electric city car, a Reliant-Based three-wheeled car, a small car based on Mini Moke Chassis, an expandable six-wheeled vehicle, and finally his high-performance mid-engined grand touring car which he later named the “Ikenga GT”.To achieve his goals, he bought a used chassis of the McLaren car model from Ken Sheppard. The limited production of his Ikenga GT was also to be run by Dheppard. When he got into the development phase, he contracted it to Charles Williams of the William & Pritchard, which was a coachbuilding company.
To finance the project, he got money through Copley’s merchant Bank.
The name, Ikenga, which he chose for the car model is of Igbo origin. The Ikenga, to Ndi Igbo, represents accomplishment, success, achievement, strength, power, and justice. It is an embodiment of noble spirits, represented by a horned statue.David Gittens completed the first version of the Ikebga GT in 1967, which he modeled MK1. He restyled the MK1 into the MKII the following year, with a classic leather interior, together with a complementary set of Gucci luggage.
He also added some advanced lightning features to the new model.
Gettins’s Ikenga GT started to draw the attention of the larger American community, and also the international community. It was first put on display at the Banking Hall at Harrods, during the Earls Court Motor Show, in 1968. The car was seen by 30,000 people at the Banking Hall. One of the spectators offered $53,000 for Gittens to sell the prototype. Also, a Saudi Prince commissioned a unique version of the Ikenga GT – it was to be called “Bird of Peace”, at the cost of $35,000.
Gittens did not have the intention of producing his cars forever. He planned for the Ikenga GT to be a limited model, with a maximum of 100 to 150 cars, which were to be priced at £9000 or US$16,800 each.