The British Motor Heritage dealer network is an all-important interface with enthusiasts. Over the years we have profiled several businesses in the magazine.
British Motor Heritage’s Motoring Classics magazine produced a series of ‘dealer spotlight’ features between Summer 2012 and Autumn 2018.
Anglo Parts is the latest classic car enterprise to join the ranks of British Motor Heritage ‘Approved Specialists’. As its managing director Marc van de Vijver remarked: “It was pointed out to us that we were the only large quality supplier of classic British car parts not on the list, so are happy to have put that matter right.”
Accents can deceive and Brooklands’ proprietor Lyn Holmes was born not in Ireland but Bishop Auckland, County Durham. The daughter of a sports car-loving RAF officer, she got used to moving every 18 months but, irrespective of where they lived, motorsport remained part of the diet and she readily recalls visits to Snetterton, Croft, Brands Hatch and Silverstone.
Brown & Gammons’ name has been synonymous with MG for as long as most enthusiasts can remember; in fact since 1977 when T-Type racing friends Ron Gammons and Gerry Brown first pooled their expertise for the benefit of the make’s budding community. The company continues to operate from Baldock, Herts where it was founded; nowadays with Ron as Chairman and his son Malcolm as Managing Director.
The origins of this interesting multifaceted company date back to the early 1980s, when Pat and Deanne Fitton formed Bull Motif Restorations to specialise in the renovation of Morris’ ubiquitous Minor. However, a growing market for related parts sparked a change of focus and the company’s description was accordingly updated from Restorations to Spares.
It was almost inevitable that, sooner or later, David Pearson would build an industry career around the Triumph marque. He was born in Nuneaton, a short drive from the Coventry factory where his father and other family members were employed. David was about to join the fray himself when rumours of Triumph’s impending demise began to circulate and led to him joining the RAF instead.
Datch.fr is based in the suburbs of North-West Paris and draws its name from the partner who decided to found it back in 2006, Nicolas Datchary. The son of an English petrolhead mother (she once owned the only XK140 in Mexico), he grew up in the culture of ‘60s British cars and recalls being captivated by the sight of a Mini Countryman while on a trip to England, aged four.
People enter the automotive world from many directions and David Manners was once a Daimler Dart-owning dry cleaner in need of a new exhaust system. Fellow club members required them too, so he invested in a batch from Bernard L Haywood, made a lot of people happy and turned a profit.
Unlike many members of the booming classic car trade, ESM’s Managing Director Graham Clayton is not a trained mechanical engineer, but a rock/pop musician who has always been into old cars.
If SME’s have been endangered by BREXIT, then nobody’s told Leacy Classics, as it’s expanded from 11 staff in 2011 to 35 today and has no intention of looking back, with eyes on a turnover of £10 million by 2018.
Visiting MG Motorsport for the first time, one can’t help wondering how such a renowned multi-faceted business can operate in so relatively small an area. It doesn’t. That first bespoke wooden workshop leads to another and another in true Tardis-like fashion, slowly revealing the secrets of 24 years of organic growth.
Back in 1973 Martin Bentley was involved in the foundation of the MG Owners’ Club, which his brother Roche then ran for many years and is still associated with to this day. Martin’s career took a linked but separate path. A car mad youngster, he purchased his first MGB aged 17 and soon discovered that, aside of the vehicles themselves, MG dealers only dealt in hard parts – offering little or nothing in the way of accessories to improve the basic models.
Mad about motorbikes since the age of 16, Andreas Hohls – the founder and proprietor of Mini Mania Germany – had not considered buying a car until faced with a regular 115 mile commute to university in 1975. He then sought one that could be driven like a bike, and decided only a Mini fitted the bill.
Nearly 5.5million classic Minis were built between 1959 and 2000, with examples of Issigonis’s masterpiece making their way to all corners of the world. Many of these still exist courtesy of specialist suppliers, of which BMH dealer Mini Spares is by far the biggest.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Brian and Heather Harper created a master plan back in 1959 that’s since been instigated to the letter. The foundation was the immortal Issigonis Mini that not only took their fancy but provided them with success in motorsport. This caused their involvement in spares for the model and led to the founding of Mini Sport in 1967.
Over 0.5 million classic Triumph sports cars were manufactured, spares for which were soon hard to come by. Had the likes of Moss Europe (née Cox & Buckles) not had the foresight to produce replacements, most such cars would have long since disappeared.
Unless they reside on Mars, few enthusiasts of the most popular classic British sports cars will be unaware of Moss Motors, by far the world’s largest supplier of spares for these increasingly sought-after vehicles – it stocks c.30,000 different components, has outlets in the US, UK and France, and employs 250 staff.
The proverb ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ could have been coined for Newton Commercial, for it was when working for a radiator manufacturer that Richard Newton was told if he couldn’t find someone to refurbish a client’s lorry seats, he would lose that particular account. Unable to source a local trimmer, he purchased suitable material and his wife Vera fashioned a new cover on her mother’s Singer sewing machine.
The Japanese love traditional British products and the classic Mini comes high up their wish list, as Nick Paddy established to his advantage back in the early ‘90s.
From little acorns… 31 years old in March, Rimmer Bros. is still being run by its founders and nowadays supplies literally millions of parts for classic British cars, shipping them to every corner of the globe as required.
Charles Runyan’s passion for TRs was sparked at the age of 10 by the pages of Road & Track and Sports Car Graphic. However, it was only fully-ignited 11 years later, when he was finally allowed his first sports car, a TR3. A second, better one soon followed and it was seeking parts to restore it that prompted him to found The Roadster Factory (TRF) from his Pennsylvania apartment back in 1978.
Pete Hines began his working life as a cabinet maker, but became disillusioned when his employer moved from the production of conventional wooden furniture to the chipboard and MDF of kitchen and bathroom units. His solution was to transform his hobby into abusiness and create a company specialising in the servicing, repair and restoration of classic Minis.
An East Coast lad, Steve McKie was brought up in Bridlington but moved to Sheffield to study engineering, and it was while teaching the subject that he founded his eponymous company in 1977.
The Tim Kelly MG Centre has been a BMH dealer since 1998 and is renowned throughout the UK for the quality of its workmanship.
Nearly 40 years of buying, selling, servicing, restoring andbreaking Triumph TRs (models 2 to 6 inclusive) entitles John Sykes to make some mighty impressive claims for his internationally-renowned company.
The name cleverly stands for TR Great Britain and/or TR Gary Bates, the man who founded this specialist company in 1986 and runs it with a passion to this day.