CLASSIC

MOTOR CARS

One of the joys of engine restoration can be how occasionally it provides the opportunity to examine and even handle components from engines of vehicles that have in one way or another made motoring history. For some it seldom happens while for others – a fortunate few – historic engineering can be witnessed first hand.

One such Company is CMC Limited of Bridgnorth, Shropshire, who have over recent years restored some of the most iconic cars in Jaguar’s history. These include the first works D-type; the oldest surviving E-type in existence; the first E-type off the production line and the Lindner/Nocker works lightweight E-type with its special ‘low drag’ bodywork, for which the company won the Restoration of the Year Award. That was back in 2011, and in 2017 the Company achieved an industry first by winning that same award again, this time for its work on the unique Pininfarina-bodied 1954 Jaguar XK120 SE. 

Although over twenty-five years ago only Jaguar ran through the veins of the three enthusiasts who founded the company, today their work is by no means restricted to the ‘Big Cat’ marque alone.

MARCHES CENTRE OF MANUFACTURING & TECHNOLOGY

If there is one recurring worry that comes up in this business it is the one of finding the next generation of engineers and engine rebuilders In business for more than 30 years, Engine Parts (UK) Ltd has developed partnerships with many of the world’s leading component suppliers. One of the most recent is with the Italian gasket specialist Athena SpA

Unfortunately, many government-funded apprenticeship schemes have fallen by the wayside of late as finances have stopped and been relocated into health and safety. But one place where the future for those looking to become the next generation of engineers is bright is in Shropshire. To be precise it is the MCMT, or Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology, one section of which is on the Stanmore Trading Estate in Shropshire, opposite CMC.

IVOR SEARLE

When it comes to engine remanufacturing, Ivor Searle, of Soham Cambridgeshire, operates on an industrial scale

The company has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the immediate post-war period. Ivor Searle was an agricultural engineer in the village of Wicken – just a few miles from the organisation’s present location – and saw the potential of reconditioning engines which were plentiful after the war. From there the company grew and specialised in component refurbishment until 1977 when ‘The Wicken Crankshaft and Bearing Company’ was renamed Ivor Searle Ltd. It was when the operation moved to a purpose-built 10,000sq ft building in Soham that they started selling remanufactured engines to reconditioners and factors throughout the country. Business was good and the export market opened up for them in the following years, firstly to France and Germany before Holland and Belgium were added.  

After Ivor’s untimely demise at just 40 years of age, his son, Colin Searle, took over the business and expanded it to where it is now with 70,000sq ft of production area and selling remanufactured products throughout the UK and Western Europe.

Oxfordshire-based Fondera Limited is a mainstay supplier in our industry and has been since 1973.

FONDERA

When it comes to suppliers in the engine-rebuilding and associated industries, by far the most important quality they can have is knowledge of the business. Fondera Limited is a family-run organisation now in the stewardship of the 2nd generation of the Devall family, with Clive now at the helm. 

The business was started by Clive’s father David who spent 15 years with the RAF after World War II where he learned his trade, working on a variety of engines including such esoterica as the radial Alvis Leonides unit that powered the piston-engined version of the Provost trainer. In 1963, after his time in the forces, David took up a position as Sales Director for an engine reconditioning supply business and after a successful 10-year period in sales, he realised there was an opportunity to branch out and set up business on his own.

So it was in the 1973 that David formed Fondera Limited. One of the first agencies Fondera took on was for Kwik-Way International in Iowa, USA, and in 1974 it was their machines that they began importing into the UK.

PYRRHIC VICTORY

One of the most common problems with the human condition is that when a fault or breakdown occurs, the last person who touched whatever has failed is blamed, or the last time it was repaired or serviced is pinpointed as the cause…

So often this is not the case at all, as this case history will reveal.

At a firm where I worked for a number of years, we had a number of these ‘ever since you…’ type of comments. Typical ones that come to mind are ‘ever since you fitted those new tyres the radio hasn’t worked’. Or, ‘ever since you fitted that new radiator, the wipers haven’t worked’. And so on. 

In some respects, these comments really mask the speaker’s real need which is ‘convince me and reassure me in this matter’. It is really a question of diplomacy when dealing with customers, I suppose.

Anyway, on to the case in point. Jonathan Roundtree was the proud owner of a Porsche Carrera 996 which had been in to the local Porsche agent – Whizz Cars – for a routine service. When it was finished, Whizz cars delivered the vehicle back to Mr Roundtree’s place of work in London – a distance of some 35 miles.

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YESTERDAY’S SCRAP: TODAY’S APPRECIATING ASSET

Perhaps the start of a new year is a good time to reflect on how things have changed. I was prompted to do so by giving my grandson a transparent plastic model of an engine so that he can not only learn from assembling it but also see how an internal-combustion engine works.

I realised that in pure pound notes – without taking into account inflation! – the model kit cost twice that of the first engine I was fortunate enough to have worked on and learnt from. In fact, that was more than merely an engine: it was a complete car, an Austin Seven. Today to buy one even in the same condition would require over three hundred times the price paid then! It was not that long ago that we all finally woke up to the utter folly of scrapping much of our industrial heritage – certainly in the motor industry.

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