Dealer View Robin Lawton
A ‘professional enthusiast’ of pre-war cars reveals all
How long have you been involved with old cars?
I bought my first car at 15 – an Austin 7 Ruby, which cost the princely sum of 17/6d! I got it running and drove it around a friend’s orchard for a couple of months. I decided to break it for spares and duly sold the back axle for twice what I’d paid for the car!
How long have you sold cars?
I have been in the motor trade since 1968, when I joined Wadhams. Setting up fully on my own would have been 1982, although I had been selling a few pre-war cars from the forecourt of a garage in Guildford since 1973. I moved the business to Barrack Rd in Stoughton, north of Guildford, in the mid-1980s, where I remained until 1993, before moving to Whitchurch for a couple of years. My current business is based in Hampshire, near Petersfield.
What era of cars and why?
My current stock is mostly pre-1960, and I do tend to concentrate on 1920s/30s, as this is my favourite period of automotive history. I also have a soft spot for Austin-Healey ‘Frogeye’ Sprites, MGAs and TRs as well, so these are often to be found in stock, along with quality cars of the immediate post-war era.
How is the pre-war sector doing?
I’m known as a specialist in the pre-war era and I sell a good number of cars – many of them to previous customers. I can truthfully say that this sector of the market has not, contrary to what some others have said, shown a downturn.
What makes and models are proving popular?
A look at my website will show how many cars have found new homes in recent months. MG, Riley and Alvis have been selling well in the past year and Austin Sevens are a true ‘evergreen’, appealing, as they do, to all age groups of buyer. One thing I like about the pre-war market is that, by and large, the customers are on my wavelength and know what they are buying. As a ‘professional enthusiast’ – don’t call me a dealer! – I enjoy the camaraderie and banter with the seasoned Vintage car people who come to the garage.
‘I enjoy the camaraderie and banter’
Pre-war sector of the market is still buoyant, says Robin Lawton