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

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