The big story
ÔSpeedy had to adapt or change its business approachÕ
Iinterest in Rootes Group cars is growing, and there’s a longestablished business dedicated to keeping Hillmans, Humbers, Singers and Sunbeams on the road.
Portslade-based Speedy Spares started in 1965 as a general accessory shop and motor factor, supplying motorists and local garages with parts, washer bottle kits, wing mirrors and polishes.
‘My aunt, Joan Davies, started the business, and her husband, Jack, owned RJ Grimes of Coulsdon, which also supplied Rootes parts,’ says Speedy Spares’ Sarah Benson. ‘In the 1980s and 1990s it supplied spares for all makes and models but by the mid-1990s several motor factors close by offered a local van delivery service, which we didn’t, because it helped us to keep prices down. Most of our customers preferred to call in and see us.’
The demand for electronic catalogues and more stock meant that Speedy Spares had to adapt, or change its business approach. Says Sarah: ‘It seemed logical to change direction. We already had lots of parts for older British cars but when Jack died we decided to save as much of his stock as possible, predominately Rootes Grouprelated, rather than parts for the later Peugeot and Talbot models.’
Some dealers claim that Rootes Group interest is firming up, but Sarah reckons that demand for parts remains constant as cars change hands. She says: ‘ We have a lot of calls related to Seriesmodel Sunbeam Alpines, as well as Humber Sceptre MkIs and IIs and all derivatives of the Hunter. We also have regular calls relating to Humber Hawks and Snipes.’
Today’s stock is centred mainly on mechanical components rather than bodywork and trim, although a few old stock panels are still available. But when it comes to mechanical parts, Rootes’ shared engines – and the 1725cc unit in particular – is
great news when it comes to saving on shelf space. ‘From the stocking point of view, the cars have a lot of similarities, and that really helps us,’ says Sarah.
Speedy Spares’ success saw it moving from its original single shop into the neighbouring three and today Joan Davies and her four staff are still helping to keep Rootes Group cars on the road. Today 95 percent of orders are mail-order via the telephone (01273 417889/412764), although enquires can be made via its website.