Porsche spe­cial­ist dis­cov­ers show­room link to grand prix icon

911 Porsche World - - News And Views -

Sur­rey Porsche in­de­pen­dent Charles Ivey is the first ever garage to bear an English Her­itage blue plaque, which cel­e­brates notable peo­ple of the past and the build­ings they oc­cu­pied. The grant­ing of the dis­tinc­tive rounded sig­nage was made pos­si­ble be­cause the own­ers chose to pre­serve the build­ing’s her­itage rather than sell for re­de­vel­op­ment to the high­est bid­der.

When pro­pri­etor Al­varo Crego moved Charles Ivey from Ful­ham to the Hol­ly­field Road, Sur­biton fa­cil­ity, the build­ing had been a po­lice ve­hi­cle de­pot for over 40 years. What Crego didn’t know was that the show­room and work­shop had orig­i­nally been the premises and head­quar­ters of the Cooper Car Com­pany. Founded in 1947, Cooper fa­mously built sin­gle­seat, rear-en­gined grand prix cars and lat­terly the Mini Cooper road car. ‘It was derelict, we had no idea of its his­tory,’ Crego says.

In a cer­e­mony in mid-au­gust at­tended by co-founder John Cooper’s son Michael and other fam­ily mem­bers, plus Cooper em­ploy­ees from the 1960s, the struc­ture with its curved frontage – de­scribed by English Her­itage as ‘Thun­der­birds architecture which cap­tured the moder­nity of 1957’ – be­came the 938th build­ing in London to bear a blue plaque and the first in Sur­biton. Sev­eral Mi­nis and a 1959 Cooper race car were on dis­play.

Michael Cooper said his fam­ily, who had re­tained own­er­ship of the build­ing, had planned to sell to a de­vel­oper but could not get an as­sur­ance that its char­ac­ter would be re­tained, so ac­cepted a lower price from Crego. ‘Some things are more im­por­tant than money,’ he told us. Michael is a BMW Mini brand am­bas­sador – but turned up in his Porsche Type-991 911.

The build­ing, which was sym­pa­thet­i­cally con­verted back to orig­i­nal af­ter the po­lice va­cated it in 2012, is now Grade II listed. Also in at­ten­dance at the cer­e­mony was Charles Ivey, who set up his Porsche busi­ness around 1971 and sold it to Crego (who be­gan there as an ap­pren­tice in 1978) on his re­tire­ment in 1991. The front show­room ac­com­mo­dates the Porsche 959 that was bought new in 1988 by Ivey, who re­vealed: ‘I was go­ing to buy two, but I de­cided to can­cel the or­der for one of them!’

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