Classic Sports Car


- Mark Parkes SOUTHERN TRIUMPH SERVICES 01202 423687; southerntr­

How long have you been in business? More than 35 years now. We’ve rebuilt 400-plus classic Triumphs, and have them in nearly 30 different countries.

How did you get into the industry?

It was an itch I had to scratch. I needed to prove to myself that I could rebuild my favourite cars better than the work I’d had carried out for me by other firms. I didn’t like the way cars were going, even back in the ’80s, so I thought I should make old cars better. This was recycling before it was called that: why throw something away when it isn’t worn out yet?

What’s the best car you’ve ever owned? The two 2.5 PIS that competed in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally.

And what’s the worst? A very tired pre-facelift Spitfire MKIV. They weren’t great cars, and even to a hardened Triumph enthusiast a leaky, draughty, smelly, rusty MKIV was just plain nasty.

What’s your daily driver? A Volvo XC70. It’s done 175k miles, does 40mpg-plus and heated seats are a trick Triumph missed.

What would you never part with?

A Damson 2000 Mk1 that I bought for £50 as a student and ran on a shoestring. I’ve now owned it for 40 years.

What’s your dream classic? I have realised my dream to an extent because I’ve bought a Dodge Coronet, but it’s still in Boise, Idaho, so I haven’t driven it yet.

How’s business? We have a very loyal and increasing customer base that knows what we do. There is a waiting list for larger body rebuilds, but many people don’t mind waiting for better-quality work.

What does the future hold? I think the future will be very active. There are some lovely cars out there, but the quality of the parts they’ve been built with creates some quite serious issues. Servos that don’t work, brake master cylinders that leak, rubber bushes that deteriorat­e in the box, and don’t get me started on clutches!

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