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Moss at 70

 

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By Ian Cushway
15th October 2018

Moss celebrates its seventieth!

 

It’s not just the NHS that’s celebrating its 70th this year. Incredibly, we’re dusting off the champagne flutes (or should that be pint glasses) too in order to mark the fact that it’s seven decades since Moss Motors was established. As part of the commemorations, we sat down for a chat with Moss Europe Commercial Director Alex Chaperlin to discover how Moss started, what makes the business tick today and why we can be reassured of a happy future for our much loved classics...

 

Moss Commercial Director Alex Chaperlin

Credit: Image source - Moss Europe Ltd.

 

Moss Motors was established in 1948 to cater for British car lovers across the Pond. I guess you’ve probably not met founder Al Moss, but what’s the connection now with the US side of things?

AC: No, I never met Al Moss. Moss Europe is a subsidiary of Moss Motors and there is a huge amount of inter-company liaison and product development, we have R&D teams both here and in the States working to maintain a reliable availability of top quality parts.

 

Moss Motors purchased the entire obsolete stock of original factory parts from Rover in 1988. Can you remember that time and the parts being delivered to the Moss HQ?

AC: I think that was just before my time. However, there were purchases of obsolete stock from various UK dealers and depots in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and it was great making these parts available to enthusiasts. I remember unloading and sorting through some of those deliveries. We still have some of those items, which we keep as reference samples. Sadly, these job lots seldom become available nowadays.

 

Moss started selling parts in the UK in 1989 following the acquisition of the Classic British Sportscar Spares business which included Cox & Buckles, Sprite & Midget Centre, TriumphTune, Stafford’s MG parts and Naylor Bros. This was clearly a significant turning point and the group became known as Moss Europe. What’s been Moss’ philosophy or working ‘mantra’ since that time?

AC: Yes, whilst Al Moss started back in 1948, during the late ‘60s and ‘70s groups of UK enthusiasts were doing what they could to keep their cars on the road. Cox & Buckles grew from a couple of members of the TR Register (Pete Cox & Pete Buckles) helping fellow TR Register members keep their cars going. A similar situation happened with the Sprite & Midget Centre, enthusiasts (Graham Paddy & Neil Aldred) again working to provide people with parts by breaking cars and selling second-hand bits. These businesses rapidly grew and eventually merged to form the Classic British Sportscar Spares Group, which then became Moss Europe. It’s fair to say that the company was built by enthusiasts.

Our philosophy is simple; it is to provide enthusiasts with quality products at competitive prices so they can continue to enjoy their classics.

 

Moss at 70 blog image 01

Credit: Image source - Moss Europe Ltd.

 

Okay, tell us about when you joined Moss. Was it a career choice or your love of old cars that motivated you back then?

AC: It was definitely the latter. I can’t recall a time when I didn’t like cars. In fact, one of my earliest memories of what we now consider a classic, was seeing a TR6 on our street when I was around 6 years old. I’m sure it was a TR6 as I remember the black rear panel.

I have been involved with Moss since 1988 – I started my Saturday job at the Manor Road shop in Richmond, Surrey when I was 16 and worked there during college holidays too. I then worked up through the company, first in Sales, then Marketing and on to the Product development side of the business.

I've had quite a few classics over the years, my first was a Morris Minor which I learnt to drive in. I then had a GT6 Mk2, several Rover P6s, a TR6, a Triumph Herald, a Mini, a Stag, a couple of MGB GTs and a Golf MkI GTI Cabrio. However I think I’ve forgotten a few too, there's too many to mention! My current fleet includes a Rover P6 (on the road), a TR6 (restoration project), a Morris Minor (a future project), an MGB GT (a future project) and an Austin A40 which is also something I’ll get working on at some point in the future. I love the look of the Farina models.

 

Moss at 70 blog image 02

Credit: Image source - Moss Europe Ltd.

 

Moss Europe is a company run by enthusiasts for enthusiasts, so there must be plenty of classics in the car park?

AC:AC: Yes, we are very fortunate to have so many classic enthusiasts within our ranks and you can imagine the kind of conversations we have over our first mug of tea on a Monday morning! To give you a taste of some of the cars we own, in Bradford, Laura has a Mk1 MG Midget, a modified ‘89 Mini and a 1993 Mighty Mini (Cooper SPi). Steve has an MGB GT V8, a MGB Roadster, Matthew has a 1959 Austin A35, and Carl has a Frogeye Sprite and MGB Roadster.

At Moss Manchester the guys are also into their classics, particularly MGs. Mike has a 1971 MGB GT, currently awaiting minor work to recommission for the road…caravanning has taken over his spare time…. John has 2 x MGB V8 roadsters…1 recently restored, finished in red with cream leather interior. The other is being built around a BMH body shell with a 3.9 engine, 5 speed gearbox, plus many MGR V8 parts. Dave has a 1972 BRG MGB GT with a Webasto roof and 15” minatory wheels, which is almost complete and should be back on the road spring 2019. He also has a Teal blue MGB V8 Roadster, which is currently awaiting restoration. Originally converted in the early 1980s with many Costello parts. With an Andy Rouse uprated engine built in the 1990s...

At Moss Bristol, Owen has a Triumph herald 12/50 with a Rover V8 engine fitted, Martin’s gone down a similar route with his ’73 Spitfire by fitting a 2.5-litre injection motor in it, and Steve has a fleet of Austin A35s, a Commer Camper and several Triumphs. Jim in Bristol also has an A35 and Tony, well, he’s gone over to the dark side and bought a ‘50s Ford Pop with a small block Chevy engine in it! We talked about George’s 10+ car fleet in a recent blog – enough said!

We’ve got more classics at our London office too. Jeff has a TR5 and a Mini; Adam and his family are huge Triumph fans, (including MKI 2.5Pi saloon, MkI 2000 Estate, MkI Vitesse, TR6, Spitfire MkIII, Herald); Matt has a Mini, some unusual Japanese imports and a Porsche 928; Eddie is restoring a Spitfire MkIII; Chris C has a Mini Side Walk, Steve also has a Mini, Chris S has a Mini Clubman estate, a concours Ford Cortina MkII, Ford Mustang plus a few other classics; Rob has an MGB GT and a couple of MX5s; Tim has a turbo’d MX5, and of course let’s not forget our team in Paris. Salesman Vincent Bichet drives around in an Austin Mini Cooper, William Mairesse has a Triumph TR3, Matt has a MGB powered TVR and Laurent, well, we can’t keep up with his passion for classics.

 

Moss at 70 blog image 03

Credit: Image source - Moss Europe Ltd.

 

TV celebrity Mike Brewer dropped by didn’t he – but have there been any other customers with an interesting story to tell?

AC: That’s right, yes, it was great to have Mike here and we were thrilled to get involved in his MGA project. We also helped the guys at CAR SOS with an MGA last year. We do get a good stream of customers at the shop with a wide range of classics and when something really interesting turns up, everyone goes out into the car park to have a closer look.

 

Moss at 70 blog image 04

Credit: Image source - Moss Europe Ltd.

 

It seems the classic car scene is bigger than ever globally and growing all the time. Why do you think this is, what’s good about classic cars? What is it about classic British cars that makes them so popular with enthusiasts?

AC: The scene is huge and getting bigger. There are so many TV shows and magazines supporting all flavours of classics and cars have become more than just a hobby. There’s never been an easier or more fun time to own a classic than now!

 

What makes Moss different or stand out from other parts suppliers?

AC: I guess we stand out from the rest due to our knowledge base and vast inventory. Having been in the business for so many years we have built up a wealth of experience, which comes through in our restoration catalogues. We also have probably the deepest inventory and remanufacturing program in the industry. We are committed to keeping classics on the road.

 

Moss at 70 blog image 05

Credit: Image source - Moss Europe Ltd.

 

The challenge facing the classic industry is how to attract a new generation of enthusiasts. Is Moss planning to do anything to get more young people involved in the scene?

AC: Yes, for sure, we’re well aware of the importance of getting young people behind the wheel of older vehicles. Classic cars are sometimes more challenging to own and drive, but actually, that’s a good thing because it encourages young people to connect with their vehicles, learn a bit more about how they work and master their driving technique. Also, classic cars can be cheaper to run if you maintain them yourselves, and potentially less expensive to insure.

 

Moss at 70 blog image 06

Credit: Image source - Moss Europe Ltd.

 

Where does Moss go from here, what exciting things have you got lined up?

AC: We are continuing our commitment to our core classic marques and models – MG, TR, Mini, etc. The really exciting bit of news, however, with the recent acquisition of XKs Unlimited, is that we will be further developing our Jaguar range. We have been selling Jaguar parts for years but Jaguar owners can now look forward to even greater parts support in future.

 

Moss at 70 blog image 07

Credit: Image source - Moss Europe Ltd.

 

 

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