View From The Top
Welcome to the Spring Newsletter. We are often asked if this is a “quiet time of the year”. Looking across the Workshop it is definitely not and we are flat out on a range of cars from a late Blenheim service to a re-engine in an early 400 Bristol. Indeed, in the last 10 years there have rarely been seasonally variable “slack periods”. Over the winter owners are getting longer term work completed on their cars in preparation for activity when the weather has improved and in the summer it tends to be servicing and repairs in between outings. Under all of that work are the longer term restorations and we normally have at least two cars underway for major “refreshment”. Not unlike thatched cottages in need of attention, one sometimes wonders where these (limited production) cars keep coming from.
There have been a few staff changes since the last Newsletter. Most importantly Company Secretary, Fiona Stafford, has decided to step down after a remarkable 23 years with the team. Whilst her planned departure leaves a large hole to fill, she will still keep in close touch as a consultant on advertising and publicity. Emma Toulson-Clarke has taken over the role and many owners will have already met her on the ‘phone or in person over the winter. Mechanic Steve Colloby has moved away after nine years in post but we have been fortunate to take on mechanics Geoff Bird and James Allen. Later this year we will be taking on a young apprentice to ensure we have an eye on the future. Nick Cooper now heads up the ever-expanding stores as well as continuing to deliver in the Workshop and Rob Welch assumes the role of Workshop Foreman.
Over many years we have evolved some interesting upgrades for 2 litre and V8 Bristol cars. Whilst some owners might recoil at the idea of modifying their pride and joy perhaps: cabin heaters that provide hot air; wipers that clear the screen over 15mph; brakes that consistently arrest progress from high speed; lights that not only illuminate the way ahead but also ensure the car can be seen by those following; and many other “improvements” have something to recommend them. Remembering that some of our cars are over 70 years old, the aim with these upgrades is to harness developing technology to improve the Bristol driving experience, making the cars more enjoyable to drive and enhancing safety. We are currently developing a catalogue of available upgrades for both 2 litre and V8 cars that we hope to publish soon.
Having been on site for seven years, work and staff expansions have led to some thoughts on larger premises but we will stay put for the time being, albeit with a number of planned modifications to the existing infrastructure. We now have a substantial storage facility nearby allowing us the chance to offer secure storage when cars are not required at home. In addition, a new top-of the–range covered transporter trailer allows us the chance to provide owners with a collection and delivery service anywhere in the country. We are also looking into expanding our machining facilities in order to offer a wider range of engineering tasks in-house.
SLJ Ltd Out & About
Perhaps the highlight since last year for the firm was receipt of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for those who had been voluntarily involved in preparing the sectioned Bristol 403 for the new Bristol Aerospace Centre. The huge efforts put into the car have since been acknowledged by Aerospace where, according to public feedback from several thousand visitors, the car is second only to Concorde in terms of its popularity amongst many hundreds of other exhibits.
SL-J Ltd sponsored the Bristol Owners’ Club Concours event in August last year and was involved in the preparation of several of the class winning cars.
The “Out and About” season finished traditionally at the Castle Combe circuit for the increasingly popular October Classic Race meeting where SL-J Ltd sponsored the Fifties Sports Car race. Sadly Peter was unable to compete in the Wingfield Special but hopes to be out again sometime this year.
After much internal debate we took the plunge and invested in a brand new Brian James transporter trailer late last year. It is a substantial beast capable of swallowing the largest Bristol and seen here laden with a 412 model. This now gives us the option to collect and/or deliver your car from where ever you might be, hopefully shouldering some of the administrative burden when your car is consigned for service or repair. Most recently we delivered a car to Paris, demonstrating we are not restricted to just the UK.
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Our sister company, SLJ Hackett Ltd have continued to grow and prosper in the current car market and have just recently had their best month on record selling a whopping six cars in February which has seen their enigmatic leader, Richard Hackett, certainly wearing a smug smile for the past few days. See their website for more information. www.sljhackett.co.uk.