Featured Garage - Charles Ware Morris Minor Centre
27 March, 2014
This month’s ‘Featured Garage’ is Charles Ware Morris Minor Centre; a Morris Minor specialist, who specialises in the repair and restoration of Morris Minors and other classic cars.
We visited Zac Ware, son of Charles Ware, to ask him a few questions regarding his business and the motor trade industry in general.
1. Biography - tell us about your business
We provide a specialised service in the restoration, care and repair of Morris Minors and other classic cars. We offer a complete range of new and used Morris Minor parts and spares and have unrivalled experience and specialist expertise. We cover all aspects of restoration including bodywork/spraying, trim and upholstery, welding and mechanics.
The majority of our customers are based in the UK and have owned their cars for a long time, but we have also seen young drivers having an interest in these vehicles. They come to us for parts and expert help as they like the idea of restoring these cars themselves. We do also have a few customers abroad and have a loyal customer base.
2. Tell us about your background - how did you get into the motor trade industry?
This business was originally my father’s passion, having worked in the building trade Charles Ware was an avid supporter of conservation in the building industry having campaigned against the demolition of buildings in Camden and the Georgian houses in Bath.
He spotted a gap in the market for Morris Minors in 1976. With the close of production a few years earlier, he recognised this much loved vehicle was still in popular demand.
Myself, my first passion is music, I am lucky enough to be able to make a living in music being a guitarist for the Proclaimers but I do enjoy the restoration side of the business.
3. Can you give us some history about how the business came about and how it has evolved?
My father set up this business in Bath, initially buying and selling Morris Minors. Over the years this has developed to include restoration and has further expanded to selling the parts worldwide. Today trading from Bristol the business has been passed to me and I continue the legacy of this iconic british vehicle.
4. What is the most usual or interesting vehicle you have worked on?
Morris Minor was the first British car to sell a million units. In 1960 a limited edition of 350 Minor 1000's were made celebrating the Millionth Minor produced, all finished in lilac paint and had white and gold leather seats with special ‘Minor 1000000' badges, approximately 40 are known to have survived to date. We currently have one of these rare Minor Millions in our workshop undergoing restoration.
5. What do you most enjoy about the motor trade business?
Seeing the vehicle come in as a rusty, wreck of a car and leaving the workshop having had new lease of life breathed into it. From wreck to riches!!
What better way to reduce your carbon footprint than to restore a classic car which is cheaper to run and insure and is enjoyable to drive.
We use traditional hand crafted techniques and have some exceptionally skilled people, some have been here over 30 years.
I believe we provide something durable which is a part of our British heritage.
6. How would you say the motor trade industry has changed over the years?
It’s much more difficult to get staff with the skills. We were looking for a panel beater recently and it took a little time to find someone who had the skills and was used to the physical work involved.
7. Where do you see your business in 10 years?
We have such great skills here and experience in classic car restoration we would love to apply these skills to other marquees of cars. Charles Ware’s is synonymous with Morris Minor restoration but we do also restore many other marques of classic cars and I see our business expanding more into these areas.
We are also looking to enhance our online parts buying offering.
8. What would you say are the challenges for your business in the future?
The reducing numbers of Morris Minors and trying to source parts causes its own challenges. We are looking to expand restoration out into other marques such as the older Mini cars.
9. Has the current economic times impacted on your business?
In 2007 we did feel the effects of the credit crunch but today Morris Minor is seen as a more desirable vehicle and is one of the cars of choice that a classic car collector wants in his collection.
10. If you where prime minster for the day, what would you do to help the motor trade industry?
The encouragement of the apprenticeships scheme in the industry and government support to help businesses with this is something I’d look at.
Also breaks in taxation to help businesses grow and invest would also be useful.
11. What vehicle would you most like to own?
One that works !!
12. What advice or tips would you give to someone who is just starting in the industry?
In the vehicle restoration industry you will need more than a desire to set up a business to make money, you also need the passion and a real love for what you do.
It’s not a quick way to make money; it is loads of hard work and dedication.