22 August 2002
Suppliers to Britain's niche car makers and the motorsport industry should be more willing to make parts to order, according to the UK's oldest car maker.
John Owen, chief engineer and buyer at specialist car maker AC Cars, which is 101 this year, said the sector needed a good database of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that can supply bespoke parts.
"I want a database that can tell me who does what," he said. "Sometimes we have trouble getting UK suppliers to make to order, so you say: 'Let's just buy it in South Africa'."
AC Cars, maker of the Cobra sports and racing car, has just moved production of its carbon fibre bodies to Malta, where labour and infrastructure costs are cheaper than in Britain. The firm expects to produce up to 300 cars a year. "Aluminum bodies will continue to be made in the UK because Britain has the best fabricators here," he said.
Chris Aylett, chief executive of the Motorsport Industry Association, said the sector was in good shape and still leads the world.