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You can trace the origins of West Sussex-based Copthorne Classics some way beyond when the firm was founded in 2016.
That boy was called Lee Davies – and, thanks to a namesake tradition spanning three generations, so is his father.
Together they have created a British-car specialist founded in family values and focused on Aston and Jaguar.
It was inevitable. By the time Davies Jnr left school, only one career was on his mind.
After a year he moved to an Aston specialist, and finally worked under the wing of a former Jaguar engineer, learning all he could before his retirement.
Davies Snr was supportive of his son’s choices from the moment he first picked up a spanner.
“I could see the value in his apprenticeships,” he says, proudly, “and during that time plans were hatched to start our own family business.”
This father-and-son team share a passion for – and deep knowledge of – cars in the traditional mould.
The business is shaped on experience of both sides of the counter: son as an engineer, and father as a lifelong customer.
“Since establishing our workshop in early 2017, we’ve worked hard to balance a premium customer experience with a family feel,” says Davies Snr, “and to specialise in cars that fuel our interest.”
One door leads to an immaculate engine room with Jaguar XKs and V12s mid-assembly, while another takes you to the main workshop that forms the heart of the operation.
Here there’s a representative spread of vehicles – from those visiting briefly for light servicing to more involved restorations and engine surgery. The business thrives on repeat visits and word-of-mouth recommendation.
“Alongside classic and modern-classic Astons, we do our fair share of E-types and Mk2s,” says Davies Jnr, “but we’ve found demand for later-generation cars with carefully selected upgrades for performance and drivability.”
Here he means XJs and XJ-Ss, often true to their period rather than outright restomods.
The Daimler we saw earlier is a perfect example: it’s a full rebuild, but with a manual ’box, triple SUs and a host of tweaks to help its 4.2-litre ‘six’ achieve near-V12 levels of power.
An XJC is being dismantled for the same treatment – simply because its owner had seen the work in progress on the first car.
“The XJ is a prototype for a package of upgrades we plan to launch later this year,” says Davies Jnr.
Davies also has plans for Series 3s, and has secured an XJ-S prototype for late summer, too.
Although there’s a focus on the cars of Newport Pagnell and Coventry, the portfolio extends to other British marques.
A scroll through the busy Instagram feed reveals work on everything from AC to MG – and a fair few Lotus models in between. It’s the mixture of a traditional work ethic with a progressive vision that’s interesting.
The firm can be relied on for the usual services, but because every turn of a spanner is carried out by a father-and-son team, it brings a cross-generational experience – not only to the eras of British classic cars they work on, but also to the ideas they bring to life.
Images: Will Williams
- Name Copthorne Classics
- Address Unit 10, Barns Court, Turners Hill Road, Copthorne, West Sussex RH10 4HQ
- Specialism Aston Martin, Jaguar and British classics
- Staff Three
- Prices £95 per hour (with discounts for project work)
- Tel 01342 712600
- Web copthorneclassicgarage.com
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org