Tudor Wheels Ltd.
It is not surprising that Richard Skinner now runs a very successful business, restoring cars and specialising in wheel rebuilding and refurbishment.
I first met his father David in 1963 when he was a volunteer driver at the Montagu Motor Museum. He worked at Vickers Armstrong but his hobby was centred around Model T Fords and Brescia Bugattis, quite a contrast. David and his wife Moira came to the first Autojumble in 1967, when Moira was pregnant with Richard who because of this has proudly been to every one of the September Autojumbles!
Richard spent the first twenty five years of his life in the motor industry, but his real love was vintage vehicle restoration with a particular interest in wheels. He loved rebuilding all types of wheels.
Many years ago he was approached by the owner of an MGB with Rostyle wheels asking if he would refurbish them for him. This then started a side line business. Later he picked up a lot of wheel rebuilding from owners of high-end vehicles. He continued restoring cars and classic motorcycles for himself. He had been a member of the Model T Ford Club since he was 14. He was also very good at finding secret hordes of car spares, purchasing them sorting them and selling them on to the right people.
Four and a half years ago when he was 45 he was fed up with the day job. He and his wife had bought a delightful thatched cottage on the edge of the New Forest. By this time he had a great deal of experience so he turned his side line of wheel rebuilding into a full time occupation coupled with work on Model T’s.
Tudor Wheels can work on any type of wheel from veteran to late classic, whether it be a road car or competition car. He wants his business to be a “household name in wheel renovation”. He says “if it’s a wheel I will fix it”.
He is still a one man band and intends to stay that way. All wheels that come for repair are personally assessed by Richard and a note made of repairs required. They are then processed whether they require blasting and powder coating, spoking and lacing or rebuilding if wooden wheels. When it comes to tyres he works closely with Vintage Tyre Supplies at nearby Beaulieu. They too recommend their customers to him where wheel repairs are concerned. Richard is well aware that collectors of high end cars often have a Model T Ford in their collection, if he does good work on that for them you never know what comes next!
On the car restoration side he has expanded away from T Fords and will tackle almost any car pre-1931. He told me that the two sides to the business work well together. Collectors who are happy with his wheel work, will often offer him interesting cars to restore or work on.
His business depends on personal recommendation, he does take some paid advertising but is not sure if its effective. He finds he gets a lot of work through his wide social media contacts on Facebook.
He is also a good publicist and his public relations skills are first rate. Visitors to the September Beaulieu Autojumble will have seen the restored running Model T Ford chassis on the Practical Classics stand.
This had been exhibited at the NEC and Spring Autojumble as a true barn find. Richard has restored the car so far for the magazine who are writing it up. When finished it will be taken on a long trip which will also be covered in the pages of the magazine.
He has a very good friend living in the USA who finds unmolested Model T’s which are sent to Richard who restores them or works on them as necessary and sells them on. Though this is only a side line he has sold around ten Model T’s a year.
He hopes that this mix of interests will stand him in good stead in the future, he does not want to take on too much work as he certainly does not want to jeopardise the very good reputation he has built up. He described what he has created as ”a cottage industry with passion”.
from p. 6 of issue December 2016
Subscribe now - http://classicmotor.co.uk/classic-motor-monthly-subscriptions