by Robert Goldman
In the parts business, we talk about being the last manufacturer of buggy whips. When was the last time you saw a horse drawn carriage, outside of Amish country, driving down the road? The story goes, in spite of horse drawn carriages being no longer considered front line transportation, there still has to be one last manufacturer of buggy whips.
Have you tried buying a buggy whip lately? You can. In fact, a quick web search provides a rich offering of makers and styles. When I see some of the online remarks about the end of Victoria British, I can only snigger and think buggy whips.
Nobody wants to see less competition, but markets have to adjust. Interest in our favorite little British cars is still very strong. We must acknowledge, however, they are no longer sufficiently main stream to be the sports cars of choice for younger people. The Mazda Miata has grabbed that mantle. In the case of Long Motors, they have made a long term decision to concentrate on trucks.
While Moss has tested various waters along the way, we always revert to our core, the LBCs. Of course, today we’ve added some rather not small Jaguars to our line, though they are very much in keeping with the vendors already in our system. We are very proud of the fact VB chose us to continue their legacy.
Industry consolidation affects all of us, and has done so for quite some time, often in ways which are not completely obvious. A couple years ago, at a Jaguar event, I was asked to participate in a panel discussion. The representative from Jaguar was a marketing guy. He knew the product road map, but got knocked off base when asked about original “concourse” exhaust systems for early Jags. The premise was, why can’t Jaguar make correct, original mild steel systems, and sell them at a high price?
Sadly, the truth is low volume exhaust systems today are built in stainless steel. Jaguar contracts their manufacturing, and none of their vendors work with mild steel. Moss Motors has pursued this before, but the answer always comes back we have to buy several metric tons of raw material and buy hundreds of systems. The market will not support the investment. Mild steel has been “consolidated” out of the exhaust system manufacturing stream.
No one at Moss imagines the loss of VB will be invisible to the market. We understand, in spite of efforts to the contrary, some folks just don’t want to deal with us. In truth, there are dozens of specialists still in the British business, and they’ll be there for many years to come. And those “expensive” parts we sell, over time, look better and better compared to some parts for modern cars.
If you need a buggy whip, just search the web. They’re out there. If you need LBC parts, we’re still here, as are a dog’s breakfast of other options. Leo Long may be gone, but the British market is stronger for his legacy. Whether you prefer “Maintaining the Breed” or “Keep ‘em on the Road,” the spirit is the same. We’re all in this together. MM