Made in Britain

The Complex World of Procurement & How it Keeps Your Classic on The Road

We are often amused by the assumption that all aftermarket parts are made in China. Underlying this seems to be the assumption that all genuine parts are made in Britain (or Germany, or wherever the manufacturer of the car in question is based). The truth is much more complicated. These days all supply chains are global. Original Equipment Manufacturers (or OEMs) such as TRW and Lemforder are based in Germany, but they have factories all over the world. “German Engineered” is a euphemism for “designed in Germany but probably made elsewhere”. Add to this that many components are complicated, requiring sub components and assemblies to be made in various parts of the world.

Another issue is that so-called Original Equipment has often been re-sourced to the lowest bidder. We no longer use “genuine” Lucas ignition contacts and condensors, for example, because they are vastly inferior to the original Lucas specification. Instead we have had them specially made for us. If you don’t believe us, try a new “original” Lucas product and then fit ours. 

At IntroCar, we specialise in finding suppliers to the aftermarket. These are the people who are set up to manufacturer smaller production runs and who understand batch rather than line production. We work with them to eliminate inefficiencies, sometimes using modern technology and machines to replace older techniques, and usually buying multi-year stocks to ensure we are paying the best possible price. The key is investing in your suppliers – allowing them to manufacture the right tools, buying enough to utilise minimum material requirements, and purchasing a volume that allows them to make money without having to inflate the unit price. Our suppliers are our partners. We respect their needs and understand that they need to make money too. Without them, there are no parts, and fewer classic cars on the road.

Most people don’t know this, but between 96-98% of the parts in the Prestige Parts range are sourced in Britain. This enables us to stay close to our suppliers. If there is a problem or a question about a product, our supplier is just a drive away. Of course, in the modern world even small to medium producers may have plants that are based overseas for part of the production work. However, when we deal with suppliers in Britain we know that they have long-term working relationships or direct ownership in factories, so managing quality control is built into the framework of the relationship, and maintaining quality occurs right here in the United Kingdom.

Of course, there are products that we buy away from Western manufacturers. The reason for this is never just price. The most complicated body seals we have manufactured are made in Thailand. Why? They have better toolmakers than anyone else, so the product is just plain better. Was this cheaper? Absolutely not, but we don’t care. Just look at the range and quality of our seals.

The truth is that there are excellent manufacturers in Britain, Germany, France, etc. and in the Far East. There are also less-than-excellent manufacturers in all those countries. The real trick is to know which is which, and that is what IntroCar does well.