Another example of how I put lucrative business their way happened in early 1990 after the V12’s were finished. I had put in a couple of adverts in Classic and Sportscar magazine for fully built Vipers. Now I have advertised many times in the past in this mag, and it was really only a mag for fully built cars, and that was what I was after. In the world of Classic cars the trade mark Viper would be largely unknown, so in my mind advertising it as a Viper would not gain any recognition on their readers. So I merely advertised the Cobra Replica as a fully built car that one could order. The picture I used was also used on my
kitcar brochure. It is plainly a Viper Cobra as my replica of this car has the widest front arches of any Cobra Replica and how many mainstream manufacturers advertise a model of theirs
without saying it is a …. There is currently at this time an ad running on TV for a VW and they do not say what model it is. Yet later on the Patent Office used the excuse that because I did not state that this car I advertised, that was tantamount to abandoning my trade mark. That is the stupidity of certain civil servants and it helped along with other stupid and perverse reasons made, for me to lose my opposition to Busbridges application to register my trade mark. You will see this later on.
However this advert brought me two people who wanted me to build a fully built Viper for them. First there was a Dutch guy and I started that car. Then a guy called Dr Bechtolsheimer who lived in this country in Cirencester, came to see me. He had seen the advert and he had also seen my Viper in a kitcar mag under the agency of Busbridge/Cobretti.
He said that both cars appeared to be the same and had the same trade mark. I told him that this was so because Cobretti were my agents. He wanted his car straight away, asap. I said I would have to build and finish the current car but if he was in that much of a hurry I did not mind if he went back to Cobretti and got them to build it. I would be supplying the kit and parts anyway. So that is what happened. I duly received the written orders for that car off Busbridge. This car will feature again later. However the order was worth some £23,000 and even though I could have taken on someone locally to help me build that car I passed it onto Busbridge because I viewed him as my agent and he showed no gratitude whatsoever. Later on you will see how he repaid me for this.
Another way I helped out Cobretti to get more business, and myself as well, was by setting up a Cobra Replica parts business. Some of the Viper parts needed to fully build the car were manufactured by me, and other parts were what you can call Universal Cobra Replica parts. As I was buying these kind of parts in order for me to fully build Cars, it amde sense to offer them to builders of other makes of Cobra Replicas. The obvious place for these to be sold was through Cobretti as they had a RETAIL business and I did not. Plus I did not want to be bothered with the Public ringing me up etc. So I paid for an advert to appear to sell these parts but giving their address. So for no cost to them they could make a slice of the profits of any sales. Again no gratitude and I was later on repaid by them lying about this operation.
We are now into an area of time which is coming up to mid 1991, for after I had finished building the Dutch car, no further orders were forthcoming from anywhere and the recession had gone into full mode. The future suddenly looked bleak for me on the fully built area of things and kits were not selling through Cobretti, either. What was I to do?
Well I had been talking to my Swiss agent about business in general. He was in Swiss banking so was fully aware of the financial shit Britain was in. He told me that things in his country were still OK. He was talking to a rich oil man in Zurich who wanted a racing Cobra built, but wanted it built in Swissland. He suggested that if things did not buck up in the UK why didn’t I whip over there and build it and see how things panned out back home.
So by end of May I had this was what I was going to do. Quite frankly I was getting pissed off with the goings on at Cobretti. They were proving to be pretty poor businessmen and Bob was proving to be the cause. I always found Martin his brother the more intelligent of the two and it was him that I mostly dealt with.
I suppose one thing that really opened my eyes to them was when another scheme I thought of in order that we both made more money, was to bring back the Viper4. Initially after BRL closed down, even though I had bought the rights to that model of Viper (as it had been designed and paid for by BRL, unlike the Granada and Jaguar kits that belonged to me, the Viper4 legally belonged to BRL)I had bought from the debenture holders. Initially Busbridge also did not want to be bothered with a cheap Cobra, preferring to stick with only the better Jag based Viper. This attitude changed when business started to lessen and we did a deal to resurrect the Cortina based Viper. I got someone I knew up in Liverpool to make the Cortina chassis and one was made. I offered to pay them to make up a copmplete car which could then be used as a demo car and we could exhibit it at the next kitcar show, which from memory was near them in any case.
They were very slow in making it and the show time was fast approaching, so I offered to come up to London and help get it finished. Martin offered to put me up at his house in
Epsom area for the week. So I got to see first hand just how they ran their business, and I was appalled. They were very disorganised and it became obvious to me that if they continued in the way there were running the business, they would go bankrupt. Also it was apparent they couldn’t afford the high rent of their workshop. This is when I wrote them the letter outlining how they could change to a better way of running things. They obviously did not take it too well as I have said.
After the show I took the car off them as I was not satisfied with the quality of the finish which was crap in many areas. Good job I did as it was not too long after this when I decided to go to Swissland, and I took the car there and sold it to my German agent. What really gets me is the way this lying bastard Busbridge completely ignores, when he is slagging me off, is all the business I put their way and how I trusted them. More tomorrow.