CCCR entertained some very special guests a few weeks ago in the form of Dave and June Perkin from Tavistock in Devon. Dave and June used to own a company called "Abbey Body works" in Tavistock which was a vehicle body repair specialist where I apprenticed many years ago. Dave Perkin apprenticed himself back in the mid fifties when the Jaguar XK140 was a new model and the glorious E type was not yet a finished design!. I remember him telling me how he was taught not to waste metal when making repair patches from a new sheet of steel (after all this was not too long after the war and there was still a steel shortage!). He worked at various BMC dealerships in Plymouth and surrounding area throughout the 1950's-60's and 70's until he set up his own company in Tavistock with the help of his wife June.
He was a keen motorsport competitor and very successfully competed in events with the Tavistock and Plymouth Motor clubs using a variety of vehicles including MK 1 Mini Coopers and Triumph Dolomite Sprints, I can vouch for how fast he could (And probably still can!) drive, we had several entertaining trips in his Audi GT Coupe 2.2 (My finger nails firmly embedded in the dash board indicating we had arrived at our destination a tad quicker than I thought possible......)
Dave had trained as a panel beater but was also a self taught painter, he was without doubt the best all round vehicle body repairer I have ever had the pleasure to work. His quality of work was to the highest of standards all the time regardless of the value of vehicle he was working on. His customer retention was virtually 100% and we worked many late nights and weekends together some times to 3.30 A.M.. to make sure the customer had his vehicle on time. He had his funny ways as well I remember many frustrating hours trawling through trays and trays of second hand nuts and bolts trying to find some thing suitable to finish a job, to save money there was no nut/bolt stores..... Those wasted hours left a mental scar on me as CCCR has thousands of pounds worth of stock never again will I or any one on the CCCR team waste time checking threads and lengths on rusty fasteners!!
That aside he was a brilliant trades man I watched him Stretch a concertinaed wing (half its original length) with the help of a hydraulic ram and dress it back into shape without tearing the metal, the spray shop he told me should be "clean like a operating theater" and his was, and I watched him set up valve clearances, ignition timing and carburetion on a Kent engine so it sounded as smooth and quiet as a sewing machine. With June in the office working the then modern word processor keeping all office duties in check and the other talented painters and panel beaters Abbey Body Works was a happy well run company with a great reputation.
Dave and June Perkin admiring a DB4 at CCCR
Dave and June retired some years ago and closed Abbey Body Works down but in a way I like to think it lives on in CCCR with our quality of workmanship and service we provide. As Director of CCCR a lot of things said to me by Dave many years ago now have more meaning to me and I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity I got to be trained by such people for with out having such a good formal education in vehicle body repair CCCR could not exist today!