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James Frost may be a new face to some of you, but your cars have already known him for many years!
We first introduced James to the business back in 1993. He was just 16 years old and joined us for 3 years as a trainee Technician while attending college. We were delighted to see him back in 2005, when he brought a wealth of his own experience as a Technician to H&L for a further 3 years.
Finally, in 2012, he returned to H&L, as an even more experienced Technician and has been with us ever since. Over the years he has gained a vast knowledge, not only of cars, but also of the H&L business.
We were delighted to recognise his contribution to H&L in April of this year, by offering him the role of Service Manager. He already knows many of our customers’ names, and although he may only just be starting to get to know their faces, he certainly knows their cars. This gives customers the reassurance that when he talks about their cars, he knows his stuff!
We are proud to have watched James grow through his career and now have him join the management team – with every confidence that he will deliver a first class service to our customers.
When Renault UK told H&L customer Mr Skinner that the part he required for his Renault Espace was no longer available, it looked liked his car was headed for the scrap heap. But with a bit of thinking outside the box and a trip to France, H&L were able to get his Espace back on the road.
Rewind a couple months and Mr Skinner was very happy with his 2002 Renault Espace. It had always been reliable and drove well, until he began to experience problems starting his car. It would take several goes to start – from 5 or even 32 – every time! Clearly not a safe way to be driving the car. On inspection, the issue turned out to be the immobiliser, which was no longer able to read Mr Skinner’s key properly and was therefore preventing the car from starting as it should. So the next step was to source a replacement immobiliser. A simple solution… or maybe not!
On contacting Renault UK, we were advised that the Renault Espace 2002 was no longer supported by Renault and that it would not be possible to replace the immobiliser. This seemed like madness given the car’s otherwise good history, so we tried sourcing it second hand from the internet, breakers yards and even eBay – but to no avail. Not wanting to accept defeat, Peter thought he’d give it one last shot during his skiing trip to France. Armed with a photo and the part number, he took a little time out while he was “on holiday” in France and found a garage. The French owner confirmed the part was no longer available, and offered to “try the graveyard” (their words!). The search was successful and Peter came back from skiing with the part. He plugged it in and it worked! All for just 20 Euro and a bit of labour!
A few weeks later, Mr Skinner is still happily driving his Espace, which he describes as being back to its old self. “I cannot thank H&L enough. Peter definitely went beyond his remit to satisfy the customer and for that I am deeply grateful”
You may have noticed that our iconic vintage Morris Minor van has not been spotted outside the H&L Reception for a few weeks. This is so our vehicle technicians can give her a careful makeover ready for the summer.
As you can see, she’s in pretty good shape considering she’s over 60 years old. There’s very little rust and we’re painstakingly preparing each section to get her ready for her re-paint.
Our Morris dates right back to 1953 – the year my father, Henry Laney, started H&L Motors as a one-man band in a single workshop to offer quality service to local motorists.
A lot has changed since then: Although 99% of the parts are still available, the features we would take for granted in a modern car, such as a radio, heating, automatic headlamp levelling and wing mirrors (!) would have been optional extras with a 1953 Morris Minor van, and we could have expected to get from 0-60 in 29.2 seconds.
And a lot has changed in our business too. Today, we have over 30 highly trained vehicle technicians, who have access to some of the most advanced diagnostic, recalibration, welding, bodywork and wheel equipment. But the heart of our business is the same as it was in 1953 – and we remain driven by quality and the desire to provide the best customer satisfaction.
We like to think our Morris symbolises the values that drive the business and we look forward to welcoming her back on her wheels and to her proud parking space soon!
You may well remember the competition that we ran at the turn of the year in which we asked the public to suggest names for the horse-drawn riding carriage for wheelchair disabled riders that we specially commissioned for Park Lane Stables. The competition resulted in the adoption of an excellent name – Harriet the Chariot – and one very happy, prize winning contestant!
Before embossing the name onto the carriage the Park Lane Stables team ran extensive field trials to ensure it was fit for use. In doing so, it became apparent that a few modifications were required – a task that our very own partner Peter Laney conducted himself! These included:
With these alterations made, Harriet’s name will soon be applied and she will be ready to go.
It seems then that whilst Peter usually has his head down in the books running the business, he has by no means lost the engineer’s touch!
Pictured: Harriet the Chariot stopping by H&L – probably for the last time until her annual repaint later this year.
…well H&L didn’t quite make our hero famous but we did play a unique role in immortalising the iconic image of Steve McQueen atop a Triumph motorcycle!
Following McQueen’s success in The Great Escape, 1963, He joined the American motorcycle team ahead of the 1964 International Six Day Trial held in East Germany (yes, I do mean East!).
McQueen and his gang first stopped off in England to pick up the-then top of the line Triumphs available from the Triumph factory in Meriden. After applying some off-road modifications in the Comerfords workshop in Thames Ditton, the team was set to leave the UK in time for the ISDT. That was, until disaster struck and the team’s initial transport arrangements for the bikes fell through.
With the race fast approaching and expected delays in crossing the border into East Germany, the team was under pressure. In what must have been a nervy few days for team manager Ted Wassel, a deal was eventually struck to secure a last minute transportation van to East Germany – with none other than H&L Motors!
The team experienced mixed results in the Trial itself, with three of the American team receiving silverware whilst McQueen himself unfortunately received a DNF after an untimely crash on the fourth day. Despite the lack of success, it was during this tour that McQueen’s love affair with Triumph motorcycles was kindled, and in which some of the most iconic images of the pair would be taken. Pictured: Steve McQueen with the very Triumph no. 278 that H&L helped him to transport to East Germany – note the British registration plate!
So whilst we may not be the reason for Steve McQueen’s fame and fortune, this certainly shows that our workshop has played a role in international history – however modest that role was!
Brilliant News! The horse-drawn riding carriage specially designed for wheelchair disabled riders has been delivered safe and sound; and what a beauty she is!
Big shout out to the members of the H&L team in conjunction with Fenix Carriages for making this possible. Special thanks must also go to Mark Broadbent, pictured, for his expertise and the labour of love he has put into the project.
We still need to apply a couple of finishing touches, but be sure to watch this space for updates on when we hope to deliver the carriage to Park Lane Stables, as well as a competition we will be running later this month to ask our readers to help name her!
And just to stop you worrying about it, Park Lane Stables will be supplying a horse to pull the carriage, Mark from Fenix is freed to do what he is so much better at, building them rather than pulling them.
Thanks Mark – great job well done!
We just had to bring you this piece of behind-the-scenes goings on at H&L HQ in deepest darkest Twickenham.
The two protagonists, we won’t identify them, but let’s just call them Peter and Andrew had as close to a falling out as you can get over a small and very missing angle grinder disk key.
Peter vigorously maintained that the tool came with a key to change the disk. Andrew said it didn’t. You can imagine the debate going backwards and forwards but with no resolution and definitely no key.
So Peter eventually gives up and purchases a new angle grinder with, lo and behold, a key.
Andrew has a look in his tool box to see if he has something similar ……………………. and the rest is history folks!!
We might be rightly famous for the high quality work we do on repairing and re-spraying damaged cars but we have been known to extend out talents a bit further.
Here’s a good example. We’ve recently completed the painting of this interesting line of objects ….. but what exactly are they?
You’d never guess – and nobody has so far – they’re actually mounting posts for CCTV cameras.
A well known high street brand turned to H&L Motors’ expertise to paint these items up in corporate colours for a brand new store opening.
Now, of course, we can’t tell you who our customer was nor show you the finished colour scheme because that would be a bit of a giveaway wouldn’t it; but here’s a little hint.
If you wander up and down the length of the world famous Oxford Street you just might spot a bit of classic H&L handiwork.
H&L Motors has for a long time enjoyed a very special working relationship with Volkswagen Group.
Providing high quality bodywork repair services to a large number of Volkswagen dealers in the South London area, here at H&L we are proud to have for many years delivered to the exacting standards that Volkswagen rightly demand from their bodywork repairers.
Now to confirm the strength of that tie, Jonathon Laney, partner at H&L Motors has been appointed to co-chairman of the Volkswagen Paint and Body Business Development Group. The Paint & body BDG is a Think Tank and a platform in which to discuss new ideas with the view to promote the high standards of excellence targeted by Volkswagen Group in the UK. Working on the Group with senior industry professionals, Jonathon is looking forward to having a major impact on maintaining the high technical and customer service standards for which Volkswagen group and, of course, H&L Motors itself are rightly renowned.
…….. talking again, as we were a couple of posts ago, of electric vehicles – H&L is trialling a new electric motor van. Here it is.
You can’t really tell the difference can you? although it drives quite differently; very smooth. Will do 160 miles between charges and can be charged direct from mains electricity; so all our drivers have to remember is to charge it between trips!!
70 – 72 Wellington Road