The specialist: Copthorne Classics

| 16 Sep 2022
Classic & Sports Car - The specialist: Copthorne Classics

You can trace the origins of West Sussex-based Copthorne Classics some way beyond when the firm was founded in 2016.

This story begins with a five-year-old boy, gleefully staring at his father’s newly acquired DB6 in 1997 – and follows a family journey through a series of classic Aston Martins.

That boy was called Lee Davies – and, thanks to a namesake tradition spanning three generations, so is his father.

Together they have created a British-car specialist founded in family values and focused on Aston and Jaguar.

Classic & Sports Car - The specialist: Copthorne Classics

Jaguars are a common sight in the Copthorne workshop, here Lee Davies Snr prepares an E-type’s inline-six

It was inevitable. By the time Davies Jnr left school, only one career was on his mind.

He joined a Rolls-Royce and Bentley workshop as an apprentice, and began learning the trade that supported the family’s interest.

After a year he moved to an Aston specialist, and finally worked under the wing of a former Jaguar engineer, learning all he could before his retirement.

Classic & Sports Car - The specialist: Copthorne Classics

Head engineer, Lee Davies Jnr, reassembles a six-cylinder XK engine

Davies Snr was supportive of his son’s choices from the moment he first picked up a spanner.

“I could see the value in his apprenticeships,” he says, proudly, “and during that time plans were hatched to start our own family business.”

This father-and-son team share a passion for – and deep knowledge of – cars in the traditional mould.

Classic & Sports Car - The specialist: Copthorne Classics

Davies Jnr strips an Aston Martin’s straight-six prior to a rebuild

The business is shaped on experience of both sides of the counter: son as an engineer, and father as a lifelong customer.

“Since establishing our workshop in early 2017, we’ve worked hard to balance a premium customer experience with a family feel,” says Davies Snr, “and to specialise in cars that fuel our interest.”

You feel it as you walk in the door. Pass through reception and you’ll step into a preparation area, with long-term projects nearing completion: an Alvis 3 Litre coupé and a Daimler Sovereign S2.

Classic & Sports Car - The specialist: Copthorne Classics

The Copthorne Classics portfolio of projects stretches beyond just Jaguars and Aston Martins

One door leads to an immaculate engine room with Jaguar XKs and V12s mid-assembly, while another takes you to the main workshop that forms the heart of the operation.

Here there’s a representative spread of vehicles – from those visiting briefly for light servicing to more involved restorations and engine surgery. The business thrives on repeat visits and word-of-mouth recommendation.

“Alongside classic and modern-classic Astons, we do our fair share of E-types and Mk2s,” says Davies Jnr, “but we’ve found demand for later-generation cars with carefully selected upgrades for performance and drivability.”

Classic & Sports Car - The specialist: Copthorne Classics

Among other tweaks, fettling with the SUs can help to bring near-V12 levels of power to the 4.2-litre Daimler ‘six’ engine

Here he means XJs and XJ-Ss, often true to their period rather than outright restomods.

The Daimler we saw earlier is a perfect example: it’s a full rebuild, but with a manual ’box, triple SUs and a host of tweaks to help its 4.2-litre ‘six’ achieve near-V12 levels of power.

An XJC is being dismantled for the same treatment – simply because its owner had seen the work in progress on the first car.

Classic & Sports Car - The specialist: Copthorne Classics
Classic & Sports Car - The specialist: Copthorne Classics

Crankshaft (left) and pistons (right) are prepared, ready for an engine rebuild

“The XJ is a prototype for a package of upgrades we plan to launch later this year,” says Davies Jnr.

“The S1 and S2 are more usable than Mk2s, and they respond well to tuning – plus everything we do is sympathetic to the original car.”

Davies also has plans for Series 3s, and has secured an XJ-S prototype for late summer, too.

Classic & Sports Car - The specialist: Copthorne Classics

Classic Jaguars and Aston Martins are at the core of this family firm

Although there’s a focus on the cars of Newport Pagnell and Coventry, the portfolio extends to other British marques.

A scroll through the busy Instagram feed reveals work on everything from AC to MG – and a fair few Lotus models in between. It’s the mixture of a traditional work ethic with a progressive vision that’s interesting.

The firm can be relied on for the usual services, but because every turn of a spanner is carried out by a father-and-son team, it brings a cross-generational experience – not only to the eras of British classic cars they work on, but also to the ideas they bring to life.

Images: Will Williams

The knowledge

  • Name Copthorne Classics
  • Address Unit 10, Barns Court, Turners Hill Road, Copthorne, West Sussex RH10 4HQ
  • Specialism Aston Martin, Jaguar and British classics
  • Staff Three
  • Prices £95 per hour (with discounts for project work)
  • Tel 01342 712600
  • Web
  • Email


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