The British Motor Trade Association (BMTA) will be visiting the heart of North American motorsports – Charlotte, NC, March 2-4, 2017. The conference will be hosted by Dick and Beth Lunney of Classic MG Magazine, Lake Speed Jr. of Driven Racing Oil, and many other local shops will be assisting.
While some have predicted the demise of the classic British car industry in America, there are clear indicators that the industry is not only doing fine, but has many opportunities to thrive and even expand. The industry has grown from small importers in the post-war period to large distribution networks in the 1960s and 1970s. With the demise of many British brands in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the industry shrank and began a shift from factory-supported parts and repair businesses to independent businesses. This first step in the evolution from factories to independents has matured to a point where the next step naturally follows: An organized, interdependent effort by independent businesses in the British car trade to ensure the long-term viability of the industry.
This effort led to the formation of the British Motor Trade Association (BMTA) in March, 2003.
How big is the British Motor Trade in America? Because many British-based motor trade businesses are small, this market is widely misunderstood and greatly underestimated. It is often mistakenly considered insignificant.
However, research in the late 1980s indicated there were still 130,000 MGBs registered in the US. Add in other models of MGs, Triumphs, Austin Healey’s, Jaguars, and other marques and there are easily more than 200,000 British cars still on the road or under restoration. It is reasonable to expect an expenditure of $500-1000 per car per year, making the British Motor Trade a $100-200 Million industry.
Many of the businesses involved in the British Motor Trade are small, employing less than ten people. Because of these small sizes, these businesses have trouble finding the time or other resources to devote to the research, training and marketing that would help them expand or improve their business. Many have perfected several aspects of their business to provide top-quality products or services, only to find they have little time or no good venue to show potential customers their capabilities. For many years, these businesses have struggled in spite of their successes because they have not had a good network of resources to draw upon.
The BMTA is that network. It was formed to draw the three aspects of the business—the “Trade Triangle”—together to cooperatively promote and improve the British car ownership experience and therefore improve business.
For a list of BMTA members make sure to check out the British Motor Trade Association Member List, and support those who support the community.