He admits there’s now less of a price difference between a specialist and a main dealer because the parts discount is less. “It used to be 35-40% 15 years ago, now it’s 10%.” But what you get with Woollatt is the application of 39 years’ worth of experience applied directly to your car, and a more personal service.
“These days I prefer restoration,” he says, an original Alpina six-pot M3-bodied E30 on the ramp. “People can see something for their money compared with spending £3000- 4000 on an M5 V10 with problems.”
Kevin Brackley is Jaguar specialist Chiltern of Bovingdon’s aftersales director. Chiltern has sold, serviced and repaired used Jags for years, and Brackley has acquired a vast knowledge.
“From around 2006, it’s very difficult to use second-hand electrical parts on Jaguars because they are particular to the car,” he says. “When you programme a new module into the car it will lock to the VIN number.”
That eliminates the possibility of using a second-hand part (although there are some people who can wipe the memory). The car’s mileage is also stored in every part, and a generalist garage he knows of used a second-hand module “causing 40,000 miles to be instantly added to the car’s odometer”. For these reasons Chiltern only uses new parts, and its technicians attend official training courses.
It has been doing this since the new Block Exemption Regulation ended the manufacturer and franchised dealer monopoly of specialist diagnostic equipment. “There’s little you can do without the equipment,” says Brackley. So, like the other specialists featured here, Chiltern subscribes to a manufacturer technical website. Jaguar’s costs around £1500. “You pay around £500 annually for updates,” says Brackley. “A lot of things are cured now by programming.” An example is the poor shift quality between first and second gears on the 2004 XK, which was sorted with new software.
And your specialist subject is...
For almost every car with a following, there will some kind of specialist, be it one man and a car lift or a well-staffed multi-bay garage — and they’re not limited to high-end machines. Dorset-based KTR started as a tuning company but now sells, services and repairs Renault Sport models, claiming to be the UK’s leading specialist. It has diagnostic equipment, factory-trained technicians and a rolling road. It also sells used RS cars.
RS Méganes are good for big mileages, although sometimes with minor issues. One is knocking or creaking front suspension, which Derby’s Aaron Autos can rebuild for £175 per side inclusive, comparedwith more than £1000 for a Renault dealer’s hub unit change.