American Car News Company News ShipMyCar History

Chapter 4 – Global Recession

“While the UK is on lockdown from Coronavirus measures, I thought I would take a look back through the history of our company. I hope all of our clients, staff, friends and families are well and stay safe during these difficult times”

NIck Roach – Company Director

Chapter Four – Global Recession and Selling Cars

Our Cervinis builds were popular, not only could we now build and sell full Cervinis cars here in the UK we could also create hybrid Mustangs with the Cervinis look but with Roush Performance upgrades.

We took our selection of Cervinis vehicles to all the big motoring shows and from this extra media visibility we started to become one of the trusted American car importers here in the UK.

While exhibiting at one of the annual shows at Earl’s Court, we were spotted again by the team at Top Gear, this time for Top Gear Live. After some brief discussions we lent them one of our cars to use in the live show.

The C-300 Cervinis was the one with all the bodykit, suspension, wheels and exhaust but on a standard engine performance build. Shame at the time we did not have a spare IMV800 that they could have put in the show, still the shots we obtained and the publicity helped to grow our brand.

At this point we were busy, we were constantly having cars collected from port, driving them across to London where we used to have them modified for the SVA test, getting the train back, answering emails, valeting cars, driving to London, getting the train back, developing the website, and on and on.

We needed to bring services in-house, we employed a valeter, an auto electrician and started taking cars more locally to Leighton Buzzard test station. It worked well, the modifications to each car could be watched over by us much more closely – ideas we had for lighting systems could be made into reality.

A permanent demo car was purchased and full Roush kit fitted. This car had a very brief appearance on Pimp My Ride UK.

We purchased our own transporter, this would allow us much greater flexibility and efficiency to collect cars from the port. One problem, due to the weight of the cars we carry, we needed a HGV, which meant we needed an operator’s license and somebody to drive it.

I had always fancied being a truck driver, so took myself down to a HGV training centre and spent the next couple of weeks taking extensive HGV lessons in a huge ‘proper’ lorry, all to enable us to drive a Citroen Relay, much to the amusement of my HGV instructor.

Kingsley went back to school to pass the necessary exams so that we could obtain our operator’s license.

Licenses obtained and we hit the road.

We still have the Citroen to this day

Moving cars around ourselves made life easier. We knew exactly when they would be with us, and we could deliver vehicles personally to clients.

Becoming a HGV operator should be one of those happy times in your life, sadly in 2008 there was a situation developing that may put the brakes on our ability to sell imported cars. The following graph gives a good clue:

The credit crunch. Now let this be a lesson to anybody starting out / experiencing a nice growth curve with your business. One day, the revenue stream can just stop. Not just start to slow with some slim hope of recovery, but literally just stop. Like a tap being turned off, but instead of water was the ability for our clients to find finance to purchase a Mustang / Corvette / any vehicle we were trying to sell.

It really was that sudden.

We were faced with a good few months of payments for contracted advertisements in magazines / online popular car purchasing sites with our main source of income gone in a flash.

In order to survive we stopped paying ourselves, the staff and rent had to come first in order to keep going. We branded the transporter ‘TransportMyCar’, got a website going, and won a few contracts with local car dealers to move their stock.

This helped, we could be on the road before the sun came up, deliver some cars to pay the bills and get back to the office to work on the promising ShipMyCar site.

They were long, hard days, with all that time cooped up in the truck it was hard not to get frustrated that we were so close to making it, but it was a great time to think up new ideas, eat McDonald’s breakfasts and consume coffee.

ImportMyVehicle had slowed to the point where we could do no more with it, we gave it a shiny new logo but focused all of our attention on ShipMyCar

Still feel nostalgic about the superior quality of this design work.

Was it going to be enough to keep the ship afloat? Keep reading, Chapter Five – Growing Up