25 Years of Parts, Service & Restoration
From Uncommon Vintage British Vehicles to Vintage British Aeroplanes, Kip Motor Company Continues to Evolve
Kip Motor Company announces their 25th year of authentic restoration services for antique British, European, and exotic Domestic vehicles. With humble beginnings in the home garage, Kip’s fledging restoration company (mostly Studebaker, Ford & Chevrolet) started providing service for his wife’s Nash Metropolitan (pictured above) that she used as her ‘company sales car’. Soon, other local owners requested service, restoration and parts for their Metropolitan.
As Kip Motor Company began to stock parts to supply the demand, the first Metropolitan Parts Listing was published in 1992 and the company went ‘mail order’. By December 1992, they moved out of the garage into a 4,000 sq ft building in a Dallas suburb to accommodate growth. By this time, Kip Motor had grown to three full time employees.
During this Metropolitan frenzy, many customers and their friends came to us asking if we could service and supply parts for their 'other' British vehicles. As all of the popular types (Austin-Healey, MG, Triumph, etc.) were already well serviced, these people were actually inquiring about what we now call 'orphans' or uncommon British vehicles (English Ford, London Taxi, Hillman, Morris, Singer etc). The first Orphan Book came out in 1994 and was an instant hit.
Restoration and service continued to grow as well as demand for uncommon parts. Kip attended the Beaulieu Autojumble and sourced parts from mom and pop spares suppliers throughout England; however, even in the early days there were many parts no longer available. Rebuilding and reconditioning parts became the norm for some components. When the first Metropolitan Catalog Mk 1 with exploded view drawings was published in 1995, parts sales really took off.
By October 1997, Kip Motor moved once again to a larger 10,000 square foot facility in Dallas. By now, Kip had collected many pattern cars creating a hands-on reference library. Many parts were now becoming difficult to source, so Kip and his five employees developed techniques to make high quality parts in very small production batches. The first metal casting was the popular “Metropolitan” fenderscript. From there, he and his craftsmen started employing old world techniques such as metal stamping to create additional new parts; hubcaps, grille surrounds and similar items. Next came plastic and rubber casting for reproduction of lenses, knobs, medallions, motor mounts and the many seals found on uncommon vehicles.
By 1998, many British car owners were experiencing ignition issues from the poor quality parts then available from China and elsewhere. This led Kip and Dave Spradling, R&D specialist, to develop the methodology to reproduce distributor caps and rotors for many British vehicles.
As capabilities grew, so did the parts and service offerings. New catalogs were published to address niche markets; The Berkeley Book Mk I (1999) and The London Taxi Book Mk I (2000). Kip Motor’s website was up and an inventory management system was finally integrated with the back office accounting system eliminating hand written orders. By Y2K, Kip Motor was prepared for the next decade of growth.
Into the 21st century, the company steadily grew. New catalogs were developed to cover additional niche markets; English Ford 100E and Hillman Phase Minx. Additional employees were added to customer service, marketing, production and restoration, and shopping cart functionality was added to the website. In 2004, KMC became the primary sponsor and event manager for the annual All British & European Car Day in Dallas, Texas. KMC staff also regularly assists with many tours, meets and trade conferences; the Metropolitan Owner’s Club of North America’s International Meet in 1993, AACA National Meets and tours in 1996, 2003 and 2004, and British Motor Trade Association conferences in 2005 & 2007.
The summer of 2006 brought a very challenging project to Kip Motor Company – the re-engineering of the distributor cap for the WWI era Liberty V12 aero engine. A very complex part with integral coil and other components, it had been out of production for nearly 90 years. Once again, Kip and Dave figured out the production methodology and within six weeks, had produced their first batch of Liberty caps and ignition components. Today, one can see examples of their efforts at the Rolls Royce Heritage Trust, the National Museum of the USAF, the National Museum of the USMC and in numerous other museums, flying aircraft, vintage boats and even tanks! [Re-inventing the Liberty Cap Article]
Based on KMC’s small batch capabilities, inquiries are regularly received for custom part production from car clubs, museums and vintage aeroplane owners. These inquiries resulted in many additional authentic reproductions such as distributor caps and rotors for Splitdorf Dixie 800 magnetos (2008), Delco 12 & 16 cylinder engines for automobiles and Packard aero engines (2010), Bosch HL8 magnetos (2012), British Thomson-Houston magnetos (2013-14, two different types for de Havilland Gipsy Six and Gipsy Queen engines), and most recently distributor caps for the Allison V12 air-cooled aircraft engines (2016). During this time, the KipAero division was created to focus on our expanding vintage aircraft products and services.
As part of our 25th Anniversary celebration, we announced the availability of authentic, full-size WWI Sopwith aeroplane kits at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. These Sopwith Strutter, Pup, Camel & Triplane kits use authentic materials and components based on the original factory specification and are geared towards the vintage aviation enthusiast.
Meanwhile, to ensure Kip Motor Company has the talent and skills necessary to provide authentic restorations and quality service, KMC hosts interns from McPherson College and other technical restoration schools. Joining the team as restoration manger in 2013, Randy Bush brings his experience with Ferrari and other exotic Italian vehicles. Today, Kip Motor employs twelve full time artisans who study automobiles, their history, culture, craftsmanship, marketing and manufacturing processes to thoroughly understand the vehicles entrusted to their care. This is what we call Carchaeology. By employing a combination of old world skills, our knowledge of period manufacturing processes, and cutting edge technology, we are able to ensure yesterday’s antique/collector vehicle can be restored, maintained and preserved for current and future generations to enjoy.
The future for Kip Motor Company?
Our reputation for accurate, authentic restorations of British, European and exotic Domestic vehicles is known throughout the industry. We remain committed to our customers and to the preservation and development of the skills and processes required to preserve transportation history.
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