To truly enjoy your job... - Hilton Smythe

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Buying a Business - Success Stories

To truly enjoy your job...

…you should pick something that you’re passionate about.

For Gerry Wheeler that is certainly true.

Read how he built a successful vintage wedding car business from an early purchase.

A fan of everything transport-related, Gerry built a successful vintage wedding cars business from an early purchase. Now, at the age of 85, it’s time for Gerry to hand over the keys to his collection of vintage cars and enjoy his retirement.

Married with three sons, Gerry had already set up a successful specialist transport business and was enjoying his spare time racing motorbikes. After forty years of relatively safe racing, his wife decided enough was enough and he was too old. Pride comes before a fall, so Gerry swallowed his and looked at other motor-related hobbies he could pursue. His wife suggested that if he bought a vintage car, she could follow him and partake in the events.

From hobby to business

Not wanting to turn down an opportunity to attend a car auction, he attended a specialist sale and saw a rather forlorn looking Cadillac on the end of a row and thought he could do it up. Unfortunately the car he purchased was too big for his wife and Gerry thought he would sell it on after he finished doing it up. Before he could, local girls and dads were asking him to use the car for weddings. Initially Gerry drove the car as a favour, but people insisted on paying and soon enough he was full up with bookings and the wedding business began.

He added: “I was worried about letting people down if the car broke down, so I bought another one. By the time I’d rebuilt both of them, I was hooked on it and that’s how I got into the wedding business.”

Vintage Wheels started 27 years ago and Gerry has not lost any of his enthusiasm and loves rebuilding them. He says: “We strip them right down, body off and from the ground up. From then on they don’t give us any trouble’. The other aspect is meeting people – a real mix of people. We’ve even done various film work. We have one car which is now referred to as the ‘Downton Abbey’ car which featured in three or four episodes. We also featured in several of the Poirot detective series.”

A business that delivers memories and emotions – tips to good service

With a business that is associated with people starting new chapters in their lives, clients can often be highly emotional. Gerry comments: “We’re focused on being there on time and being calm and patient. From there on, it’s a little bit out of our hands, for example if the bride uses her prerogative to be late for the church. That’s why we only use one car per wedding per day. To ensure there’s no rush or stress on the day for either party.”

We also make sure the cars have a number of adaptations including two fuel systems to avoid any problems during the journey. In the 27 years we’ve only had to change cars twice.

While the cars are highly cherished original they are not concourse. Gerry comments: “Cars are meant to be used and not kept hidden away polished to the nth degree and carried to shows. All our cars are originals and only four have had their engines replaced if needed.”

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