Talking Classics With Simon Bennett

Picture of By Rob Harvey
By Rob Harvey

Marketing Manager - Bridge Classic Cars

Simon Bennett has been a huge car enthusiast from a very young age. He is now the founder and CEO of Vint-tro. He also has an E-type with a very interesting story too!

We were fortunate enough to sit down and have a conversation with Simon about his business, his love of cars, and the history of his E-type.

For those who don’t know, what is Vint-tro?  

Vint-tro is a lifestyle brand for car enthusiasts.

Where does your love of cars originate from?

As a very little boy, my father was always tinkering around with his Ford Cortina MK2 1600E and I was always by his side watching him apply all that P38 body filler! In 1975 my father left home and 3 years later my mother met an incredible American guy called Charles. Charles was a US fighter pilot stationed here in Bentwaters, Suffolk. I’ll never forget the very first time he came round to visit mum and I in his 1973 purple Triumph TR6. I was absolutely mesmerised by that car. Charles was a major influence on my love of cars, he took me and mum everywhere until the day came when he had to go back to the US. He asked mum to marry him and take us both to California, she unfortunately declined and wouldn’t leave the UK. That is where my love of cars comes from.

When did you discover classic cars?

It was around 1987, I passed my driving test when I was just 17, my first car was a Cortina, but just 4 months later I started to get involved in Ford Escorts. Being an apprentice panel beater at the time I started doing up RS2000s and Mexico’s and my love of classic cars really started from there.

Your Jaguar E-type comes with an incredible story. For those who haven’t heard it, can you tell us what happened?

Sure, I built a Le Mans tribute E-type racer but unfortunately I had a terrible fire at my home and lost the car in the fire. Then in August 2015 I was at Helmingham Hall sports and classic festival and this guy came up to me and said you’re the chap who had the fire and lost your E type (it was in the local press), I said yes that was me. He said “are you going to build another one?” I replied of course when I could find the right car.

This guy then said he knows a chap in Surrey who has a 1961 Series 1 flat floor for sale as a restoration project. The car was believed to be a very early hand-built car, one of the first 200 E types, and it was left under a tree for over 30-35 years. At first I didn’t believe him but I said give me his number and I’ll make contact which he kindly did.

Anyway, about two weeks later I called this guy called Edward Eggers and he confirmed he was dealing with an estate of the man who had just died and was clearing the house before putting it up for sale and the E type was sitting under a tree. I said would you mind sending me photos of the chassis plate, engine number, body tag and H frame number. He did this and the car turned out to be 860123, a genuine factory-built RHD E type.

After I explored the numbers, I then got confirmation from Jaguar Heritage that this was a full matching number car and a certificate was issued. As I was trying to get a deal over the line I found out I was not the only person Edward Eggers was talking to, and I found myself up against a very well-known Jaguar restoration company and the money started to get a bit ridiculous.

To cut a long story short I paid £42,000 for the car and as you can see below, you could pretty much sweep it up and put it in a bucket but, to my delight and my wife’s very surprised eyes I got the car and started the restoration project.

I then started to research the car’s history and then this bought up a very interesting story. The car was never registered for the road. It was purchased by two UK Criminals called Sidney Miller & John Bellord, who immediately stripped the car and raced it as part of their race team. The full story can be heard here.

What’s the current state of your E-type? Is there any more work planned?

It’s now 85% complete, just the Interior re-trim to go. It will be completely finished by March 2023

How do you see the automotive industry changing in the future? 

I believe driverless cars are coming sooner than we think, I’m sure we’ll be ordering a google bubble (taxi) from an app within 15-20 years. This bubble will take you to your destination completely driverless and charged to your google account. I believe it will be a major part of our transport infrastructure in the future. This will also have a major impact on insurers as I have already seen Volvo has said once they have a driverless vehicle they will take all the liability when this time comes. Interesting times for sure. 

Do you think there is a place for classic cars in your predicted future?

Yes, absolutely! Classic cars are heritage, but heritage is not just cars but houses, fashion, trains, and planes where these are all a form of creative engineering and design. Our education for the future has to be taught by understanding and learning from the past, and although I recognise that classic cars are not considered environmentally friendly, it’s important to understand history, which will always be studied and enjoyed by millions of people worldwide and classic cars are no exception to this.

Vint-tro has built a large community of car enthusiasts. Why did you feel this was important to do?

It’s very important because our community is at the heart of our business strategy. Without our community, we will not be able to support them, our business partners and enjoy the things we want to do in the future.

What’s next for Vint-tro?

To continue to build the brand and keep focused on our business strategy. We have just one more service addition to add to our already service lines, this new project is underway and we’re hoping for release in May 2023. This development is a major integral part of our insurance scheme, Vint-tro Cover. 

How can people find out more about Vint-tro and your E-type?

Please see our website  We are also on all the socials. Instagram – @vint_tro Twitter – @Vint_tro Facebook – Vint-tro Community and LinkedIn

Enjoyed Talking Classics With Simon Bennett?

Take a look at the entire Talking Classics series for more interviews with other influential people.

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