The converters : Wood & Pickett
Having served their apprenticeship with Britain’s finest coachbuilding company, Messrs Wood and Pickett were well-placed to cater to the demanding customers who ordered cars from them decades later…
A potted history
IN 1947, Bill Wood and Les Pickett left their jobs at London’s top-notch coachbuilders Hooper to start their own bodyshop nearby in the same Park Royal area of London, which was then home to most of London’s coachbuilding industry. It wasn’t until the 1960s, however, that the company was established as Wood & Pickett Ltd, and became well-known within the general motoring community as a result of their decision to specialise in meeting the increasing demand for highly-luxurious Minis that had sprung up in the wake of Radford‘s 1963 Mini de Ville.
Wood and Pickett developed their own uprated Mini model, known as the Margrave, featuring a distinctive leather & walnut fascia panel, leather or Dralon seating and front and rear nudge bars, to which customers were invited to add from a long list of individually-priced options. Radford adopted a similar approach in 1965 when they launched their Mini de Ville GT, but by then Wood & Pickett were providing tough competition, and the following year they managed to bag Radford’s managing director, Len Minshull, and head of marketing, Eddie Collins, along with some of the company’s most valued customers. The late Sixties saw Radford in decline while Wood & Pickett were going from strength to strength, and it was to the latter company that Harold Radford himself turned in 1967 when he wanted his Triumph 1300 upgraded.
Under Collins’ leadership as managing director, the Mini remained the main focus of Wood & Pickett’s attention throughout the 1970s, although as the decade progressed they also became well known for their many Range Rover-based models and would later assist BL in creating the influential “In Vogue” special edition. Alongside this regular work, the company continued to take on one-off and low-volume commissions. Towards the end of the Seventies, the company moved to move to larger premises in Victoria Road, South Ruislip, and in 1980 they added the upmarket Rover SD1 Prestige to their repertoire.
1980 also saw the launch of the Metro, of course, and Wood & Pickett wasted little time in devising two uprated versions, known as the Metro Plus and the Laser. The following year (during which Messrs Wood & Pickett left the company) saw the completion of the one-off TR7-based TRZ for a competition being run by the Sheaffer pen company, and during the mid-Eighties they also produced and marketed interior upgrade packages for the Montego. In 1986 the company was purchased by Henlys, one of BL’s major franchised dealership chains, and relocated to St Albans in Hertfordshire. Under Henlys’ ownership, greater emphasis was placed on the highly-profitable Range Rover conversions, with many commissions being taken from Middle Eastern customers in particular, until Henlys sold the company to entrepreneur Mike Bush in 1989.
Operating from new premises at Epsom – and later Leatherhead – in Surrey, Wood and Pickett continued to undertake bespoke covnersions during the 1990s, and also established a Parts and Accessories division which was initally operated under franchise by Moss International. Later that decade, the company was acquired by current MD Mike Standring, and is now based at Horsham in West Sussex. Today, Wood & Pickett’s business has come full circle, offering a wide range of after-market accessories for the Mini, along with a bespoke coachwork service for more demanding customers. Recent ventures include the supply of accessories for the Ford Ka, while the MINI has been added to the list of cars catered for.
Wood & Pickett’s Park Royal premises during the mid-1970s. Apart from the Minis, the cars include a Range Rover with twin-headlamp conversion and an MGB.
|Although initially launched to compete with Radford’s pioneering Mini de Ville, Wood & Pickett’s Margrave coversions would prove to have more staying power…Enter…|
|Around the same time that BL introduced their flagship Vanden Plas version of the Rover SD1, Wood & Pickett brought out their own idea of how such a car should be. However, Rover Prestige offered levels of equipment that would never be available on a factory-fresh SD1, as well as a useful boost in performance…Enter…|
|When the Metro was launched as the Mini for the Eighties, it was almost inevitable that it would come in for similar treatment from Wood & Pickett…Enter…|
The Sheaffer TRZ
|Offered as a competition prize in 1981, the one-off TRZ featured some interesting interior modifications, courtesy of Wood & Pickett…Enter…|