Ailing classic car dealer, restorer JD Classics finds buyer

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Woodham Mortimer Chairman and CEO Jean-Marc Gales stands in the former showroom of JD Classics. The British classic dealer and restorer was sold to Woodham Mortimer after entering administration last week. | Woodham Mortimer photo
Woodham Mortimer Chairman and CEO Jean-Marc Gales stands in the former showroom of JD Classics. The British classic dealer and restorer was sold to Woodham Mortimer after entering administration last week. | Woodham Mortimer photo

That was a short-lived scare: After entering administration — similar to bankruptcy protection in the United States — last week, British classic car dealer and restorer JD Classics already has a new owner and a new name.

The business was acquired this week by the Woodham Mortimer Ltd., a special company created to take over operations. The parent company is HPS Investment Partners LLC.

“Despite the difficulties of the recent past, JD Classics remains a world-class organization with a workforce of dedicated and highly talented individuals,” Jean-Marc Gales, the chairman and CEO of Woodham Mortimer, said in a news release. “We will continue to grow and develop the business, and we look forward to a future at the absolute pinnacle of classic car restoration, historic competition and trading.”

Administrator Alvarez & Marsal Europe oversaw the process.

The sale included JD Classics’ workshop, restoration business and racing team. All 60 employees at the company’s Maldon headquarters were expected to keep their jobs.

“This deal will ensure that the JD Classics business can continue to grow and prosper as a world-class business,” Mark Frimin, joint administrator and managing director of Alvarez & Marsal, told AM Online.

The outlet reported that JD Classics hit hard financial times after former owner Derek Hood was sued by a collector who claimed to have “suffered catastrophic losses” and alleged Hood invented buyers and sellers.

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For example, The Telegraph reported the collector, Mike Tuke, paid £254,000 for an AC Aceca Bristol Competition that he believed was owned by a third party working with JD Classics. He claimed the car was actually owned by the dealership instead and the business had bought it for £84,000 weeks earlier.

Both Hood and JD Classics denied wrongdoing and Hood said he never agreed to act as a sales agent for Tuke.

Hood was replaced by Gales in June, who identified cost-saving areas and growth opportunities for JD Classics.

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Carter Nacke is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He began his career at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix, the largest news radio station in Arizona, where he specialized in breaking news and politics. A burgeoning interest in classic cars took him to the Journal in 2018. He's still on the hunt for his dad's old 1969 Camaro.

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