Rover SD1 - Wood & Picked
Although Wood & Pickett was formed in 1947, the original two partners, Bill Wood and Les Pickett had known each other for some time. They had met as apprentices at Hoopers, the Rolls Royce coach builders, in the late 1930's and had returned after the war in 1947.
However, a serious strike at Hoopers within a year caused the pair to team up and look for work on a one-off assignment basis. This proved successful, and they accepted an offer of premises at Becketts Yard, Willesden from Mr Ward of the Park Ward Coach builders in return for a nominal rent and priority on his work. The 700 sq. ft. workshop was ideal and it wasn't long before they were hiring apprentices to help them with t hei r first major order. converting three large ambulances on Daimler limousine chassis into luxury display models for the Motor Show.
Their reputation grew and they began contract work for Harold Radford's company from Hammersmith, particularly for work on the Countrymen conversions giving a new and original look with a luxury interior to the station wagon. A major breakthrough came when Fiat commissioned the Company to trim their vehicles in both leather and PVC, and make other alterations to the cars to meet the market demand. Previously, Fiat had been using rubber flooring.
Work then followed on the Simca 'Aronda' and a Montelaric' models which were imported in an untrimmed state. A total of 250 vehicles passed through the workshop in a 6 - 9 month period. The contract continued until the takeover of Simca by Chrysler Corporation.
A major disaster then befell the Company on 22nd February 1961. After the workshop had closed that evening fire swept through the building completely burning it to the ground, and destroying two cars which were inside, together with all the equipment, tools and records. It was believed to have been caused by an electrical fault on a Daimler which had been brought in that afternoon. Temporary accommodation was found through J.R.Thursfield
& Co. who had a forge, and they took workshop premises and a store. Nine months later the Company moved into 1000 sq.ft. premises at the Hong Kong Works, Wembley, while awaiting a move to their rebuilt premises.
In 1965, Albert Cole joined the Company from Harold Radfords, and eventually became a partner in the business with his main functions including overall charge of the trimming and bodywork sections. Two notable achievements by the Company, at this time, were the first installation of an electric window in the Jensen and the development of a folding rear seat to accommodate additional luggage, heralding a new era in estate cars.
This was shartly followed by the Mini-Moke craze - the protocype of the hood and side screens both drawn up al Wood & Picketts , Financial backing for this project was offered by Chapman Wheelers, an association which was to last some ten years. In December 1965, the Company moved into premises at Park Royal and embarked on one of their most exciting projects - the building of four racing Ford GT40s. No fewer than 25 road-going versions followed. A newcomer in the Management line-up appeared at this time, Eddie Collins, who joined the Company as a Sales Executive, and was shortly to take over as Managing Director of the Company. Wood & Pickett adapted a whole number of vehicles for Royalty to luxury Rolls Royce’s and Bentleys, but oddly enough the car that brought them most fame and acclaim was undoubtedly the Mini.
An agent of the Boulting Brothers approached the Company to ask if they would build a luxury Mini for the actress Hayley Mills. The conversion was totally unique and cost in those days about 1000 UK Pound Sterling. News spread fast and it was only a matter of days before Laurance Harvey was visiting the workshop to order luxury Mini no. 2. The die was cast, and at least one Mini was produced by Wood & Pickett over the next eight years.
The success of the Mini was due to the fact it represented a “classless car” and every Mini to leave the factory differed from the one preceding it.
In 1976 the Mini era had quietened down, but certainly not died. Emphasis now went on to the Range Rover.
The range of body options include:
1. A 4 door car with 110" wheel base, providing more comfort for rear passengers than the current vehicle presently being offered by Leyland through Monte Verde.
2. A Multi-role Range Rover designed specifically for Police/Military/Hunting purposes in the Middle East.
3. A 4 door Range Rover with an extended rear body and 6 wheels to provide extra load-carrying capacity for special purposes.
4. A power-operated 2 door and 4 door Convertible Range Rover for prestige and ceremonial purposes. Bullet resistant models to special order.
5. The most extensive range of exterior and interior options and colour schemes available on any motor car in the world today.
October 1980 saw the launch of a special Range Rover at the Paris Show together with the
first appearance of the company's Rover Prestige based on the SD1 model.
October 1980 also sees the company's first participation in the Motor Show in the U.K. where, apart from the cars mentioned, it will a1so launch a luxury version of a new car, details of which will be released on Press Day.
Despite the general economic recession 1980 has continued to see the expansion of the programme and the building up of the Labour force in order to cope with world-wide markets and the company's growing reputation for providing discerning clients with the best of British craftsmanship.