Growing up in the South of England in the sixties was a great time and place to indulge a growing interest in anything that moved under its own power. As a young boy when not playing football with his mates he could be found building one of many go-carts, always looking for ways to propel them other than foot power. When a brand new high school opened offering a course in Automotive Engineering Jeff knew this is where he needed to be. Despite advice against it, from concerned family and friends as the end of his school years approached, Jeff was determined to seek a career as an automotive technician. An apprenticeship agreement was signed with the British government and a three year training course was taken on. Along with the day to day training working alongside the technicians in his workshop he was also expected to attend college one day a week to further hone theory and academic skills. The diplomas earned are on proud display today in the reception area at British European Auto. The type of work that was routinely carried out at his workshop was very different from that of the other apprentices at college, who were mostly from local new car dealerships. The practice of rebuilding engines, axles, dynamo’s etc. had for the most been replaced by the installation of “rebuilt exchange units”. However the civil service approach was still to repair everything from automatic gearboxes to Zenith carburetors in house. This process turned out to be an invaluable experience that he constantly draws on today. Another high point of Jeff’s training was when he was chosen as the citywide “apprentice of the year,” picked not just from the automotive trainees but from all trades taught within the college.
After passing out of his time he transferred to a workshop a few miles outside of London to help take on some administrative duties as workshop foreman. After a couple of years the chance to fulfill a deep desire to work on prototype and experimental engines arose in the form of a job with Ford of Europe. Reluctantly his resignation was handed in and a new job at Ford Engineering Test Facility at Dunton was undertaken. Working at Ford during this time was very interesting; dyno testing development engines was a very exacting science, with most work relating to emission control and fuel economy.
Four years later after a vacation in Los Angeles everything in jolly old England seemed to fade a little when compared to the palm trees and beaches of Southern California. After much thought he decided it would be a good time to move to America. Although only planning to stay a year or so looking around, plans changed with the meeting of fellow technician and future partner Bernie Sloan. Having arrived in March 1980 Jeff was surprised by the amount of British cars on the road. Also looking at the repair facilities operating at the time realized the need for a good quality shop in the South bay area. After a very short time the decision was made in August 1980 to start British European Auto.