Forget football stadiums and fancy dinner parties, we want to see Carlsberg do a car boot sale, because if it did, it would likely look something like Stumpy’s Toy Town and yes, it would probably be the best in the world.
Why? Because Stumpy has one of the finest collection of retro American cars and star spangled paraphernalia we have ever laid eyes on.
“I probably shouldn’t have printed the words paraphernalia on my business cards,” Stumpy explains as Flat-Out gets a tour of his establishment.
“They only really use the word when associated with drugs in the States and now a lot of my contacts out there think I also sell bongs and stuff,” he adds as we talk over a brew.
The obsession with all things American started around 12 years ago when Stumpy first purchased Betty, his prized 1950 Ford F1. A vehicle that he claims hasn’t missed a beat in that time, has ferried the contents of a demolished house to the tip and has never been washed.
“Bicycles lead to old motorbikes and they transformed into pick-up trucks, hot rods and classic American cars”
“You know you’ll never sell a car when it becomes part of you,” Stumpy explains as he reveals a giant tattoo on his back that features Betty and his beloved hot rod.
Since then, the business has grown exponentially, chiefly via word of mouth, with an estimated 300 vehicles finding new homes with customers all over the UK and even Europe last year.
“I just needed something to take my mind off stuff,” explains Stumpy. “A friend and I started making these custom bicycles in a shed and it just grew from there. I had some connections in the States and I went over and bought a load of old Schwinn bikes to do up and sell as part of the project,” he says.
“It sort of spiralled from there. Bicycles lead old motorbikes and they transformed into pick-up trucks, hot rods and classic American cars,” he adds.
A closer inspection of the site reveals some incredibly rare gems amongst the many half finished pick-up projects and beautifully rusted old signs that adorn the walls.
“To the right of that sits a Nash Airflyte, complete with thick layers of dust and a bullet hole that scars the windshield”
There is a stunning 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang sitting underneath a dustsheet – a vehicle that features Ford’s rare 260 V8 engine, which was only built for two years before it was superseded by the more recognised 289 and 302 units.
To the right of that sits a Nash Airflyte, complete with thick layers of dust and a bullet hole that scars the windshield.
“Grazes in the paint are left, small dinks in the bumper remain and any small marks or chips are designed to serve as a reminder that the vehicle has lead a full life”
“Apparently, the owner was shot and killed in this car,” Stumpy explains as we walk around the long, sweeping retro-futuristic shape of this small slice of American history.
“I’ve taken out the interior cloth, because I thought nobody would want to touch it after they heard the story. But I’m leaving some of the battle scars, like the busted rear fender and some of the other dents. They are all part of this car’s past,” he says.
As a result, most of the cars in the warehouse remain mostly untouched, with just a few jobs completed to get them road worthy and through an MOT.
Grazes in the paint are left, small dinks in the bumper remain and any small marks or chips are designed to serve as a reminder that the vehicle has lead a full life.
Despite the current trend for vintage slammed pick-ups, heavily patinated hot rods and slightly ratty muscle cars, Stumpy says he tries to avoid custom builds where he can, instead opting to simply connect a buyer with a vehicle.
“We go out to the States almost every month now,” he explains. “I’ve got my own little patch that I work and I’ve made some good contacts out there. We get some really good quality stuff coming through the doors,” he adds.
“The obsession with all things American started around 12 years ago when Stumpy first purchased Betty, his prized 1950 Ford F1”
The business has attracted the attention of television directors and producers, who often come knocking when they need vehicles of a certain era to appear in films and TV shows.
“Henry Cole is a good friend and often comes down here,” Stumpy explains. “We’ve provided various props and projects for his shows. It’s just another part of the business and we’re usually happy to help”.
Only open by appointment in the week (and to the public on Saturdays), Stumpy’s feels like a proper hidden gem on the UK’s south coast but it’s a must-see for anyone harbouring a nostalgic American dream.