As 2019 draws to a close the beginning of a new decade awaits us and at Stanford Coachworks we wanted to look back at what we’ve been up to. In the past 10 years our company has expanded massively and our hard-working team has grown to reach almost 50 individuals! We even launched a second company in 2012, Monaco by Stanford, dedicated to designing high-class bespoke luxury vehicles.
Let’s start at the beginning of the decade in 2010 when we converted our very first vehicle for Civilised Car Hire. Their Volkswagen Crafter tour bus was designed to replicate the Porsche 917 Gulf Le Mans race car with its sky blue exterior, orange racing stripe and race numbers. Since then we have converted 55 minibuses for them including production and splitter vans, mini coaches and luxury Pro-Monaco’s in an array of weird and wonderfully eye-catching colours. We even made one look like a flaming American hot rod! In 2019 we began updating their fleet which is set to be completed in the new decade.
2010 also saw the beginning of our long-standing relationship with a specialist London Hospital who we have supplied with another minibus this year.
2011 was the beginning of a new digital age for Stanford’s as we revealed our newly updated website and joined social media which a few of us are still struggling with!
2012 – The United Kingdom’s year! The London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee were amongst just a few standout moments for SCW. We united with the nation to show our patriotism and redesigned our vehicle stickers for the year to include the Union Jack. Continuing the theme at the 2012 Coach and Bus exhibition we had our British bus, converted for Burnt Tree, on display. The Mercedes minibus included Union Jack headlining and a patriotic colour scheme throughout. At the same exhibition we also launched our luxury brand, Monaco by Stanford, which was welcomed by our 5000th anniversary conversion appropriately named the ‘Monaco DBS’ which was designed to reflect the most British thing ever: James Bond’s Aston Martin.
A charity that we have worked closely with since we opened our doors in 1995 donated their 1000th disability minibus in August 2012. The Lord’s Taverners held a special event at Essex County Cricket Club’s home ground and donated the specially adapted Stanford’s minibus to the Edith Borthwick school in Braintree with a little help from Chris Cowdrey, former England cricket captain, and a few of his team mates.
An event that everyone grew to love had its grand opening in 2013 – the Stanford Coachworks Brands Hatch Expo. The thrilling event attracted many of our customers and suppliers who were given the opportunity to get kitted up and enjoy hot laps around the ex Grand Prix circuit in one of our race cars! The SCW team were joined by friends and family who volunteered to put on an excellent show that became so popular that it spanned over the next 3 years. We certainly enjoyed our hot laps!
In 2013 we also proudly gained our National Small Series Type Approval for Mercedes Sprinters which means that the procedure for converting and certifying a vehicle is not beholden to the IVA process. Vehicles can be fully converted and tested in house meaning that the build is more time efficient. It was great news for our customers as they got their vehicles much quicker!
Our first camper van conversion was another 2013 highlight. We decided to create our very own mini mobile home on a Volkswagen T5 that included a pop-up roof with a bed, a kitchen area with a sink and hob and a comfortable seating area with a detachable table. These types of conversions became popular and we even had the pleasure of designing 2 more in 2015 which doubled as fishing vans for footballers Mark Noble and Lee Bowyer.
We created something completely different from our usual accessible minibuses in 2014 – a bespoke Land Rover Defender renamed by us as the Adventurer. The Adventurer was jam packed with exciting features such as a Nespresso coffee station, a gas hob and sink, a fridge and a television with HDMI hook-up. 2014 was the year of the bespoke and luxury as we also converted a 16-seat Mercedes Sprinter Monaco coach.
Our 20th birthday celebration took place at our favourite local, The Bell Inn, in 2015. The sun came out for a fantastic day shared with our loyal customers, suppliers, colleagues, family and friends. Being our 20th year in business we knew that we had to do something special so we found ourselves a 1969 MK1 Ford Transit which we bought back to life again but of course with a modern Stanford’s twist! To keep the original retro feel in the Transit we installed a record player, a picnic hamper and we even had the exterior of the vehicle hand sign-written. Our Transit starred in some movies such as the Bank Job and The Lady in the Van!
2015 also proved to be an innovative year for our accessible minibuses as we created our SCW low entry double fold-out side step which has become an increasingly popular option on our conversions.
Following the success of Jess’ first London Marathon which raised over £15,000 for the Lord’s Taverners charity, he decided to complete yet another in 2016. With an incredible time of 3 hours and 42 minutes he smashed not only his previous PB by 38 minutes but also his donation target that reached almost £20,000!
Later in the year we headed to the Commercial Vehicle show where we exhibited Civilised’s first Pro-Monaco used for film and photography sets. The executive black vehicle with lime green accents features a mobile dressing area in the rear and a luxury cabin upholstered in grey and black suede in the front.
2017 was a successful year for our luxury brand Monaco by Stanford which took off following the launch of our new website and social media sites. We were also lucky enough to work with high-end luxury companies such as McLaren and HR Owen to convert brand-new Monaco Sprinters for them. We visited The Bell with a professional photographer to get some good shots of the Monaco Sprinters and our Monaco V-Class demonstrator all of which would later features in our brochures.
After our 20th birthday celebration, The Bell Inn seemed to be a favoured location with our customers for events so we decided to host our next expo there in the form of a Summer garden party. We bought along many of our various conversions to entertain our guests as well as a fantastic live band.
We had lots of fun raising money for charities in 2017 and we definitely got rather muddy during the Maldon Mud Run! Later in the year our team took part in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride which saw them dress in the finest clothing and ride their classic motorbikes and scooters through Southend on Sea in order to raise money for prostate cancer research and men’s mental health campaigns.
2018 was a busy year for us and in February we attended our first Classic Car Show at the Excel in London. We took our classic 1969 MK1 Ford Transit along with our Monaco V-Class and Monaco Sprinter that sold within the 40 minutes! Monaco by Stanford grew massively in 2018 and we even began exporting our vehicles internationally to Malaysia for one of our long-standing clients.
In July we proudly received accreditation from Ford as a qualified vehicle modifier. To obtain the status from Ford we were rigorously scrutinised to ensure that we met their high standards. We are now recognised by multiple manufacturers such as Renault, Peugeot, Citroen and Ford.
Towards the end of the year excitement arose for the much-awaited launch of the New Generation Mercedes Sprinter and after what seemed like an exceptionally long wait out first New Generation Sprinter arrived in January 2019.
This year has been an extremely long one and with the release of many new models it hasn’t been easy, however we are incredibly proud of our team and how hard they have worked. Our first Flat and Super Flat floor New Generation Sprinters were produced this year along with our first New Generation Monaco Sprinter.
At the beginning of the year we was approached by West Ham footballer Robert Snodgrass who wanted some upgrades on his V-Class. We installed a LED colour changing star light roof which gave his vehicle a new lease of life! One of our international clients saw the photos and decided that his new white V-Class needed one as well.
February was an exciting month as we were visited by a film crew from Influx Magazine. They were tasked with creating a short film about the minibus industry for Adrian Flux insurance who have recently introduced minibus policies for their customers. We had a great day showing Dave Vitty and Matt Ward around SCW plus they made us a fantastic movie!
Once again we attended the London Classic Car Show, this time to launch the Mercedes Sprinter VIP Class with luxury car dealership Clive Sutton. During his 30 years in the industry, Clive has supplied an array of luxury and exotic cars to clients all around the world including Prime Ministers making them the perfect partner for us!
We also had the pleasure of converting a large fleet of New Generation Mercedes Sprinters for our local county council, Essex. The Sprinters were designed to reach the highest safety standards and included features such as high-tech night vision cameras, audible left turning warnings and cycle warning systems.
Enterprise is another company that we have worked closely with this past decade and in this time we have converted a range of different minibuses for them such as accessible minibuses, PTS ambulances and single WAV’s. We look forward to continuing our long-standing relationship with them into the new decade.
Another Coach and Bus UK exhibition took place in October and we were showcasing a very colourful Mercedes Sprinter! Converted for Hampshire County Council, our marvellous mint green minibus caught everyone’s eye and was enjoyed by all.
It’s been a fantastic decade and we are incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved. We would like to thank all of our customers and suppliers who have helped contribute massively to our success over the past 24 years. 2020 is definitely going to be another exciting year as we will be celebrating our Silver Anniversary and of course in true Stanford’s style there will be a big birthday bash along with a special Johnny Wiggins bus. Make sure you keep early July free in the diary!
Happy New Year, here’s to the next decade of Stanford Coachworks!