It’s been a groundbreaking year for CPP Global Holdings, the British automotive group. Having acquired the Bowler off-road supercar firm and announced plans to produce cars at the historic Browns Lane site in Coventry, CPP has now been commissioned by Jensen brand owner Healey Sports Cars Switzerland to build a new version of the classic Jensen Interceptor GT car. Brendan O’Toole, who founded CPP in 1995 and co-owns the company with Vladimir Antonov, spoke to Autocar about his company’s ventures.
How did the deal to build the Jensen Interceptor come about?
"I’ve known the brand owners for years. Of late, conversations with the guys there have become more involved. Investing into Jensen was never a problem for these guys because they’re passionate and they want to build a car and they’re behind it 100 per cent, but their problem has always been where to build such a car.
“In these ultra-low volumes it’s easy to find a cottage industry that will support one or two cars, or it is quite easy to find a huge operation that will support a few thousand, but when you’re talking about ultra-low volume, where do you do it? When the story became clear what our plans were – a coachbuilding service that can build one to 250 cars for a customer, all can be different – they suddenly realised that there was a chance that they could build the Jensen.”
How many examples of the Interceptor will be built?
"There’s still a bit of research to be done, but what I would say is there has been fabulous, breathtaking interest, even over the days since the news was released. We specialise in building cars from one to 250, so it will be within that range."
Would it be correct to assume the engine will be a V8, as with the original Jensen Interceptor?
"It will be at least a V8, of course, and we have been discussing several powertrains. We’ve packaged the car engineering-wise to fit a number of powertrains. There are a lot of commercial and purchasing discussions to go into that decision, but we’ve built lots of cars so we know how to package-protect for whatever we choose in the future."
Recent CPP developments have emphasised the company’s British roots. Is that an aspect that’s important to you personally?
"What we have here is lots of clever, flexible, experienced people who can make this happen and want to make this happen. It suits what is happening to this region. We are trying to capture the past, maybe not in volume, but in quality and interest. We’re trying to re-establish luxury car making in Coventry in a similar way to the Banbury area is linked to Formula 1.
"I’ve got a great belief that the UK will again become powerful in car manufacture, maybe not in terms of the number of brands being built but in terms of a loyal customer base that wants to buy quality British and European products and wants to buy quality."
It’s been a busy year for CPP Global Holdings. You’ve acquired the Bowler off-road company, the Browns Lane site and entered an agreement with Zagato. Was this all part of a grand plan?
“What was important to us was a balanced group. A balanced group needs to support our trade customers, such as Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls Royce, which we’ve always done, but it also means that we should have our own brand that we can develop and sell in low volume. It means that more than anything we can keep our team together, whether that’s coachbuilders, designers, engineers – keeping the team together is important because it benefits our trade customers and our own brand.
“This was a strategy discussed by myself and Vladimir Antonov early in 2010. He committed his support because it isn’t easy to do this thing organically – it takes quite a bit of time.
“There is more news to come regarding future relationships with CPP with customers that want to build cars but up until now didn't know where to build cars. I say this with all honestly and sincerity – we planned to do this for many years and now we’re at a stage where we can. The golden age of coachbuilding has not been and gone – I think it has only just started.”