In 2007 Pendragon’s UK exclusivity agreement was withdrawn, and it soon walked away altogether from selling Corvettes and Cadillacs. With GM Europe no longer in existence, it was GM North America that was forced to step in and deal with the UK matter. It made Bauer Millett the sole Corvette distributor and licensed a handful of Saab dealers, which had no previous experience with Corvettes, to provide additional outlets for servicing, repair and warranty work.
Then in 2009, Kroymans, which at its peak two years earlier employed 3,900 people and had annual revenues of approximately three billion dollars, went bankrupt with debts of close to a billion dollars. GM again had to step in to keep things going and to pick up the tab for any warranty claims previously borne by Kroymans. But then GM itself filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009. In February 2010, GM sold Saab to the Dutch carmaker Spyker, and then, at the end of 2011, Saab went bust, leaving its Corvette-approved UK dealers high and dry. It was a sorry state of affairs.
Nothing much had changed when Lynch bought his ZR1 from Bauer Millett. He admits that the circumstances were far less than ideal for buying a new Corvette, especially a ZR1 which carried a sticker price close to $200,000 in the UK. Before closing the deal, Lynch says he asked himself, Am I mad? But he was eager to get back into a Corvette.
“I change my cars quite often,” Lynch explains. “I’ve had Ferraris, Bentleys, TVRs, Mercedes, Audis and Porsches. I’ve also had a number of Corvettes, including a C5 convertible, a C6 and a Z06, and have loved them all. My last car was an Audi R8 V10 Spyder which was a brilliant, superbly built and very fast car, but ultimately boring. It left me a bit cold. My wife, Jennifer, said, ‘Why don’t you go and buy another Corvette? You know you love them.’ Within four hours of her saying that I had signed up for a ZR1.”
From Lynch’s perspective, the retail route was preferable to the grey-market one. “With the current exchange rates, I wouldn’t contemplate bringing one in from the U.S. on my own,” he explains. “If it was still two plus dollars to the pound, maybe. Anyway, I prefer doing it the correct way and having a proper UK car with the full, three-year warranty. If something like the gearbox went bang you would easily lose any savings made. And then there’s the better resale value of a UK car. Besides, Bauer Millett offered me a ridiculously good deal.”
Originally, Lynch’s ZR1 was shipped to Bahrain. In the end, though, it was converted to UK specification, including the installation of headlight washers and other required items, and sold to Bauer Millett. Not surprisingly, ZR1s are rare in England. “As far as I know, it is one of only three registered in this country,” says Lynch. “I like that exclusivity.”
Convenience, however, was not part of the deal. Lynch resides some 200 miles away from Bauer Millett, in a lovely, leafy suburb near Windsor Castle, the Queen’s official residence. “The biggest downside of owning a Corvette is the complete lack of dealers,” he says. “It is a risk owning it. If I have problems with it, I’m faced with a trip to Manchester to get it sorted. And after the warranty runs out, you’re on your own. I will probably sell it before then.”