Dick Crosthwaite began working on Bugattis in the late 1950's when parts were still available from the famous Molsheim factory. At the same time, John Gardiner was working as a toolmaker. Joining forces in the 1960s, Dick and John took on a garage in Lamberhurst, Kent when they wanted to buy a batch of magnetos inside the derelict garage, but ended up having to buy the garage in order to get the magnetos! Crosland Engineering was formed and they worked as classic car restorers and a BMW garage. After realising that Lamberhurst wasn't necessarily the most logical place for a BMW garage with 17 staff they looked to a new direction.
After moving to the current idyllic premises at Buxted in 1969, Crosthwaite and Gardiner as we know it today, was formed. Their beginnings with Bugattis continue to this day as every type of Bugatti, bar the Royale, has been through their workshops. Buying stock, original pattern equipment and drawings over the years and the need to manufacture parts for the cars that have been through the doors have resulted in Crosthwaite and Gardiner carrying the largest stock of Bugatti parts in the world.
Adding to the Bugatti work, Crosthwaite and Gardiner created a name for themselves by manufacturing new components for other famous racing marques. A series of projects to re-manufacture some of the most famous historic racing engines led to brand new Coventry Climax FPF, Maserati Birdcage, Jaguar LWE and D-type engines all of which still form the strongest product lines that the company offers.
In the 1960s, Dick and John ran two of the greatest historic racing protagonists, Neil Corner and the Right Honourable Patrick Lindsay. When Dick and John prepared Neil's Type 35 all the other cars were being run and prepared by the owners, so Dick and John were the first company to offer a professional race preparation service for vintage cars. Some of the highlights where running Neil Corner's Mercedes W125 at the Monaco GP support race and running John Cobb's Napier Railton. Dick and John looked after many collectors of some of the most famous racing cars around, including 'Remus', Prince Chula's ERA which is the most raced car of all time, countless Maserati 250Fs, the last front engined GP Ferrari and the most dominant BRM P25.
During the 1970s Crosthwaite and Gardiner ran Alan de Cadenet's Le Mans entry. A low budget entry compared to the factory teams of Ferrari, Matra and Renault meant that skill, knowledge, guile and a little slice of persuasion were used in abundance. The high point of the annual outings to La Sarthe was in 1976 when the team finished the famous 24 hour race third overall. Using second hand tyres from the other teams out the back of the garage, they ended up with the works teams in the front of the garage trying to work out how they were doing so well.
At a similar time, Crosthwaite and Gardiner designed and built the Kougar kit car. It was a Jaguar-powered car with a strong resemblance to a Frazer Nash Le Mans, and was a great success. The rights for the Kougar were later sold to allow the company to focus on the company's other activities and the cars are still being made today.
The biggest and longest on-going project for Crosthwaite and Gardiner came through an old friend and customer of Dick and John's, Neil Corner. Restoring Neil's 1939 Mercedes Benz W154 and Auto Union D-type led to the restoration of two more D-types for Paul Karrasik. This work attracted the attention of Audi, who commissioned Crosthwaite and Gardiner to create brand new recreations of the famous cars. Seven new builds later, covering all of the models including the AVUS streamliner car and having worked on all of the original Auto Unions in existence, Crosthwaite and Gardiner are the experts in the pre-war Silver Arrows.
Crosthwaite and Gardiner have always invested in the tooling and information to make the best parts possible. This continual investment has resulted in a drawing office full of over 12,000 original and CAD drawings, a pattern store with thousands of sandcasting wooden patterns and a machine shop equipped with some of the latest CNC equipment mixed with traditional fine engineering machines.
A brand new extension to the existing buildings has seen a new stores department, pattern store and race shop, all of which will be very valued additions to the existing infrastructure.
Currently, brand new part manufacturing, new race engine building, engine and gearbox rebuilding, car restoration, new car builds and race car preparation all play an important part in Crosthwaite and Gardiner's business.
The history of Crosthwaite and Gardiner is one of the most important factors in the company's present and future. Since the 1960s, the company has been at the forefront of the historic motor racing world.