It must be fifteen years or more since I started to help the SPOGman of that time, Pete Abbott, with the distribution of SPOG Parts. There was no 2cvGB Unit at Ruskington back then, all the items being stored here under a bed in the spare room. At that time we currently supplied the 2cv front door A post gutter repair and the Dyane lower windscreen panel besides various other pieces of folded metal. In 2004 I took over from Pete on the 2cvGB Committee but more of that later.
Firstly though, more information regarding SPOG Part 900015 spring and isolator for the early A series 12 volt wiper motors. As you can see from the photograph detailing these items actually fitted, the re-manufactured spring is made to the same size and tension as an original example fitted to a brand new unused Ami wiper motor which is now part of Club Archive. The isolator, being prone to breakage, we have made thicker and stronger thereby hopefully increasing the longevity of this part. When re-manufacturing items, SPOG always tries to improve on the overall Citroen design if financially viable to do so.
During my first stint as your SPOG Coordinator, the priority was to manufacture front and rear nylon door catches for the pre-1973 Dyane. The original fitments suffered heat/light degradation to ultimately break on closing the door. Nothing new was available for MOT success at that time to replace old broken door catches and, apart from what SPOG supplies, the same is equally true today.
Likewise Dyane front door sliding window channels were failing despite the extrusion originally fitted to the car during production having an internal metal skeleton to maintain rigidity. Sadly this metal corroded particularly around the rain water drain holes along the bottom edge weakening the rubber. The end result was that upon closing the doors the glass window panes would fall out, not the best idea for an MOT pass. We had 200 pairs of Dyane front door sliding window channels made thinking this quantity would last a life-time. It didn’t so another 200 pairs were made of which over half that number have also sold.
My friend and neighbour Chris Bowes took over the SPOG Committee duties in 2010 with me continuing to beaver away in the background on the research and development front. More plastic injection moulded items appeared such as the later Dyane head-light sockets. However the 2cv was not forgotten with new front door lower hinge plates being manufactured. Door bottom seal strips too. But then the ultimate challenge came in from Rick Pembro who, upon rebuilding gearboxes, found that new synchro rings currently available were allegedly not of the best quality. He wanted synchro rings made to Citroen’s original measurements with a manufacturing tolerance of 0.01 mm. Everywhere I went I received the same answer … impossible.
However my research did prove successful in the end with SPOG now able to supply gearbox synchro rings made from the highest grade spring steel to the specified manufacturing tolerances. Indeed our synchro rings are now being fitted to A series vehicles throughout the UK, Europe and beyond, particularly so if your car’s gearbox has been rebuilt by Rick.
I returned to the Committee’s SPOG Coordinator’s role in 2014 to forward the re-manufacture of Dyane rear inner wings, one of our most expensive projects to date. Within my latest SPOG Articles you will have seen the results of such a venture with many Dyanes (such as John Sobey’s G reg RHD Dyane which won its Class at this year’s Registers Day) able to be restored using SPOG parts to a very high standard, probably now in better condition than when these cars left the Citroen Factory. However there is a lot more to SPOG than simply getting parts made to which I must now turn my attention.
Firstly with SPOG continuing to grow and yet still part of 2cvGb Ltd, such a position was found to be commercially unwise. Upon taking legal opinion we were advised that SPOG should become a separate company in its own right. That way if a liability claim came SPOG’s way necessitating a payout beyond our liability insurance limit, then the assets of 2cvGB would not be affected. Yes, SPOG would “go down the pan” but it would not take the Club with it. Thus 2CVGB PARTS Ltd was formed in order to protect the financial well-being of 2cvGB, there being no other reason for this business manoeuvre whatsoever.
Secondly with all the Accounts of SPOG now being separate from 2cvGB, a true picture of the Part Company’s finances could be seen. Indeed as it stands today, SPOG is not financially viable in the long term. Why? To answer this question you have to remember how SPOG was initially created. It was intended to be of benefit to the Membership of 2cvGB by manufacturing parts that could not be obtained elsewhere. And those who invested fully in the SPOG scheme (purchasing ten discount units) ultimately bought goods with minimal profit margin above the cost price of production. I’m happy to report that this whole ethos has remained unchanged ever since.
However in today’s modern world this situation cannot work unless things change significantly. Why? Besides normal operational expenses we now have undertaken the necessary Liability Insurance Cover since we are a parts manufacturer, there being nothing like this back in 1994 when SPOG was formed. And with our insurance policy currently costing £3k annually, we do not make enough profit to cover this additional overhead let alone further investment in tooling. Carry on as we are and the SPOG Company ultimately fails … simple arithmetic.
Possible avenues of change to investigate…..
- Raise all the prices by a significant amount in order to make more profit to cover our current expenses. But raising prices will probably diminish sales. What else?
- Encourage more folk to join the SPOG scheme. Sadly since it was created, SPOG has only received 300 contributions from the 2cvGB Membership which numbers over 2,000. Even that state of affairs, despite 2cvGB matching each investment pound for pound, has tailed off of late with the last SPOG contribution appearing in October 2017. I do find this lack of support disheartening considering all the effort I’ve put into SPOG over the years. But “c’est la vie”.
- Increase turnover of stock by upgrading the SPOG web-site to a mail order facility to include the ability to accept credit card payments. This would necessitate having weight/postage bands, something I’ve personally tried to avoid although now I think it is a case of needs must.
- Advertise our wares throughout Europe to include forming business arrangements/partnerships with overseas Traders.
- And lastly if any/all of the above is rather difficult to consider, 2cvGB could agree to a yearly injection of capital (it has the financial reserves to do so) in order to keep SPOG afloat. Does the 2cvGB Membership want a SPOG? If it does then it may have to pay for it.
These are just some of the options my successor might explore for SPOG to continue, my time is done as I think I’ve taken the scheme as far as I can.
Finally may I offer my thanks to each and everyone one of you who have helped me with SPOG since I started. Indeed I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself over the years. However all good things must come to an end. Goodbye.
2CVGB Parts (SPOG) supplying specialised, rare or obsolete 2CV parts