Clair Jeffreys, founder and director of GRE Classics, is interviewed about her stunning collection of art pieces and luxury gifts
Clair tell me about your range of art pieces
I have designed, created and developed a collection of limited edition one-eighth scale prestigious model cars loosely based on the iconic 1920’s Bentley racing car. Branded GRE Classics they are the very best in hand-crafted luxury gifts and engineered art pieces for all ages as well as being the ultimate ride on model car for children aged 2-5 years old. Matched with precision engineering and quality craftsmanship these models are unique pieces for any home, office or playroom.
How did you get involved with Bentley Motors?
Following a chance meeting at our launch at The Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2013, Bentley’s head of product design instantly fell in love with the range of GRE model cars. Several meetings later and with Bentley’s input into the design, the special edition Bentley Blower model was launched.
What was the inspiration for this fascinating business idea?
The inspiration was my late grandfather Sir George Robert Edwards (GRE), a name synonymous with some of Britain’s greatest pioneering achievements in British civil, military and supersonic aviation. A genius engineer and designer and responsible for many successful aeroplanes and the pinnacle being his skilled leadership of the British team Concorde project for which he was highly awarded. In his legacy, GRE Classics carries much of his ‘DNA’ and celebrates British design, engineering and manufacturing. Clearly I was not going to build aeroplanes so I decided to create a collection of stunning art pieces and gifts with the same precision, attention to detail and Britishness as his creations.
How are these models made?
The body is crafted from solid tulipwood then hand sprayed in a high gloss paint to a ‘billiard ball’ finish. The wheels are machined aluminium, the steering and axle system are polished stainless steel and the seat and steering wheel are genuine hand stitched leather. Each model consists of over 110 parts and takes approximately 60 hours to make and all carry their own unique serial number. I do the final assembly in my workshop at home.
Who are they for?
Our collectors tend to be affluent and appreciate British craftsmanship as well as the romance of the story behind the brand. Many of my clients are men who simply want to admire them in their office or home. Leading up to Christmas we have seen orders from women buying them as luxury gifts for their partners or children. They really are timeless gifts for any age and for the generations to come.
Can you develop bespoke models?
Most definitely yes. Within the GRE collection, we offer the GRE Custom which is built to order, to your specification, to tell your own story with numerous options for personalisation. We are also able to offer some personalisation on the Bentley Blower model. If you really want a simplified model of your very own car we can do this too.
What are your plans for the future?
My focus is now to approach suitable high-end retailers and outlets across the globe and I am delighted the Bentley Blower model is now available from Harrods. I am also currently working with other prestigious British car manufacturers so the future is looking very exciting.
I understand that as well as being a mother you also find time to compete as an event rider?
That’s right although it really is a juggling act. For many years, I have competed as an international equestrian three-day event rider and was a member of Team GB in 2011. I still ride competitively, but it has to very much fit around my growing business.
GRE Classics – Where and how
The Bentley Blower is available from £3,200 and the GRE Classic range from £2,950. For more information visit www.greclassics.co.uk