John Cooper Garages has sold its West Sussex Honda dealership to concentrate on the brand that made it famous in the swinging Sixties.

The garage in Ferring, near Worthing, opened in 1971 selling Mini Cooper engine-tuning kits and performance parts but has sold Hondas since 1986.

Now the garage, in Ferring Street, has been handed over to Yeomans Honda-Toyota dealership for an undisclosed sum.

John Coopers Works will continue to operate from its base in East Preston, converting Mini Coopers into race cars.

The garage in North Lane sells about 150 new Mini Coopers and 100 second-hand cars every year.

But its main focus is building Mini Cooper cars for the race track and producing high-specification tuning kits.

Since the kit was launched in April last year the garage has sold about 4,000 worldwide - netting the company almost £10 million.

Chairman Mike Cooper, 47, said: "We decided the time was right to pool our resources and concentrate on the Mini brand, which is our passion.

"In many ways the business has come full circle and we are now building race cars again like my dad did in the Fifties."

Wednesday January 07, 2004