Last week I had the good fortune to reach Eagle in the State of Colorado on my road trip across the USA. For those who do not know where this is, it is located within the Colorado Rockies, roughly 30 minutes down the road from the Vail Valley Ski Resort.
Conveniently located here is Birkin Direct-USA, owned and operated by Tom Carlin. Those of you who have participated with the East Coast HPDE events run at NJMP each year will have met Tom, who is an enthusiastic participant in the event despite the thousands of miles it takes to road trip there. Birkin Direct-USA is also in sight of and walking distance from Eagle Airport with direct connections from Dallas and Denver amongst other places. So not only can you come and visit Birkin Direct to try on cars plus explore options, you can also enjoy a Birkin test drive with plenty of great twisting roads. This was good fortune to me as it allowed me to say hello to Tom and check out Birkin Direct while my 50 year old car demonstrated its incontinence in a variety of fluids across Tom's parking area.
Birkin has been going through a period of tremendous change in the last 2 years. In late 2019 a press release (attached to this post) announced the intent to move production from South Africa to the USA given the ongoing political uncertainty in South Africa. These plans have continued to move forward. Birkin Direct relocated to its current location with 4800 sq feet of floor space and vertical height to allow upwards expansion. Tom's post on USA7s in May of 2020 updated this:
We are well in Birkin land. Just over a year ago we moved to a new larger facility the new workshop and warehouse are 4800 square feet with ceiling height to allow for vertical expansion along with an exterior storage yard with shipping containers for additional storage of items not temperature sensitive. We have completed the purchase of the inventory remaining in SA, it along with the special tooling and fabrication jigs will be packaged into a container and shipped to us here in Colorado. Unfortunately with the Covid19, which we are all dealing with, the time-frame for the shipment is uncertain. We currently have over 20 chassis (including all 4 models) and components for completing the cars along with an inventory of spare parts in stock in Colorado.
This transition is being made due to the political uncertainty and business conditions in SA. Overall this change will be a win for Birkin owners in the USA. There will be a more consistent supply chain, not dealing with “strike season”, shipping cost and time. We will be able to offer quicker customer support and product refinement. John Watson will still be involved with the design of new products and the evolution of current products.
From my discussions, the plans have proceeded well. Everything is in its containers and ready to go plus Tom has a facility ready made to receive things plus there is a ton of Birkin parts, kits and everything else needed to support the Birkin cars going forward. I like that John Watson will remain integrally involved with Birkin in these plans on a going forward basis.
Some photos to give you an idea. The space has very tall ceilings to allow for a mezzanine level to be eventually constructed for storage of parts. At the back at left is Tom's two-tone silver demonstrator/personal Duratec Birkin. On the lift is a Birkin zetec customer car getting sorted. In the foreground is a customer's new kit getting sorted and prepped for shipping. Tom was checking the wiring harness for quality when I arrived.
Everywhere you look are kits available for purchase. There are something like 20+ chassis' and all supporting pieces in inventory for purchase.
In the past, kits arrived from South Africa stacked 3 high within shipping containers, all securely held in these steel frames to protect them from damage during shipping. Birkin kits come as plain ali finish and owners can then choose to leave in its polished shiny state or have painted to their color preference when they purchase. Birkin quality is the equal to Caterham in my mind but the kit may demand a little extra from the builder to achieve the results as a Caterham kit is slightly more turn-key. Having USA based technical support is a huge benefit to potential purchasers.
The facility is fascinating to wander and explore. A huge store of parts. Engines, gearboxes, spare fiberglass wings, bit & pieces, even Birkin clamshells are available. This is the most Ford T-9 gearboxes I have ever seen in one spot.
A section of the facility has been set aside for customer discussions as they think through the specifications of their cars. Seat options, steering wheel, dials, suspension options, etc., are all able to be inspected and discussed in a setting that helps the customer visualize the end car result.
Tom not only knows his Birkins but is also helping out do a race restoration/refresh on an original Lotus 7 S2 race car.
Demonstrating his credentials as a true car enthusiast, Tom has his own personal Willys Jeep project that recently arrived. It will need some rust repairs based on the holes in the floors I saw. Not sure if I would sit in the drivers seat - I would not stay located there too long. I was reassured by the oil leak underneath, something I am all too familiar with!
Its not well known but Birkin Direct does have an eastern USA representative in Michigan, Analog Racing Cars LLC who can be found here:
If you are seriously looking at a new se7en, then I encourage you to visit Birkin Direct and take the time to consider the cars properly, try them on, and see what they can do on a few twisties with Tom. You can fly in and out on the same day with Tom picking you up at the airport next door. Although if you do that you will miss out on a spectacular part of the USA to explore.
Birkin Direct-USA is located at 210 Spring Creek Road, Unit B3, Gypsum CO, 81637.
Phone: (970) 376-5188