Our story

Born out of a lifelong passion for aviation and racing cars. The founders Peter and Erna Watts succeeded in realising their ambition to lay the foundations for a forward-thinking, modern day alternative way of supporting legacy aviation products, where OEM’s no longer support their products. This began in earnest in 1987 when Retro was established, and the term “Retro” was being coined for all things vintage. Consolidation of their CAA – A1 Approved Organisation business concerns at Mid-West Engines after successful CAA Public Transport Type Certification (the last UK CAA JAR-E piston engine program) and Retro’s incorporation in 2000, took the company forward yet another stage. Whilst the first of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flights Merlin engines was overhauled in the spring of 1999, this was not Retro’s first of type to be accomplished. However, it was probably to be the most significant.

An enduring relationship was forged out of the troubled situation Retro found the BBMF in back in 1999. Having being reduced to flying their newly rebuilt Hurricane home with an engine with less than 5 flying hours remaining before a major overhaul. With their fighters denuded of engines to keep the Lancaster flying, the race was on to put right years of sub-standard Merlin overhaul. A particular high point being when Merlin engine reliability was considered to have been remedied by Retro’s hard work and Merlin powered fighters were again allowed to return to the skies above central London.

Having mastered Merlin and Griffon engines, Retro has proceeded to address the yawning void left by the army of OEM’s, which have exited the market in terms of in-service support for 40 + different air systems. In response to customers demands, 2010 was another turning point in the business development. Retro’s UK CAA Design and Production Approval was granted (first A8-21 to be approved) this coupled with the acquisition of the huge array of design data, manufacturing and test equipment, necessary to properly support our customers, was advancing further Retro’s commitment to continuing airworthiness.

Running in parallel to the aforementioned, was the thriving Grand Prix and Sports car restoration business that stood behind the aviation business. Notable success with Lotus, Brabham and March cars over many championship & race winning seasons, competing in both the UK and across Europe. Racing activities are firmly entwined with the principles of the business although now reserved for their personal pastime.

The story could not be complete without mentioning the aircraft synonymous with Retro. From the fledgling beginnings of PFA home-built’s of the 1960’s, through to the honour of vintage concours recognition back in the 1980’s with the Bucker Jungmann pictured, Retro has gone on to blaze a trail manufacturing Warbird primary aero structures and systems for legendary types such as the Avro Lancaster, Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane, Focke Wulf 190 and Gloster Gladiator to name but a few.

Meet the Team

Team photograph coming soon.