Although Gwyn established his business back in 1984 when he was just 16 years old, it was evident at a much younger age that he had a talent for modifying and improving most things mechanical.
When he was 11 years old, Gwyn told me that his dad bought a tipper lorry, this he said got his creative his juices flowing. From then on Gwyn was obsessed with trucks, he could name the exact make of a lorry by just hearing it and he would spend almost every weekend either modifying or mending something on the lorry. Gwyn was hooked.
When he was at school, Gwyn told me that he would modify the families lawn mower to go faster. He also customised a rotovator with a straight through exhaust and modified it so that he could fit an array of different attachments.
So it was no surprise that this passion and fascination for all things mechanical continued and flourished into his own business repairing and maintaining many types of vehicles alongside designing and manufacturing custom parts.
Gwyn’s first 4×4 was of course a Land Rover, a Series 2a to be precise, and by all accounts it was in a bit of a state when he got it. The venerable Land Rover was stripped and totally rebuilt, Gwyn also replaced the original petrol engine with a 2.2 BMC diesel lump which was much better.
Later, in 1989 Gwyn bought a 1 year old Toyota HiLux which he of course modified by making a 3” roll bar, bumper, sill bars and all manner of add on’s that adorned 4x4‘s in the late 80’s. Inevitably, Gwyn started off roading the HiLux, and he told me that everyone around him thought he was mad for taking such a vehicle off road!
“It’s a shame.” He said, “that I hadn’t joined AWDC by then as it wouldn’t have been a good vehicle to compete in. I sold it in 1992 and bought a newer HiLux as I wanted to fit a turbo and intercooler to the engine, I did and what a hell of a difference that made!”
Like his previous HiLux, Gwyn fabricated and fitted the usual roll bars and bigger rubber.
After he a rebuilt and modified a badly damaged Land Rover 90, Gwyn’s off roading became quite serious, and he began visiting Dave Mitchell’s Landcraft which is fairly local. He then began competing in winch challenge events, like the Optima Series which was run by Paul Peete and Paul Massey. This is where most of Gwyn’s ideas started life, driven by the need to improve his own Land Rover in off road winch challenge competitions.
“That’s where I made a name for myself.” He told me. “Others saw what I had created to improve my 90‘s off road performance, the more I modified it, the more interest it attracted, and that’s when ‘Gwyn Lewis 4x4’ began to take shape.”
Since then, Gwyn has been constantly developing new and innovate ideas for Land Rover enthusiasts to use on their own vehicles, both on and off road. Most of the items are designed and made in house, so quality is always assured.
As well as his heavy duty rear coil spring retainers, Gwyn has recently created a quick release rear mudflap mounting kit and front mudflap extensions for Defender’s.
He then designed the Gwyn Lewis Challenge Suspension Kit using Toyota Land Cruiser 11” travel pin/pin shocks all round. He admitted that he lost a lot of sleep trying to get all the components to work, adjustments where continuously made before it was perfected.
The uniqueness with Gwyn is that once he has an idea in his head, he then has to set about creating the tools that makes the product, and that takes time and effort. Of course, if the end product isn’t up to his standards, then the process of rebuilding the tool starts over again, it’s all trial and error.
His rear spring re-locator was one idea that took a long time for him to find the right length to hook the spring at the right time. Gwyn was visibly deflated when he found that another company had taken his idea and copied it. Now there are quite a few companies selling ‘bootleg’ versions, but they do say that imitation is the highest form of flattery.
Gwyn also sells Sumo Bars, in fact, when Ian Sykes of 4allfours decided to sell up and move to Iceland, as his biggest customer at the time, Gwyn bought the name and rights.
He now supplies these heavy duty replacement steering bar for the Defender, Discovery 1, Discovery 2, Range Rover Classics, as well as the Series range. There are 2 types of bars available, the original 29mm Heavy Duty Hollow bar that is accepted by the ALRC and AWDC as replacements and the 32mm EXT Solid Bar for those wanting more strength.
He prides himself and his team on always willing to advise and treat customers like he would like to be treated himself as a customer. “These days,” He told me, “It’s getting difficult to find a retailer who wants to help or has the knowledge to advise on products. Some companies just want to make money and aren’t bothered if you buy the right item or not.”
He’s aware that he’s lost a lot of sales over the years by not selling items to customers. When a customer phones and wants to purchase something which Gwyn knows is wrong and won’t work, he’ll tell them. He would rather lose business than have an unhappy customer.
Gwyn’s the type of person who very rarely switches off, wherever he goes he’ll notice something and an idea of how to improve it will pop into his head. You get the impression that no matter what his passion is, he will always find ways to improve on the norm.
He’s quite proud of the fact that his products are not only found all around the globe, but are also used in many of the harshest competitions in the world, like the Rhino Charge in Kenya.
It isn’t often that you hear about companies that don’t advertise, but Gwyn is a case in fact, he finds himself in wonderful position that a lot of customers find him from word of mouth, which is the best kind of advertising. Although you can still visit his website, Gwyn tells me that a new on-line shop is currently under construction, if you want to buy something then customers can either phone them or visit his ebay shop.
Meanwhile, whilst his team are busy servicing and MOT’ing, Gwyn is happy in the background these days inventing and creating new products, he can’t help it, it’s what he does best!