Following the war, he continued in the car trade and also ran the remaining mini cab fleet in Southampton , known as Clifford Cabs. He also established an aircraft sales business known as Southampton Air Services, operating out of Eastleigh Airport , which bought and sold war surplus aircraft for either scrap or the fuel they had in them. Some aircraft he also used in the immediate post war years, buying them from such far flung places as Nigeria in Africa ; this was his first venture into the aircraft charter business. It was during these ventures that he was asked to supply radiators to the Middle East for the cold nights; supply was short so he decided to design and make some. With the backing of an Arab sheikh, whom he only ever referred to as ‘Fred’, and some colleagues, a company that is a household name today was born, Dimplex.He never lost his love of grass track motor racing, obtaining many placings and again winning the novices race on 29 th June 1947 . By 1949, he had moved away from grass track racing and decided to race motor cars. He raced 500cc Formula 3 cars and joined the Cooper team. He also drove the JBS Norton and the Leston Special.
He was elected a member of the Britsh Racing Drivers Club during this time, a membership he proudly maintained for over 50 years, always wearing his BRDC lapel badge, and for which he received a commendation from the BRDC just a few years ago.He stopped racing in 1955, partly due to another bad racing accident and partly, no doubt, due to some encouragement on the part of his later wife and life long partner, Peggy, with whom he had had a second son, Geoffrey, on 17 th December 1953. A third son, Simon, followed on 9 th September 1957 . Throughout this period, he continued to earn his living in the car trade, operating a successful motor sales business known as Clifford Sales in Southampton and also became involved in property development. He also set up a haulage business running a fleet of refrigerated lorries transporting frozen foods known as Habin (Haulage) Limited. The haulage company was, during the early sixties, also used for transporting fruit machines all over the country for what can only referred to as a ‘certain organisation’, as they were certainly an illegal commodity in those days! It was not an uncommon event for his garage to be filled with fruit machines and for some ‘interesting’ people to descend upon the family home in Chilworth.
In 1964, whilst he was the director of the Hampshire Aeroplane Club Limited, he was responsible for building several replicas of the First World War Avro Triplane IV, which were flown by the actor, Terry Thomas, in the film “Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines”. Three replicas were built at his hanger at Eastleigh Airport with the assistance of Peter Hillwood and design drawings prepared by Ray Hilbourne, and they all flew beautifully. You may recall that one came to a sad end flying under a bridge in the film. What in fact happened was that the film crew came into the hanger and hacked the wings off to simulate the crash; he was there at the time and was furious for days. One surviving replica forms part of the Shuttleworth Collection in England and another, we believe, hangs in the Smithsonian in Washington . He was also responsible for constructing a replica of the First World War German ‘Pfalz D.III’ aircraft for the film “The Blue Max”, this time with the assistance of Viv Bellamy and again from design drawings prepared by Ray Hilbourne. During 1966, he decided to retire and in 1967 piloted his own plane to Jersey with Peggy, Geoffrey and Simon. Michael, who had by this time also joined the family car business, stayed in Southampton and managed Clifford Sales. The retirement was, however, short lived – apparently around four days! At first, he started buying cars and shipping them back to Southampton but, in 1971, the opportunity arose to buy the garage group known as St. Helier Garages, which comprised three garages in Bath Street , Don Road and First Tower in Jersey , a garage in St. Peter Port in Guernsey and a shed selling tractor parts in Sark . A new era had begun.
Whilst continuing to operate the garage businesses in Bath Street , now with the assistance of Geoffrey, and St. Peter Port , with the assistance of Michael, he acquired the air charter business of Aviation Beauport and undertook various property developments, including Wests Centre. In 1979, at the age of 64 years, the opportunity came to acquire the failing business of Intra Airways and so Jersey European Airways, now known as Flybe, was born. Some time later, he retired as chairman of Jersey European Airways, developed the garage premises at Bath Street into office blocks, now known as ‘ Britannia Place ’, and moved the garage business in Jersey to alternative premises.
In more recent times, the garage business in Jersey was sold, with Geoffrey now operating a successful motor bike business, and the garage business in Guernsey being sold, with Michael now in semi retirement. He only stopped flying at the age of 77 and became and avid wood worker in his workshop at home. In 2001, at the age of 86 years, he decided that he would like to go back to boating, which was his love many years previously. He went on a week’s yachting course out of Southampton . When told that the yacht would not be using the marinas, he asked the rest of the crew to contribute to the marina fees and then told the skipper that they were going to use the marinas whether he liked it or not! As ever, he would only do things in a professional manner and passed the Royal Yachting Association navigation exams at the age of 87! He still came into the garage on a daily basis to exercise his true passion in life, which was to sell something to somebody! Throughout his time in Jersey , many people from all walks of life would contact him, seeking advice, which he would freely give, although it was not always what they wanted to hear!
John Habin died on 26 th March 2005 , whilst on holiday in Fish Hoek, South Africa , with his wife, Peggy, just a few days before his 90 th birthday. He was still as active as he ever was, looking for a new opportunity. Just before his untimely death, he was arranging to go to South America to assist a friend in a new venture and do some fishing. That was the way he was, and he will be dearly missed by his family and all those that had the good fortune to meet him.
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