My Car Quest

September 20, 2021

Charles Agapiou: Shelby’s English Mechanic

by Wallace Wyss –

During 40 plus years of occasionally writing a book on Shelby and crew, the most colorful figure I met was Charlie Agapiou (pronounced AGA -POO). He speaks with a cockney accent worse than Michael Caine in Alfie.

He is now snow haired but, back when he moved from London in 1961 he had jet black hair and an Errol Flynn mustache. According to an article in the new fancy British magazine Retromotive, Agapiou was a truck mechanic when he moved to the US. At first he went to Florida but then came out to California. He was walking down the street in Los Angeles and saw a sign for an “English mechanic.” Now I would want to know did they mean English cars? But he went in, met Ken Miles and became a mechanic for Shelby’s most famous driver, only back then Miles hadn’t been hired by Shelby yet.

Charles Agapiou and Ken Miles

Charles Agapiou and Ken Miles – Photo credit: Dave Friedman

When Miles went to work for Shelby as mechanic and race driver, Charlie was invited to join him soon after. But instead of English buses and lorries he soon found himself working on the fastest cars in the world, such as shoehorning the first big block into the Cobra. He also crewed on the GT40s. There was according to the magazine, a spot of bother with the FBI showing up and saying something to the effect of, well, you’ve been here a good long time now, when you going to register for the draft? There was a war on. So he went into the service but luckily, got out for weekends and managed to be flown to all the important races, even the 24 Heures du Mans to turn wrenches (I can imagine back at the barracks when they asked Charlie where he was last weekend and he said something like “Oh, I went over to France to help Ford win LeMans….).

After he left Shelby’s team he and his brother Kerry ran their on team with donated race cars and parts but finally Charlie started working on Rolls & Bentleys while his brother continued to race. Now 33 years later he still has a shop in West Los Angeles.

I can’t help wondering how many people in show business who bring Charles Agapiou their Roller or Bentley recognize him as a character in the movie Ford v. Ferrari? Of course the movie actor playing Charlie was 40 years younger but the accent’s the same.

Charlie will be at a Shelby gathering September 18th in El Segundo at the Zimmerman Museum, only a half mile or so from Shelby’s former factory in the ’60s. The event is from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM at 610 Lairport St, El Segundo, CA 90245.

I already sold him a jacket bearing a painting of him and Phil Remington working on a Cobra back in the day. We’ll see what else he’s in a mood for if he’s nostalgic?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

The Author: Wallace Wyss has a selection of Cobra & GT 40 art. You can write for a list to malibucarart@gmail.com

 
 
 

 

 

Summary
Charles Agapiou: Shelby's English Mechanic
Article Name
Charles Agapiou: Shelby's English Mechanic
Description
I can't help wondering how many people in show business who bring Charles Agapiou their Roller or Bentley recognize him as a character in the movie Ford v. Ferrari?
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Comments

  1. “I already sold him a jacket bearing a painting of him and Phil Remington working on a Cobra back in the day. ”

    Could you please post pic of the painting?

    Thanks

  2. wallace wyss says

    I II haven’t figured out what track,i am thinking Germany or Italy or France. Charlie might remember I will probably see him at the Zimmerman Museum, El Segundo on Sept. 18 when there’s a Shelby event

    https://www.lashelbyclub.com/events/16th-annual-tony-sousa-memorial-car-show-1

    and he and his brother Kerry are guest speakers. The painting is available as a 20″ x 30 giclee prjnt, embellished with oils Write malibucarart@gmail.com for prices & availability

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