Christmas Day fire destroys prominent British-car parts supplier

YouTube/CBS Pittsburgh

The Roadster Factory, a nearly 48,000-square-foot facility in Armagh, Pennsylvania, that was a well-known aftermarket supplier for British sports cars such as Triumphs and MGs, was declared a “total loss” after a massive fire broke out in the facility early on Christmas morning.

Around 1 a.m. on December 25, the Armagh/East Wheatfield Fire Department, in Indiana County about 55 miles east of Pittsburgh, received a call reporting a fire at the Roadster Factory facility. More than a dozen fire departments eventually arrived on the scene to help fight the blaze, which had engulfed the building. According to a report from WCCS Radio, there were some antique vehicles in the building, only a handful of which could be rescued.

The blaze raged all night long, and excavators were eventually called in to search the wreckage and help the firefighters seek out any hotspots that may have still posed a threat once the flames were quelled. “I would think we’re going to be here for 20 hours,” Armagh and East Wheatfield Township Fire Chief Tom Fry told The Tribune Democrat. “And then we’re probably going to get called back.”

According to Fry, fighting the blaze was made extra challenging because of equipment difficulties such as hoses that were springing leaks and trucks that were running low on fuel after idling for hours with no chance to replenish the tanks. Water was also scarce, according to the report from The Tribune Democrat.

The state police fire marshal has been contacted to investigate what caused the fire, according to Fry.

“It is the goal of The Roadster Factory to make it as easy as possible for our customers to drive, maintain and restore classic British sports cars for fun, for transportation, for racing, or for shows as they desire,” said the company’s website. “To this end, we stock everything from major components to nuts and bolts, and we provide free copies of parts catalogues for individual models.”

Roadster Factory exterior
Facebook/The Roadster Factory

The Roadster Factory was started by the late Charles Runyan, in 1978, serving British car enthusiasts for more than four decades. Albert Runyan, the business’ current owner, declined to comment on the matter, according to The Tribune Democrat.

It’s no doubt a devastating loss for the British sports car community, and our hearts go out to Albert Runyan and his employees.

Roadster Factory
Facebook/The Roadster Factory




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    Sad news. I’m devastated, and my thoughts are with Albert and the wonderful employees of the Roadster Factory. I have been buying parts from TRF for nearly 20 years, and they provide a “niche” of quality sometimes missing from other suppliers.

    Sad, sad news. The Roadster Factory proffered parts unavailable anywhere else on Planet Earth. I did business with them for years. My condolences.

    What a sad thing to have a business destroyed by fire after the family and employees have invested so much of themselves to support the British Car Hobby.

    Always sad to see a small business – and one so vital to the hobby- suffer such an incredible loss. Just glad that there were no fatalities. In the end of the day its all just stuff- hopefully they had a good insurance policy and can rebuild.

    Terrible news. I’m sure irreplaceable parts were consumed. My favorite Ducati dealer suffered a shop fire several years ago as well. Stored antique bikes and all. Fire started on a bike with a faulty lithium battery. That bike was fully consumed in vapor and some molten metals on the floor.

    A real tragedy, and on Christmas, of all days. I see a hydrant out front, so have to I wonder if the building was sprinkled, and if not, why. Not Monday morning quarterbacking, I was a firefighter for 35 years and I’m truly curious. Sprinklers can make a huge difference, particularly in an occupancy which may hold things of great value (sentimental and otherwise).

    what a bummer and I can totally relate to the sinking feeling you have after looking through the rubble, after having survived 2 wild fires here in Northern Ca…The good news is although there wil be some bits that you’ll never get back,you can come back from it as I did…All the best of luck….

    So sad. Been buying parts from them for many years. They would always help out in a personal way unlike others. Hope they car rebuild, going to be impossible to locate some parts without them.

    This is terribly sad news. I have a customer of the Roadster Factory since 1985, in the interim I relied upon TRF to restore my Triumph more than once. My condolences to Albert Runyan and the team at TRF, you will be missed.

    Terrific loss for the LBC community. I’m a customer since Dad and I refurbed a ratty TR6 in 1982. I still have one of the notebook sized early catalogs.

    I always admired the way that TRF would honestly call out quality issues with new production replacement parts; ‘…these are not perfect, but are the best currently available new production parts.’ Providing the information and trusting the customer to make their own, educated decision. Best of luck to them!

    Truly a great loss. Receiving parts for my TR6 was like Christmas each time. Sorry for your loss of a very good company hope you can rebuild.

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