In the Workshop
What’s your history?
The firm began as a one-man band over 30 years ago, when restoration was a much smaller world. I trained as a physicist, so this was a case of turning a hobby into a business. I’d always had a mechanical aptitude I date from the time when you had to make your own toys! and pre-war cars are much more mendable than modern ones. Now we employ 28 people, and we’re expanding. A lot of new work is coming from Europe people have decided that classic cars are a safer investment than shares!
What’s your range of skills?
We do everything except trim and woodwork; for those we use two trusted companies nearby. Otherwise we manufacture parts, build engines and chassis, and do our own panelling and painting. We’ve even had to find out how to grind down fishscales in the old way to replicate the original paint finish on an early Phantom. If that’s what’s needed, that’s what we do.
Do you have a specialisation
We concentrate largely on pre-war machinery, particularly Rolls-Royce of anywhere from 1906 to 1940, and Bentley, although we deal with many other marques too. We also handle postwar coachwork, and we find we’re doing more long-distance rally preparation.
What’s in the workshop now?
Fourteen pre-war Rolls-Royces and Bentleys, the oldest being a 1923 20hp. There’s an unusual Springfield Phantom doctor’s coupe with folding roof, a Derby 31/2 that belonged to the Kidston family, an Art Deco Bentley with Carlton body, and another 31/2 with division rare for a Bentley built for the then Prince Michael. Luckily we’ve just moved to larger premises!
What projects are you proud of?
Two awards at the last Pebble Beach concours with a Graber-bodied Rolls 20/25 (above), which was the first time one of the smaller Rolls Royces has won there. And the Derby Bentley saloon we prepared for a Peking to Paris trip, which got there without problems and was the competitors’ choice for the car they’d most like to do the next event in.
GC was talking to Will Fiennes www.fiennes.co.uk