John Gardiner, of Crosthwaite & Gardiner and Auto Union replication fame, died on September 1. He had been suffering from prostate cancer.
He was the classic car world’s best-respected restoration engineer. Gardiner spoke little, but when he did the wise paid rapt attention. He was ferociously bright, immensely gifted.
Born in Guildford in 1943, he studied engineering at Dartford Tech before emerging from apprenticeship as a highly skilled toolmaker. He loved Bugattis from his youth, and in 1963 met fellow enthusiast Dick Crosthwaite (above, right). They founded Crosland Engineering from which in 1969 grew their now-legendary restoration company Crosthwaite & Gardiner. They prepared the 24-litre Napier-Railton and a Maserati 250F for the Hon Patrick Lindsay, and de Cadenet Le Mans cars.
John’s technical prowess worked wonders with Bugattis, Ferraris, Maseratis, Jaguars, Aston Martins, Climax engines, and projects up to and including the Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union ‘Silver Arrow’ GP cars, which he restored, repaired and replicated.
He was a born engineer, confiding to friends, wide-eyed: “I don’t know how people can live without a lathe…” He is survived by his Scottish barrister wife of 29 years, Shiona – and he will be sorely missed.