Alfa Romeo GT Junior

Steve Archer at Smart Automotive has just finished a full restoration of an Alfa that's become a family heirloom

We’ve just completed a really nice restoration and upgrade of an Alfa GT Junior. It was an emotional one for the owner, Andrew Lawley, because he’s had the car since he was 14 or 15. Now, all these years on, he’s just been on a touring holiday in Europe with his own son in the completed car.

The initial plan for the Alfa — a 1969 ‘step front’ car that wasn’t registered until ‘71 — was to just give it a tidy-up. It came to us as a runner and the idea wasn’t to go mad on the restoration. But the car didn’t reveal its true horrors until we took it apart. After we’d striped the interior and taken the glass out, we realised that the shell wasn’t what we’d call secure.

Andrew came in and looked at the car and we discussed the options. Covering up the horrors wasn’t an option for us or him. He wanted the car to be right and because it was going to need so much work he realised that he had to the chance to create something special he could use for touring. He spent more than he’d initially planned to do, but he’s now got a car that won’t go wrong in five or six years.

We’ve ended up with a car where the bottom 12 inches of the shell are pretty much new. The floor and the sills have been replaced, as have the wings and the quarter panels. We’ve had to repair the bottom of the front bulkhead where it meets the floor, and the same at the back under the rear seats.

We’ve specced it up with some really nice bits in from Alfaholics, the suspension and the diff, and an engine from Brunswick Racing, a hot two-litre job. It’s now on larger wheels shod with modern tyres. We have retained all the original parts we’ve taken off, including the engine, so it can be returned to an original 1300 GT Junior.

Andrew wanted to keep the car in the original blue because otherwise it wouldn’t have been his car. The interior is now tan. When he got the car, it came with a black dash, but it had actually been re-covered. We checked with the build sheets and found out that it was definitely tan when it came out of the factory.

Andrew has now got a really nice car, a car that’s going to last. And it’s the same GT Junior in which he learnt to drive, took to university and has owned for all these years.

Current projects

Jaguar E-type drophead

It’s full speed ahead on a chassis-up rebuild of this 1968 right-hand drive straight-six E-type, a series one and a half car. Status: The client put the brakes on the restoration late last year, but it’s now due for completion next spring.

Ferrari 512 Berlinetta Boxer

A 1979 512BB, a car being restored by Keys Motorsport, is in our workshops for repairs to the aluminium body and repainting in its original two-tone red and black. Status: Ready to go back to Keys at Silverstone to continue its restoration by the end of September.