Inside Historic & Vintage Restorations

By: Mary Lee, Photography by: Guy Allen

Presented by

We go behind the scenes at HVR to see what it takes to build, repair and restore vintage and classic sports cars...

 

Historic & Vintage Restorations

You wouldn’t know it to look at it, but housed inside a modest little building on an unremarkable suburban street, is a workshop that is a ‘hospital’ for some of the world’s rarest and most desirable cars – Historic & Vintage Restorations.

Paul Chaleyer, Managing Director of the company, recently gave us a guided tour of the workshop. As we sat among vintage Bugattis, Bentleys and a 1930s Delage D8S, he gave us an insight into who they are and what they do.

From building his first car at 16 and a family background involving vintage cars, Paul admits he "got the bug, badly". Working on cars and then racing in his 20s built a life-long passion, leading him into the business. Paul says, "the pleasure is actually the finished product and the craftsmanship, and the excitement of actually pressing the button when you’ve had that engine, or car, in a million pieces."

"The good thing is the cars … that’s the number one thing, and the people that are involved in it."

ABOUT HVR

Historic & Vintage Restorations (HVR) has been restoring, modifying and maintaining vintage and classic cars and motorcycles for 15 years. Starting out as a small business, Paul and the team have grown from only working on ’20s and ’30s sports cars to now include more ‘modern’ ’50s and ’60s machines. Projects include marques such as Bentley, Bugatti, MG, Alvis, Lagonda, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Ferrari and more.

The business expanded to cater for the full cross-section of the trade with its own machine shop, maintenance and assembly area, dyno-tuning, plus panel and fabrication, and is mostly self-sufficient in-house. They build their own panels and also remanufacture engines from castings because the original components – especially old sports car engines – are simply worn out. Chrome-plating, painting and upholstery are project-managed by HVR with selected specialists.

There is a strong focus on client involvement. "Painting is very personal … same with upholstery", says Paul, who insists the owner meet with the contractors to go through the process. He adds, "The customer’s always right!"

In the body shop, the process begins where car bodies are mocked up from a photograph into a skeleton. Paul says this is where the owner can "see whether he will fit in the car, or not … then get a feeling of what the car’s going to look like." From there, the frame – wooden or steel – is made and the aluminium panels are added, which are made using a steel former. "We’re only making one-offs, they don’t have to be elaborate, but they’ve actually got to represent the shape," he says.

Paul showed us some current projects in the workshop, including an Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 B MM Spider chassis, and a Maserati 450S reconstruction with its beautiful, fully-restored V8 in the engine assembly room. Walk around the corner and there are a few surprises, from a hand-built tubular-frame Aston Martin DB4, a Jaguar XK 120 Coupe chassis – a combination of steel, aluminium and wood frame, and a Sunbeam twin-cam engine in the process of a rebuild from a barrel casting. Plus, there is his own beautiful Alfa Romeo 1958 Giulietta Spider (featured in Unique Cars magazine #344 – read JB’s Past Blast here).

CHALLENGES

As Paul describes some of the challenges with restorations - including peculiarities with hand-built cars from the ’50s like the Aston Martin DB4 - he says, "manufacturers in those days never expected that we would be restoring those cars 50, 60, 70 years later … that wasn’t the intention of the construction, to be long lasting … you do get some inconsistencies sometimes from one side to the other. As the Italian coachbuilders say, ‘you can’t look at both sides at once!’ "

As part of the beginning-to-end process, Paul says HVR can "acquire a car, restore it and then set it up and deliver it." With a staff line-up all involved in cars and various forms of motorsport, HVR has also helped its clients set up their machines at race tracks.

A self-professed "petrol head from way back", Paul says it’s an exciting and rewarding business to be in - the creation process is the most exciting part and the pleasure is in the finished product.

"The exciting thing is that you’re actually creating something, when a car arrives in a pile of bits … the pleasure is in the finished product and the craftsmanship … and we get the pleasure of driving them."

Clients vary from investors to enthusiasts, and sometimes ask HVR to consult on a prospective purchase. Paul recalls a visit to inspect a restored Ferrari that "looked fabulous - the interior was perfect, the engine bay, and the rest of it." On further inspection when the bottom sills fell out, he said, "they’d actually neglected looking at any of the structural part of the car and they’d just made it look good – so that’s a big trap." Another example was a Lamborghini with a quarter-inch layer of bog over the whole car. Some projects coming into the workshop "have been badly repaired years ago when they weren’t that valuable and … those repairs are starting to rust through … a lot of those cars, they’re high performance cars that are basically unsafe," he says.

Because of the popularity and value of some cars, their parts and components are more readily available than 20-30 years ago. Paul says "it’s a changed scene because of the demand". Some cars could have a similar cost in the bodywork restoration, but a very different end value. Clients are also encouraged to be involved working on their own projects if possible.

Paul’s tips for the would-be classic car buyer? Do your homework, be careful in selecting your next purchase and it helps if you win Tattslotto!

View some of the current projects in the workshop on the HVR website here: http://www.historicvintagerestorations.com/current-projects.html

Some HVR past projects have featured in Unique Cars magazine:

- Past blast: Lancia Aurelia GT

- Past blast: 1933 MG K3 Magnette recreation

- Past blast: 1958 Alfa Giulietta Spider

- Barn find: 1967 Ferrari Dino 246GT

 

Paul Chaleyer, Historic & Vintage Restorations Paul Chaleyer, Historic & Vintage Restorations Paul Chaleyer, Historic & Vintage Restorations
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bugatti Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bugatti Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bugatti
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bugatti Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bugatti Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bugatti
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bugatti Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bugatti Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bugatti
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bugatti Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bugatti Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bugatti
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Delange Historic & Vintage Restorations: Delange Historic & Vintage Restorations: Delange
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Delange Historic & Vintage Restorations: Delange Historic & Vintage Restorations: Delange
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Delange Historic & Vintage Restorations: Delange Historic & Vintage Restorations: Delange
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Jaguar XK 120 Coupe Historic & Vintage Restorations: Jaguar XK 120 Coupe Historic & Vintage Restorations: Jaguar XK 120 Coupe
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Jaguar XK 120 Coupe Historic & Vintage Restorations: Jaguar XK 120 Coupe Historic & Vintage Restorations: Jaguar XK 120 Coupe
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Jaguar XK 120 Coupe Historic & Vintage Restorations: Jaguar XK 120 Coupe Historic & Vintage Restorations: Jaguar XK 120 Coupe
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Jaguar XK 120 Coupe Historic & Vintage Restorations: Jaguar XK 120 Coupe Historic & Vintage Restorations: Jaguar XK 120 Coupe
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Lancia Aurelia Historic & Vintage Restorations: Lancia Aurelia Historic & Vintage Restorations: Lancia Aurelia
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Lancia Aurelia Historic & Vintage Restorations: Lancia Aurelia Historic & Vintage Restorations: Lancia Aurelia
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bristol 403 Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bristol 403 Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bristol 403
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bentley Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bentley Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bentley
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bentley Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bentley Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bentley
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bentley Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bentley Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bentley
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bentley Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bentley Historic & Vintage Restorations: Bentley
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Aston Martin Historic & Vintage Restorations: Aston Martin Historic & Vintage Restorations: Aston Martin
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Aston Martin Historic & Vintage Restorations: Aston Martin Historic & Vintage Restorations: Aston Martin
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Aston Martin Historic & Vintage Restorations: Aston Martin Historic & Vintage Restorations: Aston Martin
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Aston Martin Historic & Vintage Restorations: Aston Martin Historic & Vintage Restorations: Aston Martin
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Alfa Romeo Historic & Vintage Restorations: Alfa Romeo Historic & Vintage Restorations: Alfa Romeo
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Skeleton shell Historic & Vintage Restorations: Skeleton shell Historic & Vintage Restorations: Skeleton shell
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Alfa Romeo Historic & Vintage Restorations: Alfa Romeo Historic & Vintage Restorations: Alfa Romeo
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Engine block Historic & Vintage Restorations: Engine block Historic & Vintage Restorations: Engine block
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Maserati engine Historic & Vintage Restorations: Maserati engine Historic & Vintage Restorations: Maserati engine
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Maserati engine Historic & Vintage Restorations: Maserati engine Historic & Vintage Restorations: Maserati engine
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Alfa Romeo bonnet Historic & Vintage Restorations: Alfa Romeo bonnet Historic & Vintage Restorations: Alfa Romeo bonnet
Historic & Vintage Restorations: Cafe racer Historic & Vintage Restorations: Cafe racer Historic & Vintage Restorations: Cafe racer

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