Sunday, August 21, 2011

Shop update - August 2011

The summer has been quite busy and it's time for an update on what's been going on in the shop. After spending the early part of July prepping the HRG Coupe for its trip to the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, we have turned the main focus of our attention to the 1957 300SL Roadster and the 1962 Ferrari 250GT Lusso as well as several "small" projects that have come through the door. These include some minor repairs to several cars belonging to a prominent local collector as well as repairs to a 1950 Jaguar XK120 race car and installing an air conditioning system in a 1948 Jeep pick-up. The HRG has also continued to get some attention to various minor issues. The Ferrari engine is nearly fully assembled and is sitting on the engine run stand where we will fire it up and tune it. The car itself is having the brake system installed and a new fuel tank fitted. The 300SL roadster reached a major milestone when we reinstalled the body on the chassis. The car is really moving forward now. We've also put quite a bit of time into the 1956 300SL Gullwing with a new nose piece and inner wheel house being put in place. We've also torn down the engine to this car and will be taking the bare block to be cleaned before we begin reassembly. Last week we got the engine for the 1965 230SL back from the machine shop and have begun reassembly of it as well. Once it's together, we'll be able to devote more time towards getting that car completed. We expect to restart the restoration of the 1955 Gullwing in September as the owner chose to pause the project over the summer. Finally, there is the '68 GTO which is nearly ready for primer and the '80 500SL Mercedes that is awaiting a new set of exhaust manifolds. As you can see.....busy, busy, busy....which is good. In September we will be taking the HRG Coupe to the Radnor-Hunt Concours in Malvern PA. and Bill Hahn will be attending the Gullwing Group Convention in Virginia.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Something very special

For a while now we've been writing occasional updates on the progress of the restoration of the 1938 HRG Coupe. Last summer, we thought we were close to completion only to be set back by a significant engine issue. It took a fair portion of the Winter and Spring to troubleshoot, have parts custom made, installed and tested. Finally, this Summer, we've been able to bring the car to a near complete state (still waiting on the headliner). Seeing the car fully assembled with the interior in place and hearing the little Triumph four cylinder jump to life the moment you hit the starter has been a thrill for our whole team. As we've neared the home stretch on this project and are beginning to make plans with its owner to show the car around the country, it is beginning to really hit home just what a special project this has been for everyone involved. The HRG Coupe is a piece of British automotive history. It was around before the owner or any of us working on it were born. Seeing photographs of the car....this very car..when it was debuted at the Brooklands Race Track in England (black and white photo) and then seeing the completed car today brings a tremendous sense of accomplishment. The little car has survived so much to get to this point. It made it through the second world war. It traveled about the English country side until parked in a field in the early sixties. Purchased for a Shilling by its current owner in 1965 where he promptly disassembled it and boxed the parts. These were moved to the United States in 1985 where they sat for a number of years before restoration was started. The car has had a long, roundabout journey. To see it complete and being driven about is quite a rush. The most common reaction we've gotten when someone sees the car is how beautiful it is....which is usually followed by "what is it??"...but the real fun comes from watching folk's eyes light up and the smile that comes across their face when we explain what a rare piece they are looking at. Seeing a piece of history brought back to its former glory is appreciated by both car enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike. It has been an honor for our team to work on this car. Something very special indeed.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A real "United Nations" kind of day

Having cars from England, Italy, Germany and the USA in the shop is a "normal" thing for us. Having people from from around the world and around the country all stop by the shop on the same day is not as typical....but today was one of those days. First we had Bob, the English owner of the HRG Coupe stop by to check up on the car. Next, one of our neighbors stopped by with his Australian born guest for a tour. Then we had an out of state guest come in to evaluate the value of one of the Gullwing projects for a potential client. He was followed by another one of our out of state customers who came up from his home in Maryland for a visit. Along with him came a friend of his who will be borrowing his car hauler. The gentleman is an airline pilot guessed it... International Routes. Needless to say, we did a lot of entertaining today!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shhh....the cars are asleep

Sometimes we wonder what the cars are up to when we turn out the lights and leave the shop for the night. Sitting there in twilight, it looks as though they could converse among themselves. Then you think about their nationalities and wonder "Do they get along?". Do the German 'Benz's talk among each other? they whisper things about the Italian Ferrari sitting next to them? Does the Ferrari care? Does the English MG give a shout out to his brother Brit, the HRG, in the next room? What do they think of the big American '46 Chevy across the aisle? Do the Gullwings flap at night? Do the cars appreciate the new lease on life their owners are giving them with this restoration? Do the cars reflect the personality of the people that built them? which case they all have serious issues. Or perhaps they take on the characteristics of their owners. In the cartoon world this stuff happens all the time....Just what does happen when the dust settles and the lights go out? Things that make you go "Hmmmm?"

Friday, April 15, 2011

What's Old is made Like New.....then we make it Old again

In addition to restoring bodies, chassis, mechanical systems and interiors we also have to restore a car's accessories. For pre-war cars (and some post-war models) this includes various tools, jacks, hand pumps, oilers, cranks and other items. For the 1938 HRG Coupe we have accumulated a very thorough set of period correct accessories but, as can be expected, many of them are well used and in need of cleaning and repair. It is very tempting to restore these to "like new" condition however, for this car, we decided to go for a more "aged" appearance. To get the look we wanted, we first made the pieces look "new" and then treated them and rubbed them with various treatments to achive the correct patina. This picture shows the bottom and top caps of a Lucas spare light bulb holder. The cap on the left has been straightened, cleaned and polished. The same was done to the cap on the right however, the next step was to gently "age" the piece to the level we want. We're very pleased with the result and the entire kit of tools and accessories will share a similar look. For questions about the process, please feel free to send us an email at

Monday, April 4, 2011

No Fooling - Bad News Travels Fast

Today we got an email alerting us about a hoax email/posting that was going around regarding efforts to draft federal legislation to tax collector cars. It seems some folks thought it would make a dandy April Fools joke to inform the members of their car club about a New York Times article concerning the coming tax. It was a total fabrication, but in today's world of instant panic followed by instant "sharing", it soon went viral on the internet. The group that sent the original message has admitted to starting the whole thing as an innocent prank. They probably should not be surprised that it got out of control. It's easy to ask "what were they thinking?" and it's hard to know for certain how something will be received, but it's a pretty good bet that good or bad, the news will get passed on....and sooner rather than later. On a lighter note.....Spring is finally here (sort of) and it will soon be time to get those Collector Cars out of the garage. See you on the road!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Of Gullwings and things....

The iconic Mereceds-Benz 300Sl Gullwings and Roadsters have garnered a fair amount of media attention lately. Speed Channel's "Ticket to Ride" program recently broadcast a comparison between the original Gullwing and the new AMG Mercedes SLS version. While the handling and performance of the new model far exceeded the original, the concensus seemed to be that the timeless beauty of the older model was preferred hands down. The current (April 2011) issue of Keith Martin's Sports Car Marketplace magazine has a superb write-up on the various Gullwings and Roadsters that changed hands at the January auctions.....including the car that sold for $1,370,000.00 when two wealthy individuals got into a "crazy money" bidding war. The article covers the condition of the cars and indicates the amount each sold for. The prices were all over the map however, the article frequently points out that the values for a properly restored vehicle are well worth the cost of the their restoration (which is currently averaging $400,000). The "get it in, get it out" type of restoration will not realize the top dollar. The marketplace considers these cars to be "Blue Chip" collectibles. As restorers of these cars, we follow these trends closely. Restoring these vehicles is a challenging undertaking and we currently have three of them under our roof.....much work lies ahead however, when complete, we have every confidence that our cars will bring a smile to the faces of their owners...and a jingle in their pocket when it comes time to sell. For more information about our various projects please visit our web site and