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Restorer of the Year:
Restorer of the Year: The magical story of Steve’s Ford Capri returning to him after 30 years and 1972 Triumph 2000 MkII star from eBay

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March 17, 2022
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It may only be the first edition of this year’s Practical Classics’ Restorer of the Year award, but we’ve already been treated to two amazing stories that will be hard to beat. 

As a specialist classic car insurance broker, we love seeing old cars being restored to their former glory, which is why we’ve linked up with Practical Classics to bring you two fantastic stories each month for you to digest and take as inspiration for your own classic rebuilds. 

The Ford Capri MkIII that came home

Words by Craig Cheetham

Ford Capri

Photo by Jonathan Jacob

It’s a feeling that many can relate to. One day, we’re young, free and single; the next we’re burdened with nappies and wet wipes, car seats and the inability to leave the house without an hour’s prep time. Welcome to the world of having very small children. A world that, for Steve Brandreth, led to him parting with his cherished Ford Capri MkIII in 1990 and replacing it with an altogether more sensible and more frugal Escort Estate.

Steve wouldn’t be the only person to buy himself a Ford Capri 28 years after selling his last one, in a bid to relive the pleasure and enjoyment that the car brought to his younger self. There aren’t many people, however, who end up with the very same car they parted with almost three decades previously.

Having sold his Capri after the birth of his first son, Steve had finally decided it was time to source a replacement. While browsing the small ads one evening in 2018, Steve stumbled upon a gold Capri 3.0 Ghia for sale in Northern Ireland. It was only when Steve looked into it further that he discovered the car for sale just across the Irish Sea from his Cheshire home was DLG 444S, the very same Capri 3.0 Ghia automatic he had given up because its prodigious thirst and general impracticality didn’t sit very well with the pressures of having a new baby back in 1990.

Ford Capri

Photo by Jonathan Jacob

Just a week later, Steve found himself on a flight to Belfast, ostensibly to “go and have a look” at a car he’d not seen for 28 years. In reality, he knew exactly what was going to happen. “As soon as I bought the plane ticket, I knew that I’d be buying it,” he said. “The personal and emotional attachment was far too great for me to walk away, even if the car turned out to be a complete shed or to be more expensive than it should have been for its condition. 

“Of course, it turned out to be both. But this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a car that I absolutely adored the first time I owned it and genuinely shed a tear about when I waved it down the road in 1990, never expecting to see it again.”

At first glance the Capri really didn’t look too bad. Granted, it was a little tired around the edges, but nothing that some careful cosmetic fettling wouldn’t put right. It was only when Steve got further into the project that he realised that he actually had a full restoration on the cards. 

Ford Capri

Photo by Jonathan Jacob

“When it came to restoring the car, I discovered that very same small amount of damage I had caused three decades earlier was still there, and couldn’t decide whether I should restore it or leave it. But in the end, I left it there as it’s very much part of my own story with the car and one of the things from my first period of ownership that remained with the car throughout its life thereafter.”

The Capri was finally completed in the summer of 2021, with Steve and a few of his colleagues putting in the final hours to get the finished project across the line between jobs at work. But the most emotional part of the restoration came right at the end. Having got the car road legal and through an MOT test, the very first person other than Steve to jump behind the wheel was his son, Graham, by now aged 30. “The last time he travelled in the car, he pooped himself,” laughed Steve. “I almost did the same on my first trip out in it as a passenger after all that hard work!”

To read the full version of how Steve managed to reconstruct his Capri, apart from those original dents he made 30 years ago, visit the Practical Classics page

The 1972 Triumph 2000 MkII star find from eBay

Photo by Jonathan Jacob

This 1972 Triumph 2000 MkII was featured in Practical Classics in 2018 as ‘Star Find’ of the month, among the Rust in Peace pages. Barry Hoper saw it for sale on eBay soon after and this is when his restoration story starts. 

Me and my friend – fellow classic car enthusiast Lee Robinson – decided to snap it up for a grand! Having rescued it from the barn near Loughborough, we brought it back to where we live, in the Aberdeenshire town of Insch. 

As every restorer knows, it’s always good to know what you’re dealing with before you start, so we delved into the car’s history and found it to have been very well loved. Its first owner was an Alec McKee of St Albans in Hertfordshire, who kept the car in excellent order until passing it on to his niece in 1984. She enjoyed it for a decade, but by 1994 the car had become a bit shabby. It was at that point, for whatever reason, it ended up being put into storage in the barn.

Photo by Jonathan Jacob

Lee and I stripped the car completely and decided to tackle the engine first. It was completely seized, but after several weeks of the bores being filled with diesel, we got things moving and removed the unit. Mechanically, reviving the Triumph turned out to be a fairly trouble-free process.

There was a myriad of small dents all over the body, which got filled carefully and rubbed down. We then gave the car three coats of primer and resprayed in its original colour. Both windscreen and rear screen would need replacing, as they’d been damaged while in storage. Along with a new rear light lens, we had sourced the new glazing from a scrapyard in Doncaster and had picked them up on our way back to Scotland some months before.

To read the full version of how this 1972 Triumph 2000 MkII was restored, visit the Practical Classics page

Practical Classics: Perfect reading for classic car and restoration enthusiasts

The Restorer of the Year competition is one you certainly won’t want to miss. Each magazine edition features two unique stories on how classic car owners have managed to restore beautiful classics they have found, to working order. The winner will be chosen by the readers and will be revealed at the NEC’s Classic Car & Restoration Show in March 2023.

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