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Restorer of the Year: Saving a Peugeot 306 Cabriolet after it nearly went up in flames

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December 23, 2022
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From the pages of Practical Classics Magazine, we meet Marc McGlashan, who rescued a £300 Peugeot 306 Cabriolet after it nearly went up in flames and the Clark family, who have bought and restored a fleet of classic cars.

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.

Rescuing a £300 Peugeot 306 Cabriolet after it nearly went up in flames

Words by Craig Cheetham and Pictures by Jonathan Jacob

Peugeot 306 Cabriolet

Marc McGlashan wasn’t looking for a full restoration project when he came across his 2000 Peugeot 306 Cabriolet, offered for sale in a salvage auction. Nor was he particularly expecting one.

After all, despite only costing him £300, the bright red Peugeot didn’t look too badly damaged. It had been written off by insurers after a fire at the storage compound where it was kept, and although the 306 itself hadn’t gone up in flames, it had been close enough to the inferno for most of the plastic parts at the rear to have melted. “I guess it was very lucky, really,” said Marc. “Had the fire not been brought under control when it was, the 306 would surely have been one of the next cars to go completely up in flames.”

When he acquired the car, Liverpudlian Marc had just finished restoring a Ford Mondeo ST24 of the same era and was looking for a nice ‘easy’ project to give himself something to tinker with in his spare time. The Peugeot looked ideal. “I always thought the 306 was a great looking car, especially as a convertible, and this one looked particularly appealing in bright red.

“I thought it would be an easy project, but as is always the way, it turned out to be more complex than I first expected. If nothing else, finding new parts was hard enough – it’s amazing how difficult some 306 parts are to acquire these days, and I relied heavily on some of the excellent 306 owners groups on social media in order to find the more unusual parts, such as the high-level brake light housing incorporated into the boot lid – a convertible only component.”

Marc was also especially grateful to Peugeot parts specialists Dean Hunter and Peugeot Parts South West, who between them were able to supply a lot of new-old-stock parts in order to return the 306 to its former glory.

Peugeot 306 Cabriolet

What was supposed to be a simple project turned into Mark going over the car with a fine-toothed comb, replacing absolutely anything he could find that could be improved. The 306 Cabriolet was a great basis for this, as it was a genuine low mileage car with just 47,000 on the clock, but it had seen multiple owners and more recently had clearly not been looked after to the standard to which it was accustomed.

Marc ended up replacing most of the trim parts as well as unearthing a number of bodges. “The cooling fan was probably the worst, someone cut out an entire fan shroud from another car and somehow managed to just stuff it in, whilst there were irritating minor faults elsewhere, such as the electric windows being wired the wrong way round.”

As for the fire damage, the rear lights, back bumper and rear screen were all completely ruined thanks to the heat of the fire, so Marc had to source replacements, after which he treated the Cabriolet to a complete respray in its original Cherry Red. In order to ensure it really looked the part, he also had the wheels fully refurbished and replaced all the badges with immaculate new-old-stock items.

The interior cleaned up really well and is mostly original, but Marc also found the car needed quite a bit of mechanical work, including a new power steering pump, water pump and – for good measure – a new timing belt, which seemed a sensible precaution given the amount of work he’d put into it. He also added a deviation from standard in the form of a strut brace under the bonnet, which helps eliminate some of the scuttle shake that 306 convertibles are famous for.

With all the hard work done, Marc found himself in possession of a lovely looking car, albeit one that hadn’t seen an MoT test in over five years, so it was a bit of a nervous wait when he presented it for a test. He was absolutely gutted when the 306 failed after all his hard work. Unfortunately, it didn’t pass the first time round because of wear to a couple of suspension parts.

“I hadn’t noticed and I was absolutely gutted because I then had to wait over three weeks for another test slot, which was quite an agonising wait, when I had such a lovely looking car that I thought was ready to go.

“But it was worth it. After all, I wouldn’t have wanted to get it on the road with a known fault and now it’s finished, it must be one of the best 306 Cabriolets in the country. I love it, but more importantly so do my kids, and that means we can enjoy it as a member of the family. Between us, we can’t wait for the summer months.”

Read the full version of how Marc managed to restore his Peugeot 306 Cabriolet on the Practical Classics page.

‘Transporting our classics from Kent to Scotland’

Words by James Walshe and Pictures by Andy McCandlish

Classic cars

The final straw came in 1991 for the Clarks. They awoke at home in Kent to find their beloved 1967 Ford Corsair, which they’d restored together, wrecked by vandals. With scratches down each side and windows smashed, the car was in a sorry state. A life changing decision followed.

Andy and wife Andrea were expecting their first baby. Andy says they’d had enough. “We both agreed there was no way we were going to bring up kids into that world, so we got rid of everything, I quit my job, Andrea sold her business and we decided to move as far away as possible.”

The couple had spent their honeymoon in Scotland, so a deal was done and off they went. “We found work, built ourselves a new life and the rest is history” beams Andrea. Daughter Chantel and son Aaron were soon joined by the couple’s youngest, Kyle. The baby of the family was soon following in dad’s footsteps and tinkering with the family’s little fleet of old cars and these days, at the age of 23, has spent his career thus far working professionally in classic car restoration and repair with great success.

He’s not alone. Older brother Aaron is also mad about old cars but dad Andy says the hobby took a different kind of twist for him. “At the age of five, Aaron was diagnosed with autism, ADHD, Tourette’s and dyspraxia. It was challenging, but we all pulled together as a family and Aaron was blessed with great support, especially from other car enthusiasts here in Scotland.”

Classic cars

Aaron, now 27, says he formed an attachment to all wheeled things and began volunteering at the Grampian Transport Museum from an early age. He still works there today. “From the moment I set foot in the museum, I became curious as to how the exhibits worked. I grew up in a car family, obviously, and we paid frequent trips to the museum, but I remember gravitating towards steam engines – especially the 1914 Sentinel.”

The oldest such wagon in existence, Sentinel number 753 was made by Alley and MacLellan in Glasgow. Aaron beams when he talks about it. “There’s just something about steam!”

Sadly, the family don’t have any steam vehicles on the current fleet but – as we chat at the family’s beautifully remote and blustery hillside home – we are surrounded by a gaggle of fascinating classics, all of which have been either restored or fettled by the family in their small wooden out-house.

Aaron introduces me to brother Kyle, who explains how their dad taught him the basics of welding at the age of nine. “Dad intended to set each of us up with a car for our 17th birthdays but because I’d already started to work on cars early, I got a Morris Traveller at the age of 15!”

A few years before, Aaron had been given a Ford Popular, but says he soon realised it wasn’t for him. “It wasn’t a great example and I didn’t like the three-speed gearbox, so I ended up with a 1360 Herald. That was my first experience of working on a car.”

He did so with the more experienced Kyle and, much to the joy of mum and dad, they worked together on giving the car a new lease of life. The pair later revived a Triumph Spitfire, which needed welding, a replacement clutch and a whole new interior. “We then drove it around the coast, which was a real highlight.”

Classic cars

Aaron is a big fan of the ADO16, so it’s no surprise to learn his daily driver for the last few years has been a 1969 Austin 1100 called Norman. “It’s a great car to drive and really easy to work on. I have been learning all sorts of things from my dad and brother on how to maintain it.”

Having had an engine rebuild, plenty of bodywork and replacement Hydrolastic displacers, old Norman has served as a fine daily. However, with an almost sheepish look, Aaron confesses to that he loves a picnic table and on that basis, only a Vanden Plas will do. The dream car has been achieved with the arrival of Archie, a 1972 Vanden Plas 1300.

“It’s the smell of that luxurious cabin and, of course, those tables. It’s all about the tables!” The car is currently housed at the Grampian Transport Museum, as a recent storm blew the roof off the garage. “I won’t have Archie sitting around in the rain” admits Aaron.

There were a few more cars in the family but, in an effort to downsize, Andy and Andrea decided to sell a few. Andrea says she was particularly keen on something a bit more vintage. “We swapped our Vanden Plas DM4 limo, a Mercedes S Class and a Daimler Conquest Century for a 1928 AC Royal called ‘Dippy’, which I really love. It’s an amazing machine. It doesn’t have dampers though, so it’s a bit bouncy!”

With mum and dad retired and readily able to look after their fleet’s upkeep, it’s left to Aaron and his brother to keep maintenance up on their own cars. With Kyle working at a local vintage car restoration specialist, Aaron says he’s always happy to lend a hand.

“My skills are expanding all the time. I can do things like head gasket and fuel pump but I’m still learning with all the bigger jobs.” With unending encouragement from the Grampian Transport Museum, he says he feels lucky to be part of such a supportive family.

“We all help each other with whatever needs to be done so we can get out on the road. Fixing or restoring a car is great but driving a car afterwards is the best feeling – especially when you live in Scotland!”

Read the full version of how the Clarks gained and maintained their fleet of classic cars on the Practical Classics page.

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