From the pages of Practical Classics Magazine, we meet the five finalists who have been chosen for their Restorer of the Year competition, in partnership with Adrian Flux.
The winner will go forward to meet the public at the Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration Show at the NEC in Birmingham on 24th-26th March, where they will be awarded the Golden Spanner. The method for selection was rigorous.
First the top ten were nominated by Practical Classics readers and Adrian Flux insurance customers. Then, an expert panel including PC editor Danny Hopkins and those at Adrian Flux had the unenviable task of choosing the final five.
The top five, in no particular order, is:
- Steve Brown and his SIII Land Rover
- Ford Capri Ghia restored by Steve Brandreth
- Jonathan Moss and his Porsche 914/6
- Triumph 13/60 convertible rebuilt by Mick Clark
- Escort RS2000 revived by Andrew Morgan
The top five are profiled below.
Have a look and cast your final vote; you choose the winner. Remember: Practical Classics are always on the hunt for top home restorations. If you have restored a car yourself or resto-modified it, then get in touch with Practical Classics. Who knows, next year it could be you!
One of the best Land Rover restorations you’ll ever see
In March 2014, while looking for an old British motorbike to restore, Steve Brown stumbled across an immensely forlorn-looking Land Rover Series 3 and, glancing across at his wife, received the firm instruction “don’t you dare!” But eight years on, that very same pile of scrap is now a true work of art as Steve opens his garage door and rolls it out into the sunshine. It looks resplendent in stunning bronze green, the underside just as perfect as the top.
It is arguably better than the day it left the factory. If you’ve been following Practical Classics’ Rebel with a Cause project, then Steve’s name will likely be familiar to you. Steve is the perfectionist genius who, in a matter of just a few days, prepared and painted that fibreglass shell to an amazing standard in time for it to be unveiled and reassembled live at the Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration Show at the NEC in March.
The finish on the Rebel is amazing, but this Land Rover, completed to Steve’s own exacting standards without the pressure of a curtain call just weeks after taking the project on, exemplifies exactly what he can really do given the opportunity.
Steve works for HB Body, who manufacture and supply a wide range of automotive refinishing products, as a technical manager – answering paint shop and private individuals’ questions about how to get the best from his company’s products. So he can talk the talk, but boy is this Land Rover testament to the fact that he can walk the walk as well.
The Ford Capri MkIII that came home
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.
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.
Read the full version of how Steve managed to reconstruct his Capri, apart from those original dents he made 30 years ago.
Me and my Porsche 914 restoration
Jonathan Moss had owned a couple of four-cylinder Porsches before, a 944 and another 914, but wanted a six-cylinder. However, he felt these lacked the character he’d become accustomed to with Beetle ownership. He didn’t want a 911 as they were regarded as tricky, so spent four years upgrading a 914, but his wife never liked this car as it was too firm and too loud.
Then in 2014, his car was at the Amberley Museum classic car picnic, and a chap approached him as he had a 914 project for sale, which he bought, but it certainly was a project! The shell’s rotten metal had been replaced, but then stood on its side acting as the sidewall of a car port, the bonnet, boot and doors in the garden and interior in the attic. It took all day to find everything.
Things didn’t get going for five years until Moss retired. Meanwhile, he’d found a 1971 2.4 T spec 911 engine, it was ten years before he finally built that. Stripping it down, he had the crank reground and the oil bypass modification done. The pistons just needed new rings, but the barrels weren’t in good shape so new ones had to be purchased as well as an upgraded oil pump.
Converting a Triumph Herald from ‘rust bucket’ to a masterpiece
Mick Clark may be a Ford man through and through – he’s owned countless blue oval badged motors and worked for the global giant – but a few years ago he decided to restore a Triumph. In his words: “I was looking for a cheap classic my student son could enjoy during the holidays, and that I could improve while he was away at university.”
He found the car locally on the Isle of Sheppey ten years ago; the fact it was a convertible was simply a bonus. He thought it wasn’t too bad and would serve through the coming summer before needing work. In a moment of revelation familiar to many restorers, Mick found it to be “a lot more rotten than I’d hoped.” Never a man to do half a job, the decision was quickly taken that the body would need to be removed from the chassis to do a “proper job.”
It took another five years for Mick to gradually start on the restoration in 2017, repairing the chassis after stripping the car down. Front outriggers were replaced along with several welded repairs to other areas of the chassis, notably around the diff mounting points. Care was taken never to cut away too much metal at once, hoping the chassis would retain its original shape and allow the body to fit back as accurately as it had before.
Now the car is finished, Mick and his wife are often out in it, either at cricket or picnicking at National Trust properties, where the little Triumph blends well with the stately backgrounds.
The Ford Escort MkI RS2000 that was restored by grandfather and grandson
‘Grandad’s car’ normally brings to mind a dusty Austin A30 or a staid Rover – but when grandad worked for Colin Chapman, you can bet something more exciting was stashed in his garage. Morgan Langdon is therefore a very lucky grandson, having regular rides in a spotlessly restored 1974 Ford Escort MkI RS2000.
But while Morgan has helped out with the project along the way, the car’s journey from wreck to resto started before he was even born – and involved grandfather, Andrew Morgan, in more drama than the average restoration. Along the way, it’s cemented a strong relationship between the two of them.
It was a good time to buy an RS2000, since the industry devoted to fast Ford replicas (and dodgy replicants) had not yet taken off, nor had the prices. The car has all the correct body features, chassis plates and stampings and is in every way the real deal. In a surprising twist, the original owner spotted it, freshly restored, returning from a rolling road session on the back of a trailer, and followed it back to Andrew’s house for a chat!
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