Restoration philosophy

The restoration of a motorcar is a complex business, involving a wide range of skills and expertise. There are also a number of conflicting criteria which may add to the complexity. The term ‘Restoration’ can involve some or all of the following activities:

Preservation or Conservation
Restoration
Reproduction
Reconstruction

If the car is seen to be historically significant Preservation or Conservation is generally the order of the day. This may entail the preservation of the car in its present condition, or the preservation of the design and concept of the car being representative of its condition when it was originally built. These aims may be at odds with one other.

With a few notable exceptions a motorcar is designed originally as a form of transportation, doing this with a modicum of efficiency and, usually, comfort. Being a moving mechanism parts will ultimately wear out and maybe break. In order to return the car to good or reasonable working order so that it may still function as intended it is necessary to either repair or replace these parts, or undertake a substantial or total reconstruction of a significant part of the car.

When the cars were everyday transport major parts of the car might be renewed, such as axles, chassis members and engines. Many cars were re-bodied at the time. Today there are many debates about the nature of restoration and how far this process should go. Some restored cars are seen to be in better condition in some respects than when they left the factory and might be considered ‘over restored’. Purists will argue long and hard about the authenticity of a particular car and its condition. Modification of or a departure from the original design can be seen as a retrograde step.

At Fiennes Restoration we see our primary objective as being the return of a car to its correct working condition without detracting from its authenticity. Reliability and safety are prime considerations in this process. Where parts are worn or damaged repair or renewal is seen to be a necessity. The coachwork may often require major reconstruction rather than restoration. In the interests of long term preservation it is often necessary to renew both the body structure – usually timber framing – and the metal paneling. Wherever possible the body is reconstructed following the original design. However with the benefit of hindsight it is often possible to incorporate improvements to the structure without detracting from the design if a weakness is apparent.

If the interior, particularly in the case of closed coachwork, has not deteriorated too far, preservation and ‘light’ restoration may be sufficient. However, in the majority of cases involving coachwork restoration carpets, hoods and headlining at least will require renewal. As these may well have been renewed in the past the exact detail may have been lost . In this situation the skill and experience of the coach-trimmer is required to reproduce these details in the style of both the period and that of the original Coach-builder.