Article Written by Ian Kilbride.
Over recent years, I have taken to car restoration as a hobby. For me, this is just one element of being a petrol head, along with doing the occasional day of track racing. But as time goes by, I realise that car restoration actually says more about my personal values, my passions, my history and my aspirations for the future. I don’t express myself through classic cars, but they do speak to me. I feel a sense of pride in their restoration and somehow believe that I am doing them justice and helping them become ‘modern classics’. I am also driven by a desire to preserve what I have built up for future generations.
All the cars I have restored reflect a particular period in my life, from memories of squeezing into the back of a family car, to viewing hand-made British classics close-up, (but never owning them), to being literally blown away by some of the incredible German automotive engineering and design that I managed to acquire in my earlier days as a stock-broker and businessman. While acknowledging the modern marvels of contemporary automotive engineering, there is something visceral, connected and aesthetically pleasing about classic cars that is worth appreciating and preserving.
Yet, frankly, some of the cars I have restored are more than challenging. My old Citroen Palais DS remains for me one of the most unusual and legendary cars ever designed and is engineered in a way that only the French can. Drive it at anything over 80km per hour, however, and the wind noise is enough to challenge even the late great Edith Piaf! Then there’s the most beautiful thing to ever to be manufactured in the English Midlands, (or certainly West Bromwich), the Jensen Interceptor. This legendary car broke some much new ground in design and engineering that it stands head and shoulders above all other British grand touring cars. The epically long bonnet, the thunderous sound of the 7,2 litre Chrysler engine and a rear window that belongs more in the Louvre rather than a garage.
But here’s the rub with the Jensen Interceptor and so many other classic cars, they were a product of their generation and in reality require more love and attention than a juvenile delinquent.
This is where values come in. While there is little room for Luddites in today’s technologically sophisticated world, the discipline of classic car restoration remind one good personal values, ethics and patience are cardinal to long-term success.