Richard Hammond on how he restored this beautiful 1952 Alvis TA21 drophead

Recent from the pages of Sensible Classics Journal, we meet TV’s Richard Hammond, who together with the assistance of some associates has restored a surprising 1952 Alvis TA21 drophead and Keith Jones, who purchased and restored a Harvest Gold Cavalier Coupe GLS, identical to his dad used to personal.  

As a specialist basic automotive insurance coverage dealer, we love seeing previous automobiles being restored to their former glory, which is why we’ve linked up with Sensible Classics to carry you two unbelievable tales every month so that you can digest and take as inspiration in your personal basic rebuilds. 

Restoring a 1952 Alvis TA21 drophead with Richard Hammond

Phrases by Danny Hopkins and Footage by Matt Howell  

1952 Alvis TA21

On the outskirts of Hereford sits a faceless, humble unit. Faceless save for a reputation, and humble solely in look, the unit is house to the desires and aspirations of a household restoration enterprise and one of many planet’s most recognisable ‘automotive guys’.

“It’s nonetheless all a bit new,” says Richard Hammond as he opens the door to disclose the within house of The Smallest Cog, the skilled workshop he has created with working companion Neil Greenhouse. “However my coronary heart has all the time been on this. My grandad was a coachbuilder. 

“He began as a cupboard maker, went to Mulliners – who, by the way, made the our bodies for the saloon model of the TA21 – and ended up at Jensen Motors via to 1974, so craftsmanship has all the time been essential to me. Restoration actually is in my blood, and my ardour has all the time been with classics.”

As Richard introduces me to the group – the Cogs – I discover a whiff of fatigue. “Sure, properly, the chaps had been up till 4am getting the automotive completed,” says Richard as he introduces me to enterprise companion Neil Greenhouse, Neil’s son Anthony and brother Andrew. Richard himself was additionally readily available into the small hours in readiness for our go to as he was ‘sweeping up.’

The impression you get is the ache is actual… and the fervour… and for that matter, the teamwork. “It’s a cooperative actually,” says Neil. The standard the Cogs Cooperative produces is actually actual, as Richard and Neil pull again the duvet to disclose a surprising 1952 Alvis TA21 drophead. This can be a automotive that has been topic to a full however sympathetic restoration having solely are available in to be ‘frivolously recommissioned’ in November 2022.

“It belongs to a buddy of mine, Michael Fenton, and I’ve identified the automotive for many years,” says Neil. “I used to be the final particular person to work on it earlier than Michael parked it up in a barn in 2001. So, at this time would be the first time this TA has been on the highway, underneath its personal energy, for 22 years.”

No false jeopardy right here then, I can see it of their eyes. All of that is topic to visible report by a TV movie crew, who’re seemingly ever current. There’s little question the present they produce, Richard Hammond’s Workshop, has galvanised the method and progress of the restoration work undertaken by the Cogs, however that doesn’t take away from the truth that the workshop is a working house and the blokes have struggled arduous to ensure the Alvis is prepared for our arrival.

Richard Hammond

Anybody who has ever restored a basic is aware of, it’s all the time going to be a tortuous journey. “As with most restoration work on automobiles like this, the bodywork has taken up a variety of our time,” Neil explains, “It had sustained harm on the driving force’s facet and was a bit off sq. so we determined to take the physique aside. And naturally that meant, as we seemed into it, we stored discovering nasty little issues.”

“We ‘shot-blasted’ the panels and that exposed the worst of it,” says brother Andrew. “The wings wanted a variety of work. The automotive had beforehand acquired a ‘Seventies’ restoration and there was a variety of diversified steel in there all rod welded, badly, collectively. Half made after which crammed excessive. We didn’t actually estimate for that. The spare wheel holder was glass fibre over layers and layers of previous steel. It was like a patchwork quilt.”

So, the group needed to remake a variety of the panel work, together with use of the workshop’s English wheel… a lot for a light-weight recommission. “Anthony had a nightmare with the engine, too,” says Richard, “All of the proprietor initially needed was a refresh and improve to destructive earth, digital ignition, electrical fan and alternator.”

“Certainly it was a nightmare,” says the youthful Greenhouse, with a barely haunted look. “It had are available in simply to be put again on the highway and the engine was operating when it was laid up in 2001. So, after I crammed it with water to see if it may run once more, and the water instantly ended up on the ground, I feared the worst. The core plugs had popped, so I used to be anticipating a cracked block, however we acquired away with a partial rebuild. The top nonetheless wanted to be laser welded as a result of there have been cracks within the valve seats however we may have been taking a look at a terminal scenario.”

With that achieved it was time for Anthony and Andrew to use the paint within the Smallest Cog’s twenty first century cubicles. “It’s a bit higher than our previous place,” says Neil. “It was silver when it got here in, however we satisfied proprietor Michael to go for a two-tone color scheme… they’re each Mercedes tones, however don’t choose it but as a result of we haven’t lower it again!” The paint end seems glorious.

“We took all the panels off to color them in fact,” provides Andrew, ?Together with the doorways. Which was a nightmare to re-hang, significantly the driving force’s facet, due to the rectified accident harm. It took Neil a number of days to get it proper.”

“Ultimately I needed to manipulate the best way the brass door hinges sat and opened, to make the door sit on the correct plain” Neil defined.

The panel gaps look bang on now. From each angle it’s a superb automotive however one which looks like a ‘consumer’ in addition to a present pony. “It was drained previous wiring that took it off the highway in 2001, so we have now fitted an entire new loom, upgraded for the alternator and the opposite bits. Autosparks made it, it’s nice that we have now an trade round us to make this new package for previous automobiles.” 

It is usually one other signal this automotive is restored to be used… will probably be pushed and received’t find yourself a concours queen. Which is pretty much as good a cue for a drive as I’ve ever heard.

Richard is stuffed with reward, “Michael has acquired a unbelievable job for his cash. It’s a coachbuilt automotive and comes with all in constructed expense that coachbuilt automobiles have. Michael can also be a buddy of Neil’s, so it’s had an additional aspect. It’s been an journey and it has been nice watching the blokes take it on.”

A 4 o’clock within the morning end doesn’t take away from the plain delight the Cogs really feel for the automotive they’ve revived. Proof that regardless of the professionalism and the enterprise facet of issues, all of them are fanatics at coronary heart, with soul.

Learn the complete model of how this 1952 Alvis TA21 dropheead was restored on the Sensible Classics web page.

Finding and duplicating my dad’s beloved Harvest Gold Cavalier Coupe GLS

Phrases Footage by Danny Hopkins

Harvest Gold Cavalier Coupe GLS

Like many people, my story begins with my dad. He purchased a Harvest Gold Cavalier Coupé GLS again in 1976, and I’ve been on the hunt for one since I handed my driving take a look at in 1995. That included mounting a nationwide hunt to search out my dad’s precise automotive. 

The search sadly yielded a response from the breaker who, because it seems, crushed it in 1992. So, I moved on to plan B, to search out one identical to my dad’s.

It solely took about an hour! Simply after discovering out in regards to the demise of father’s automotive, I acquired a message from a bloke on one of many Fb teams I had been looking out via, asking if I needed to purchase his automotive. It was a Harvest Gold Cav Coupé auto, (not handbook, sadly), however I nonetheless stated I might have it. 

Two days later it was delivered to my buddy Steve Horton’s workshop from Leeds on a trailer. It wanted a variety of work… I imply lots. From entrance to again I needed to exchange the decrease entrance valance, entrance flinches, battery tray, entrance chassis legs, A-post bottoms, jacking factors, sills, chassis rails on the again, internal sills, wheelarches (in three sections on one facet, 4 on the opposite), the underside of the rear scuttle, rear corners, new bonnet, new boot and… the whole roof panel.

Harvest Gold Cavalier Coupe GLS

It had a horrible Eighties sunroof that had sunk down, so I discovered a brand new roof panel and welded it on, having rigorously drilled out the unique spot welds (early Cav roofs had been all spot welded). I’m a self-taught welder and the bodywork took me and my MIG twelve months of strong graft.

Oh, and I needed to supply physique panels from world wide – I went via 4 bonnets till I discovered one which was adequate, and I rejected two units of wings. It was like a full-time job, to go along with my different full-time job working for JLH, Jonathon Heap in Southam.

I then painted the shell myself, turning my shed right into a sales space with all the proper PPE and air flow package. I took every part again to reveal steel, epoxied and stone chipped beneath, seam sealed all over the place and spent ages readying it for prime coats. I panel- gapped all of it on the automotive, then utilized the bottom coat and lacquer. 

As soon as the shell was sound and painted I re-did the whole suspension, which was shot blasted and epoxied, given new bushes and lowered by 60mm. Then I pulled the engine aside and started the method of refurbishing and changing every part. I serviced the auto ’field and it was good… I discovered the seats in Leek, the door playing cards in Wales and the binnacle, carpets and parcel trays got here from numerous mates.

Steve and I fitted the engine and field, which went in a deal with. It was all good – other than the ‘oh, no’ second when it was delivered, all of it went to plan… Steve was anticipating me to do it fairly shortly and get it on the highway, however I’m a little bit of a perfectionist so it took two years of graft.

It was very nerve-wracking beginning it up. It wouldn’t begin as a result of the dizzy was 180 levels out – however then it ticked over superbly. As soon as we topped it up with ATF it went like a dream. It was very emotional – I can see why the previous man beloved his.

Learn the complete model of how Keith managed to find and restore his Harvest Gold Cavalier Coupe GLS on the Sensible Classics web page.