by Tony 'Tosh' Brooks
Recently my good friend and popular admin, Mike Peake, was asking my advice on what to do with the boot lid on his 1970 Triumph Herald “Poppy”, as it had several blisters and marks, as well as the paint was faded and had been burned through in several places where he’d tried to polish it up with a machine polisher.
Mike, Simon Stock Yeardon and myself were having a good look at the boot lid at our recent group meet at Coventry Transport Museum and decided the only thing to do would be to strip it back down to bare metal. There were several layers of paint on it and with the way it had shrunk and blistered, it would be impossible to just sand and feather out all the imperfections and get a decent finish, especially as he intended to do the job in his garage using rattle cans. (Aerosol spray paint).
As Simon and myself tried to explain the process to Mike we could clearly see his eyes glazing over and the colour dropping out if his face! I’m not sure whether this was because he wasn’t really taking in what we were telling him, or whether he was processing the cost of all the materials he would need to do his lovely Poppy justice!
I’ve decided since that it couldn’t possibly be the financial implications, as Poppy is his pride and joy and no expense would be spared to make her beautiful again. So it must just be the fact that it was difficult for a novice to take in everything we told him. By the time we got to the finishing point, he had probably forgotten what we told him to start with!
Fortunately I’ve had to do exactly the same job on the bonnet and boot lid of my 1961 Mk2 Zephyr this week, so I thought I’d take advantage and do a sort of picture story for Mike and anyone else who has a restoration project on the go, with little or no experience of the bodywork process. I hope it helps you out and at least gives you an idea of the work and materials involved, up to the point of applying the primer and top coats.
Obviously the method of applying the primers and top coats will depend on the facilities and equipment you have available, whether you intend using rattle cans or a compressor and spray guns etc so no real point in me going into that for now.
So my Zephyr is a very solid and straight car which has had lots of bodywork already started before bought it. Being a bodyman obviously i found that most of the work was well below par, with terrible welding repairs to the rear doors and although the roof had been taken down to bare metal and treated with a grey primer, it still had a couple of shallow dents and obvious marks and scratches all over it. The doors will need to be stripped of the welded panels and new door skins fitted and the roof will be sanded right back again and any issues dealt with when it’s bare.
The bonnet and boot lid had a total of ten coats of paints and primers on them. They we chipped scratched and had some micro blistering, so the only way to do a decent job would be to strip them to bare metal.
I had already tried using paint stripper on the front wings of the car. Proper proffesional paint stripper, supposedly for use on vehicle paints, which was toatlly useless. It lifts the first softer coat off but didn’t even touch the coats underneath, even after several applications.
Due to recent EU health and safety laws, most paint stripper has had all the nasty ingredients removed, as they are corrosive or harmful to health. Unfortunately those ingredients make paint stripper what it is and without them, they are all pretty much useless on all but the softest paint finishes.
Apart from sending the panels away to a media blasting company, which is very expensive and unless they use the correct materials and have an operative that knows what they are doing, also risks the panels getting warped in the process, there is very little option but to strip using stripping discs, attached to an angle grinder.
You could spend hours and hours sanding the paint layers off with an electric or air sander, but you will use loads of sanding discs and it takes forever, so the stripping discs, although expensive at around £5 each are much better. Still not quick or easy, just “quicker” and “easier”.
When using the grinder, which tends to spin much faster than a standard sander, you must try and keep the stripping disc flat to the surface and keep it moving all the time.
Don’t gouge it at an angle and don’t stop in the same spot or you will badly damage the surface of the metal and leave deep scratches or cuts which will require filling back in after.
Don’t worry about getting every last bit of paint off with the stripping discs, as you will be sanding the whole surface off afterwards anyway and the bits left on will sand down relatively easily. It’s better to leave some of the original red oxide primer on and sand it down later rather than taking too much of the metal surface down with the grinder.
So once you have stripped off as much of the paint as you can with the stripping discs on the ginder, you need to go over the whole surface with a the sander. I use an 80 grit sanding disc to start with, which is rough enough to take off any remaining paint and primer, as well as sanding out any scratches or marks left by the grinder, but not too rough as to damage the bare metal.
I was fortunate that my panels didn’t have any sign of rust, or rusty scabs etc. If you are not so lucky and find rust, now would be a good time to deal with it. Depending on how bad it is, you will need to either cut it out and weld in new metal, or lead any small holes. Or if it’s just surface rust then treat with a suitable rust converter or rust inhibitor.
I was however plagued with small dents on the boot lid. So with the surface fully sanded it’s a good time to highlight and dents which should be easy to see on te sanded panels. I hammered out any dents that i could get to from behind but unfortunately most were behind the strengthening bars so would just have to be filled and sanded.
It was so cold at the time of doing these panels that the filler was taking forever to go off, so this is about as far as I got with them, but as mentioned earlier the final processes will depend on how you will be applying the paint coats.
The filler will be sanded off the boot lid and a spray filler coat applied. This will be sanded back along with the whole panel using a finer (180 grit) sanding disc, before applying an etch primer coat.
The etch primer is not sanded and when it’s dry I will apply two or three coats of high build primer before wet flatting and applying the top coats.
I hope this has been useful to you Mike, and to anyone else. I will update this if anyone is interested when i get to the finish coats but obviously mine will be painted all at once as I’m doing the whole car and not just individual panels.
It’s not easy, it’s not quick and it’s not cheap but very rewarding when you get it right!
Have fun. All the best
Tony Tosh Brooks
by Tony "Tosh" Brooks
I thought I’d put pen to paper for your entertainment on a cold winters evening.
The following account is fictitious, it has never happened and any resemblance to any persons living or dead is totally coincidental!
I’m sure anyone who has ever owned or worked in a vehicle bodyshop will be able to relate to at least some part of my totally fictional account of why most car restorers/painters/mechanics, despite usually being happy, generous and helpful people, never seem to have many long term friends.....
‘Twas a crisp winter’s morning in deepest darkest South Yorkshire. The birds were singing and there was a distinct smell of pigs in the air. All was quiet and as the kettle clicked to the boil, I made a coffee and sat in the big leather chair my mother-in-law gave me, trying to decide whether to just go back home and crawl back into bed or add a fourth layer of clothing, in the hope to keep warm enough to actually start some work on my beloved classic cars. I don’t do work for “customers”, as a business, it’s just a “hobby” gone wrong. I only work on my own collection of classics, bought between myself, my much aggrieved wife and my brother but usually during the week I work alone.
At least this way, it doesn’t feel like work and we have no-one else to answer to, or anyone else’s time scale and budget to follow. So i’m sat there in the quiet, thinking about how lucky I am to be in this position, until the silence was broken by the skid of a handbrake being pulled slightly too hard to a stop and the slam of car’s front door, just outside my toybox.
“ Hey Tosh, not seen you for a while, how you doing, how’s the world of classic cars going?”
Hiya mate, good to see you. It’s going great thanks, not earning any money at it but it pays the bills and at least i’m doing what I enjoy and don’t have to sit in an office or work in a factory. How’s things with you, hope the family are well. It’s about time we went out for dinner again, not been out for a while. Do you want a coffee, kettle’s just boiled?
“ Yes please mate, one sugar. Yeah definitely mate, i’d love to, my missus keeps saying she doesn’t see enough you and your lass, we’ll sort something out before Christmas. I’ve been seeing some cracking jobs coming out of your place, you seem to do a great job pal, it must be brilliant having somewhere like this”.
It is mate, it’s ace. No pressure, no hassle and playing with my cars all day. What more would you want? Anyway, what you doing driving a “classic?” I didn’t know you had an old Austin A35, are you going for the rat look, like?
“No mate, that’s what i’ve come to see you about. I’ve just bought it, it’s your fault, you got me looking at classics! It’s a bit raggy round the edges but it’s solid enough. Just needs a couple of wings swapping but they are bolt on so no problem. I reckon you could make it look as good as new in no time mate”
Well I don’t really do other people’s cars, I only do my own. I don’t really have the time or the inclination to take work on, i’m busy enough as it is. I suppose seeing as it’s you, i’ll help you out all I can. What you got in mind?
“I haven’t got much cash to spend on it but it’s such a good car I think it’s worth doing up and i’d like to come along to some shows with you next year. It looks like you have a laugh. I’ve been after one for ages and when it came up I couldn’t resist. Our lass loves bright yellow, so I think it would be a lot better than the blue. I’ve found some front wings and it might just need the odd patch welding up cos I think there’s some filler in the bottom of the doors and sills.”
What about all the micro blisters on the roof and the filler in the rear wings and rear panel though mate? There’s only one way to get rid of that and that’s to completely strip all the paint off down to bare metal. The doors are dented too and all the seals and wing fillers need replacing. It’s a lot of work to do a decent job mate.
“I’m not bothered about it being a proper showroom job, I just want it to look nice. It can’t look much worse than it does now eh? Just straighten it up, get rid of the rusty bits and make it all one colour. As long as it’s nice and shiny and doesn’t have all that blistering on the top panels, it will be great once the new wings are on. They’re only second hand wings by the way. One’s green and one’s orange but the don’t look bad for the money.”
Mate, seriously, to do all that including changing the colour i’d probably have around 250 to 300 hours in it. The doors, bonnet and boot have to come off. The engine has to come out to do the engine bay. It’s tons of work mate.
“Well what do you charge per hour?”
I don’t mate. As I said don’t do customers work I only do my own so I don’t really have a hourly rate. If you went to a “proper” car restorer, they quote between £50 and £75 per hour labour! Obviously I wouldn’t be quoting you anywhere near that, you’re my mate. What if we said £10 per hour?
“What’s that work out at mate, as I said I haven’t got too much cash?”
Well to do an half decent colour change job with pretty much a bare metal preparation and swapping the wings you’re looking between 250 and 300 hours so even at proper mates rates you’re looking £2500 and £3000.
“Behave mate I paid less than that for the car!”
Fair enough mate, it does sound a lot. I tell you what. You have the next few weeks off work, come down here every day and help me strip and prep the car and we’ll get it done between us and it wont cost you half as much. Hopefully we’ll get it done in less than three weeks.
“I would do mate but i’ve got to work. I can’t afford to take the time off, my missus would go mad if I was off doing my car instead of earning. I’ve got a mortgage to pay and kids to feed you know”
Ha, ha, I know what you mean mate, so have I. Ok I suppose I could just do odd bits and bobs in between my other jobs and you could come down at weekends and give me a hand. I’d have to have some materials though. I can’t afford to use all my stuff on freebie jobs, it costs a fortune you know. So can you bring me this lot and i’ll crack on with your car whenever I can get on it.
80 grit sanding discs
240 grit sanding discs
Paint stripping pads
5 ltrs paint stripper
A couple of paint stripping scrapers
40 grit flappy grinding discs
60 grit flappy grinding discs
1mm slitting cutting discs
2” masking tape
1” masking tape
Tin sheet for patch welding repairs
Wet flatting Paper
Anti Silicone degreaser
General purpose cleaning wipes
Paper spraying over-alls
Spray mask filters
1200 wet colour sand flatting paper
1500 wet colour sand flatting paper
Farecla G3 polishing compound
Farecla fine finish compound
Machine polishing mop head
Machine compound mop head
Car wash and wax
Quality hand car wax
Vinyl Cleaner etc........
Then we’ll have a chat about the top coat colours
“Crikey mate, what’s that lot gonna cost, I bet you’re talking quite a few hundred quid there. I heard how much Mike Peake had to spend on his polishing kit, so I know for a fact that I can’t afford all that”
Oh right, sorry mate, it does sound rather a lot. Ok i’ll try and do it without using any materials.
Would you be ok to take care of the unit and electric costs though because my unit and electric costs around £150 week, and that’s before I even open the doors. Thank goodness i’ve got a decent landlord who doesn’t rip me off, or it would be a lot more. It also costs me at least a fiver a day in fuel just to get here. As long as you’ll take care of those expenses, lets say a grand or so for the duration of the job. I reckon i’d be able to sort you out.
“I’m not right happy about spending all that just on fee’s and you getting here mate. Is there any way we can get the costs down a bit?”
We can have a go later but we haven’t even talked about what you actually want to paint it in yet. You need to bear in mind that I don’t have any fancy heated or climate controlled spray booths here. I have a £50 plastic gazebo party tent in a dusty scruffy old farm barn and I use a cheap nasty spray gun and compressor that quite frankly a professional painter would refuse to use. The lighting is terrible and there is no heating at all.
“So how come all the cars that i’ve seen come out look great and have quite a professional looking finish?”
The only way I can get round that is by using really expensive top quality finishes like two pack or two pack clear coat over base coat. The gun finishes are by no means perfect. There are flies, spiders legs, dust, orange peel and runs due to the poor gun pattern, bad lighting and insufficient air pressure but I can usually get away with it because I spend hours wet flatting and polishing the finish later. I also spend a long time and a hell of a lot of money on preparation beforehand. There’s no way round it, it’s just hard graft.
“Yeah but that two pack stuff is a fortune. I was quoted £60 a litre at one place. What I haven’t told you yet is I managed to find some Synthetic enamel at just £9 a litre, so I saved a few quid there. It’s not quite the colour I wanted but it’s near enough. Just do it in this mate”
But mate the problem with that stuff is, once it comes out of the gun, there is nothing you can do with it. If there is a fly that lands on it or a spider walks across it, or I get any runs because it’s too cold or I can’t see, there is nothing I can do with it. You are stuck with what you get. I can’t flat it, I can’t polish it, I can’t even take it off and start again if it’s real bad and on top of that it takes days to dry off, especially in this weather before you can start to build the car back up again. It’s really not worth the saving on material cost.
“You worry too much mate. Just crack on as quick as you can. I’ll nip down and have a coffee and see how you are getting on when I can. If I don’t see you just give me a shout when it’s done. I could do with it for that show we talked about soon though, so don’t let me down. Here’s the paint, i’m sure it will be fine. Thanks for the coffee, i’ll see you soon”
SOME TIME LATER
“Eyup Tosh, you managed to get it sorted then”
Well it’s all one colour but I can’t say i’m happy with it.
“Why what’s up with it? It doesn’t look bad from down here”
Yeah it’s a good 10 yard away job, but as I thought, it’s full of dusty bits and a couple of dead flies from the spray tent. It’s a bit orange peely, as the compressor struggled to keep up with pressure and there a few runs on the lower panels where I couldn’t see in there. On the bright side you’ve got a clean looking car that didn’t cost you a fortune.
“Oh right, yeah I can see what you mean when you look close.” (uncomfortable silence) “Cheers, sorry I didn’t manage to get as much cash out as we talked about but i’ll try and see you right as soon as I can. Maybe i’ll see you at the show at weekend”
I can’t make that show mate, i’ve got to try and get this car finished as I need to get it on sale. Maybe i’ll see you at the next one. Sorry we didn’t get chance to go out for dinner. We must get together soon.
AT THE SHOW
“Eyup mate, I see you’ve had the A35 painted then, who did you that?”
“Tosh did it”
“Really?, I’ve seen a few of his jobs and they were great. To be honest this looks a bit ........”
“Yeah, to be honest i’m really disappointed with it, I expected it to be better than this”
“You were going to take it to the NEC show weren’t you? It’s going to look ten times worse under those lights”
“ I was hoping to, but obviously I can’t take it looking like this. To be honest I think I could have done better myself in my garage. What a waste of money”
“I thought about asking him to do one for me but I don’t think i’ll bother ha ha”
“No, I wont be taking him any more jobs either, i’ll take it to a proper garage next time”
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By Tony 'Tosh' Brooks
In 2016, we had our first weekend event at Crich Transport Museum and we tagged our Enthusiasts Group show on the Saturday to Crich's own classic car show on the Sunday. It proved to be a very popular show and the queue of classic cars through the car park and out onto the road by 8am created all sorts of problems getting through to form an area for our cars to be together. It very nearly ended up in fisticuffs with the impatient waiting queue when i managed to wave our group to the front and get into the bandstand area before them all.
This year we would be ready. We'd get up early and form a line in the car park before anyone else arrives. It's not like we had far to go!!
Then someone who i can't quite recall, (i'm sure they will make themselves known and claim the glory!) came up with an even better solution!
"Why don't we just get Paul to get permission to open the bottom gate directly over the road from the campsite?"
This would give us direct access to a lovely parking area right in front of the old building facade.
Earlier on Saturday evening we had decided to have another swappsy session and give each other a chance to drive our different cars.
I wanted to drive Phil Allen's lovely Rover P5.
Phil wanted to drive Apollo.
Paul drove our XR3i and Kurt drove his Mini (i think)
Again i can't remember who else drove what but i think we all had a go in something different!
This turned out to be rather dissapointing in the end as Paul had indeed got the bottom gate open and we got to drive all of 50 yards over the road to our display positions!
Eric Dalton had kindly donated a genuine Rover dealer flag and with the proper banner poles Gus made for us it was a perfect opportunity to park the three Rovers in our group together and give us some great cover shots for the meet.
The rest of the cars were carefully placed to give us the best display possible, which looked great until the Crich health and safety bods told us "you can't park there, there, or there. We need to have access for an ambulance to get through to the first aid centre in case of an emergency"
So after much shuffling and shifting and grumbling and moaning, everyone rearranged their cars until the staff were happy.
This did give me a quick opportunity to have the worlds shortest test drive in Roger's gorgeous Morris Oxford though. It was slightly out of line with the rest of the display so i got to "manhoover" it into position. I certainly wish i could have taken it further. (Like home!)
We were all set up by about 8.30 and were happy with how the cars looked so it was time to head back to camp for breakfast before the other car clubs and show goers started to arrive.
I have to say this breakfast became a true feast. We had three camper kitchens as well as the barbecue on the go at the same time and between Gus, Gar and Phil managed to produce some of the best bacon, eggs, (fried and poached), sausages, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast in such vast quantities that we were unlikely to starve any time soon!
Kevin and Sheila joined us for the feast and Liam was about to go out in search of hashbrown's before being persuaded they were not needed and we were just being greedy!!
Of course i had to do all the washing up and collecting the rubbish etc as i'm too lazy and bad moody in a morning to actually do any cooking and you would not believe how many black bags of rubbish we had managed to collect over the weekend!
As we headed back over to the show we all grabbed a rubbish bag and almost filled Crich's rather handy skip!
It had stopped raining but the black clouds continually threatened to give us a soaking and the wind was howling through our display like a wailing banshee. It was a case of jumpers on, coats on, coats off, jumpers off and then back on again all morning as it changed from freezing to warm every ten minutes!
The wind did unfurl the flag from time to time for some great pictures though, so as they say, every cloud has a silver lining!
Despite us all feeling a little washed out and tired by now, we took it in turns to have a wander around the show. There were some fabulous cars turning up, not least a stunning pale blue Alvis. A whispering Rolls Royce looking like a banana split in creamy yellow and brown livery. The best Rover P4 you are ever likely to see with a for sale sign in it. (oooh a purchase opportunity?) Err, no. I would need a mortgage!
The Mg club had formed their own display up in the woods and offered some very fine looking Mg's and Mini's.
The bandstand area was covered in all manner of Johnny foreigners including a fabulous Renault and Ford V8 Pilot etc. (sorry i can't remember more details, I've been to bed since then and i'm never very good at remembering model names!)
As i walked back down the cobbles i heard the familiar rumble of a massive, highly tuned V8 coming from behind me. I thought Lincoln had turned up with his Range Rover but it was a very menacing looking, immaculate, black Rover Sd1 with a stunning stance. This owner had obviously spent many many hours and a shed load of cash building this stunning machine. It looked as good under the hood as it did on the outside and the boot contained a Nitrous kit and dvd screen which was incredibly neatly installed. I understand it may belong to one of our group members, so if anyone knows the owner, please get him to post more close up details! Ed...didn't you take a photo of this miraculous SD1?? Amateurs!
Although there were many more cars on display on the Sunday and the weather wasn't quite as bad. The show didn't have the same atmosphere for me. It could just have been that i'd eaten too much, drank too much or talked too much but by lunchtime i'd just about had enough and talking to some of the other guys,they were feeling very much the same.
A few of us kept wandering back to camp for a sneaky sleep (especially Gar, who couldn't keep his eyes open lol)
Phil's wife Lorraine had turned up with their son Lucas and were enjoying several tram rides on the magnificently restored machines from around the country and indeed the world. As were Liam and Finley and Kevin and Sheila. I keep seeing their little faces go by as i sat around the display trying to catch some sun. (i didn't actally catch any)
I think it was around 2pm when i went back to camp to pack up the camper and get the trailer ready to take the Nash home. I would take it over to the car park for easier loading and then go and rejoin the gang for the rest of the afternoon but after parking the van outside the main gate and walking down the entry ramp, i couldn't help but notice all our group cars heading up the cobbles towards the exit!
It was all over. Another fabulous Crich show as coming to an end and en mass, everyone had decided it was time to head home.
Some of us had a long way to travel home and some of us didn't. Gus and I were fortunate to be only an hour away but i did feel for Gar who had to retrace his double run back and Liam who had a 3 hour journey home in an unfamiliar car.
Well done to everyone for making it a memorable weekend enjoyed by all. Big thanks to Paul Cheetham and Gar Cole for their oustanding organisation and thanks to Crich Transport Museum for again allowing us to use their superb location and facilities.
I hope you enjoyed my reports and i look forward to Mike Peake taking back over for our future events! Ed...oh no! all yours now matey!
By Tony 'Tosh' Brooks
After way too much merriment on Friday night, my brother and I were
very rudely awakened from our drunken sleep at 5am by the sound of
heavy rain lashing down on the campervan roof.
"Oh noooooo" I said to Gus, Then thought to my self. "Did we put the
roof up on the Nash? Did we put the left over food away?, Did i leave
Bella outside? Is poor old Paul Cheetham getting washed away in his
little tent" and many other questions started to go round in my head. I
could hear Bella snoring in her bed under mine so rather than going
out and actually checking any of my other worries, i decided to pull a
pillow over my head and try and drift off back to sleep.
A couple of hours later i woke again to find it still raining but not so
hard. Gus was up and about and i could hear voices outside grumbling
and moaning about not getting any sleep and the day ahead being a
Fortunately Gar being sober had thought on to place all the chairs and
tables under the gazebo before he went to bed, so we were able to
have a relatively dry breakfast, which was a rather somber and steady
affair compared to our usual meaty feast, due to to the rain and our
With pots washed and rubbish from the night before collected up it was
time to mount our steeds and get ready to drive just over the road,
through the car park and onto the cobbled streets for our show.
Gar set up the cake table and chairs under the bandstand, out of the
rain, whilst the group banner was strapped to the railings ready to
welcome all comers through the main gate.
The bandstand area was filled with most of the campers cars and after
a bit of shifting, shuffling and wheel spinning on the muddy grass we
were happy with the display.
As a steady flow of Britains finest classic cars started to arrive, Paul was
running round like a mad thing as usual, organising the parking, trying to
keep out of trouble with the various Crich staff, answering people's
questions and taking as many photo's as possible. He's a busy boy!
Benjamin Gretton and his good lady arrived in his superb Mk1 Granada
Coupe, desperate to defend his members favourite car title for a
second year but there were some top class cars arriving and it was
going to be a tough choice for everyone!
Next to arrive was a lovely looking Triumph Dolomite with a very
dapper looking chap at the wheel, resplendant in white shirt, tie,
waistcoat and ...........what's that on his head?? why its a yellow bowler
hat!! No idea who he was, does anyone know him?
Snowey Ellison arrived in his lovely old Hillman Husky and we had
Metro's sitting side by side in front of a Jensen Interceptor, S Type
Jaguar, Liam's Rover P6 and even a rebodied Kitten Tempest! This may
not be the largest car show ever but this was a quality line-up!
Gar had decided, due to there only being 20 odd cars on show in the
rain, that the best way to present the members choice award would be
to post one picture of each car on the Facebook group and the picture
with the most likes would win. Thus enableing everyone that couldn't
make the show to get involved.
That was plan A... what we didn't take into consideration was the fact
that no one at Crich could get any internet signal and if we did get a
signal it was that poor that downloading pictures was impossible!!
Plan B....Gar went round and asked everyone there to choose their
It was a close run thing with all the cars being worthy winners and it
came down in the end to Nick Arthur shooting himself in the foot!
Nick's stunning Jensen Interceptor was neck and neck with Ian
Woodwards equally stunning Ford Zephyr and unbeknown to Nick it
was his own final vote for the Zephyr that gave Ian the win!
Congratulations to Ian and commiserations to Nick, and Ben, and
everyone else who didn't win but i didn't hear anyone complain about
As the day went on the rain was on and off. Much cake was eaten and
many cups of coffee were flowing out of Apollo's very handy kettle.
Paul had spread the word that we could do a convoy parade up and
down the cobbled, tram lined street at 1.30pm and this certainly
proved to be a highlight of the day (for me at least!).
Lincoln Hunt had earlier relayed a story about his dad owning a Nash
Metropolitan when he was a boy and that he once got locked in the
boot and couldn't get out! Despite this claustrophobic episode he still
had fond memories of the car and would love to do the parade in our
As many of the regular show goers know, we love letting people enjoy
our cars so i had no hesitation throwing him the keys and being the top
fella he is, Lincoln throws me the keys to his beast of a Range Rover!!
The sound of that massive 4.2 litre V8 motor reverbarating through the
enclosed street was absolutely amazing as we started the parade. I
was grinning from ear to ear as i regularly blipped that throttle. It was
good to see the smile on Lincoln's face too, as the biggest guy, sat in
the smallest car roared up and down the cobbles.
Paul was leading the parade and chose to do no less than three runs up
and down, which was good for Liam as he missed the first run but not
so good for Simon Birch as his lovely but temprimental Mk 2 Granada
had starting problems! At least he was able to get some good pictures
from the bridge above the street and lots of us were taking video's and
pictures en route, most have which have already been seen on the
I took a bit of stick from everyone for constantly revving Lincoln's
tremendous Rover engine and for dropping back in the line so i could
floor it up the cobbles for dramatic effect but Licoln certainly got his
own back when the Nash came back looking like "Puffing Billy" with
steam pouring out of the radiator!!
One of the few vehicles that didn't join us in the parade was owned by
Joshua Springer. I don't know what his problem was, i think he must
have been in a bad mood and not enjoying the show.......or maybe it
was because he turned up in his immaculate 40' Plaxton bodied Butlins
coach, complete with hilarious skeleton driver!
If the members choice award was for the groups largest vehicle, he
would certainly have taken it without argument!
Despite the weather trying it's best to dampen spirits and numbers
being a bit down on what we'd hoped, we had a fabulous day. Met
some lovely people and enjoyed some lovely cakes.
As the show was winding down and people were dwindling away, the
rain had stopped and although it was still windy, we decided to have a
mini convoy out of the museum and up to the memorial tower over
looking the site.
This gave some of us another chance to swap keys and drive each
others cars up the hill. I can't quite remember who drove what but i'm
sure those who did swap will fill us in. Up to this point i hadn't yet
drove our Nash so i took that and followed the convoy up to the
memorial car park for an impromptu photo opportunity on the grassy
area with stunning views over the Derbyshire countryside.
We walked en mass to the tower for more piccys and some of us
braved the endless spiral staricase to the very top. I can tell you it was
extremely windy up there!! Kurt nearly lost his glasses, Lincoln thought
about taking his cap off for a second and Liam, Gus, and I had our hair
blown all out of shape!
Cobwebs blown off, photo's taken, it was time to head back to camp for
some well earned barbecue and drinkypoo's.
As usual Gus did a splendid job of cooking everything to perfection and
me and Phil did splendid job of polishing off every available drop of
Joan had supplied us with some of Lincolnshire's finest sausages at the
request of John Simpson, as they went down so well at Boston. They
certainly went down well at Crich too!
As the rain started to pour heavily again we tried to huddle closer and
closer to the centre of Gar's 9' square gazebo but several of us were
just on the outskirts and we took it in turn to drown under a shower of
freezing cold water. Roger and Joan could take no more and declared
"Why are we sitting here getting soaked when we have a beautiful,
warm dry camper with tv and Pimms?? Lets go!!" So they turned, in
leaving us to ponder whether we should get an early night and be fresh
for the second days show on Sunday.
I was willing to call it a night but Phil Allen produced a bottle of
"Christams spirit" in the form of some rather tasty Cinnemon whiskey!
This did the trick and our spirits were indeed lifted and we had no
choice but to party on until well after midnight again!
After almost being flooded down to the bottom of the field in his little
tent, Kurt had invited Paul to spend the night in Apollo with him instead
of risking another sleepless night. He welcomed the idea and the two
of them cosied up in there like a couple of boy scouts on a big
Eventually Gar had had enough too and sent us all to bed. It's always
good to have a sensible one in any group and if it wasn't for him (and
running out of whiskey) we would probably have carried on another
few hours. Phil wasn't happy and was searching his van for a stray
bottle of merlot but eventually we all settled down having had a soggy
but good day.
To be Continued....
Part One. Setting up camp.
By Tony 'Tosh' Brooks
Due to our regular group meet attendee and master blogger Mike Peake being otherwise engaged, I’ve been bullied...sorry, "politely asked" to write a report on our latest group meet and camping weekend at Crich Transport Museum Derbyshire. Organised by the ever enthusiastic young Mini owner Paul Cheetham, with the help of our very own events guru Gar Cole.
The weather forecast for the weekend was Sunny with cloud for Friday. Rain and more rain Saturday. Showers with cloud and blustery wind Sunday. For once, and much to our dismay, the forecast was spot on!!
Some weeks earlier I had picked up a Rover P6 for my mate Liam White, as it was for sale close to my home town. He was desperate to collect and drive the car but due to living in Bristol, was struggling to get over for it.
He asked if i could take it to Crich for him and he would come over for the weekend and drive it back home to Bristol on the Sunday.
He had to collect his son Finley from school and his lovely wife Helen from her pampering salon session and hoped to join us by about 7pm. Due to Helen being a total Diva they had decided not to camp and had booked into a swanky dog friendly B&B in the village to also accommodate their dog Luna.
This gave us a bit of a dilemma as I was bringing our new Nash Metropolitan on my trailer behind the camper we would be sleeping in, my brother Gus was driving Apollo and Kurt Lawrence was driving our XR3i. A car which he loves almost as much as the Mk3 Cortina I sold from under him last year.
Not wanting to let Liam down I said no problem, we'll leave the XR3 and Kurt can drive your P6 to Crich. Well this went down like a lead balloon and Kurt was screaming like a girl and stamping his feet, so being the kind hearted gent I am, I said "tough" that's how it's got to be!
Gus was going to our toy box early Friday morning to top up Apollo's fluids, as he has a tendency to spew them all out on the floor in between waiting for his time to shine, while I go shopping for essential weekend supplies. (Ok mainly whiskey, vodka, burgers, whiskey, cake and whiskey!)
I get a call from Gus at 10am saying he was bored, Apollo was good to go, all the cars were washed and the Nash was on the trailer! We were going to be way too early, so i suggested we take Liam's car to Crich then come back and collect everything else, as it was less than an hour from home. That way at least Kurt might be in a better mood and we'd have a full complement of cars at the show.
No drama, the car drove great, we dumped it on the camping field and shot straight back for the other cars.
When we got back for the second time Gar's caravan was parked in prime position. He'd been and gone back home to fetch his Moggy Minor "Nelson" and he'd text me to say due to the weather we should form a circle to shade the evening’s entertainment, so we parked Apollo and my camper "just so" and cracked open a beer just in time to welcome Phil Allen with his caravan which made up the full "square" circle.
Phil didn't hang about as he was doing a double run too and heading straight back to fetch his beautiful Rover P5. He doesn't live far from Crich so wouldn't be long!
The weather was beautiful in the afternoon and as time went by more beer flowed as we welcomed our organiser Paul Cheetham with his Mini, Kurt in the XR3i, Roger and Joan Tennison with their gorgeous Morris Oxford, and Ashley and his son Thomas in their mad as a box of frogs Scamp.
Still no sign of Gar or Phil but the text messages were coming thick and fast!! Gar had lost his credit card and was retracing his steps from earlier in the day hoping to find it and Phil's wife Lorraine had the keys to his P5 in her van miles away!! Well done boys!
Despite driving 160 miles from Bristol, Liam and his family still managed to arrive, check into the B&B and join us on camp before the rest of the gang!
Finally they were all back, Gar found his card in the petrol station where he'd left it and Phil retrieved his keys. The barbecue was roaring and the drinks were flowing. The banners were up, the sun was shining and life was good. Thomas and Finley became best of friends and played happily for hours. Luna and my dog Bella were also getting to know each other as we celebrated Phil's birthday with a superb cake provided by Gar with a picture of his P5 emblazoned on the top..(there's even a sweet wedding type picture of Phil and Kurt doing the cutting ceremony somewhere)
We partied on until after midnight with toasted marshmallows burning over the fire pit and copious amounts of alcohol being consumed until some sensible fellow (Sober Gar) suggested we hit the sack as we have a classic car show to go to tomorrow!
To be continued....
by Tony "Tosh" Brooks
I’d like to say it has been a complete pleasure to restore this unique and interesting vehicle, but it was a summer of hard work and vast expense that caused a few arguments and lots of heartache along the way!
We all love it (despite what Alison may say from time to time!), and can’t wait to get back out on the classic car show circuit in 2017, starting of course at the NEC at the beginning of April. I don’t think Apollo will ever be totally finished; as with all classics it’s an ongoing project, but we’re happy with where we are now and will continue to improve and change things as we go.
I apologise if I’ve gone on a bit, but I can assure you I have condensed a lot of the work involved in getting it this far, and I apologise if I’ve missed anyone or any parts of the restoration out. Your help and hard work was much appreciated and I hope we all get to enjoy using Apollo for many years to come.
History before our ownership
First registered in 1969 this Rover P5 Camper was sold to it’s second of 4 registered keepers in 1971, and he took the unusual decision to mount a one off hand built caravanette frame on to the chassis. So the original car was just two years old and perfectly straight when it was cut in half! The conversion was obviously a success as he enjoyed many years of touring in the West Country and extensively on the continent with his family.
History is lost for a while, and it’s believed the car fell into disrepair and was off road for quite a while, before it was discovered by a Rover enthusiast and his life long friend decades later.
Sadly however, having purchased the vehicle in 1996, after finding it dumped and forlorn in a sand quarry, the current owner quickly established that the caravanette structure had succumbed to the rigours of corrosion and wood worm and needed to be rebuilt. The gearbox was missing too, so maybe this is why it ended up where it did for so long.
The framework, ceiling and most of the cladding was replaced and resprayed and it seemed an ideal time to modernise the interior and kitchen area. The wiring was also brought up to date, enabling the lighting to be run from a 12v or 240v supply. A new gearbox was sourced and fitted as well as complete restoration of the front bodywork and chrome.
Having owned the vehicle for 19 years, the interior has since been redecorated a couple more times, but as the owner got to an age where maintaining the vehicle no longer possible, he decided to sell it on at the Silverstone auction at the NEC Classic and Restoration Show in 2015.
During his ownership he enjoyed many years showing the car and attending the London to Brighton Classic runs from 1999 to 2014! It was a well known and well respected vehicle on the show circuit, and is believed to be the only surviving camper based on a Rover P5.
If anyone needs any further information, or has any ideas or advice on further improvements we could make, or shows and events we could attend, we are open to any suggestions.
Any readers who would like to know more about Apollo may enjoy our Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/RoverP5Camper
I hope you enjoyed reading my account of the Apollo journey to date - do come and say hello if you visit the NEC this April.
Tony "Tosh" Brooks
by Tony "Tosh" Brooks
into The home straight
It was then onwards and upwards with fitting the external locker doors, entry door, toilet access and flush fillers, side windows, marker lights, sunroof, tv aerial, roof vent, etc, to the body, and we had a set of fancy led rear lights, rear view camera, new number plate, rear window and the spare wheel carrier to fit to the back end.
We deliberately wanted people to see the car from the back and be confused as to what it was. Is it just a regular, modern type caravan or motor home or what? So we fitted high and low rise led stop and tail lights & indicators, led fog & reversing lights and a high rise brake light, as you’d find on modern vehicles. Then with the old style registration plate and the spare Rostyle wheel hung on the back, along with the V8 3500 badges, it would make people realise this was no “ordinary” motor home!
My younger brother Tim had been hard at work, he had taken all the wood pieces from the cab interior, as well as all the chrome trims and door cards home and set about bringing them all back up to a beautiful finish, fit to go back on the car. He flatted, repaired and re-varnished the wood. Polished up the chrome trims, bumper and grille, and re-trimmed the door cards and dash parts with new black vinyl and velour, and fitted new fur flex trim and rubber door seals.
My wife Alison spent hours stripping down the front seats, re-stitching the splits, fitting new padding, feeding and colouring the leather and building them back together, and did a fabulous job of saving what I thought were a pair of seats beyond all repair!
Her next task was to make the seating, curtains and pelmets for the rear interior, as well as helping to carpet line the ceiling, and paper the walls. She had free reign with the interior design, and to go along with the Apollo theme of stars and glamour, she came up with black glitter carpet on the floor, silver grey curtains, and fabulous purple faux leather for the seating and pelmets. The seating then went one stage further with big diamante buttoning! It looks amazing and certainly not what people expect to see in a 60’s motor home!
I fitted a Truma gas and electric water heater, and fresh water tank with pressurised water flow system, which would pump hot or cold water to the smart round kitchen sink and bathroom basin. A 3 way fridge freezer and full cooker with 4 ring hob, grill and oven. The gas bottle is housed at the nearside rear and accessed from an external locker. The external locker on the off side houses the car battery and the leisure battery to run the 12v system, which is then connected to a 100w solar panel on the roof which is split switched so we can trickle charge either battery at any time. There’s a 240v hook-up too, connected to the mains consumer unit, and we have several mains sockets throughout, and can run the water heater and fridge on mains, as well as re-charge the leisure battery when hooked up.
We had smart bespoke worktops made in a glittery white laminate and tiled the kitchen area in purple and white lightweight tiles with chrome trims, which really finish off the look.
With the interior starting to look the part we needed to add some “in car” entertainment, so I added a 12v tv/dvd player on a wall bracket next to the entry door. It is the perfect position to watch tv from the rear seating area or whilst laid on the over cab double bed! The tv connects to a Status telescopic aerial on the roof with signal booster. Then I fitted a cd player connected to two ceiling mounted speakers which also double up for the cd player in the cab, as we didn’t want to put speakers back in the new door cards.
Overall, the only thing that we ended up using from the original camper is the main aluminium frame and the wood roof frame, which apart from a bit of rotten wood that needed replacing, was in pretty good shape, and the plastic wheel arch covers. Everything else is new, and although it looks similar to the original, if a picture of the before and after are put together, you will see they are quite different.
It’s quite obvious the rear end view is totally different with the new lights etc, but the sides look similar until you notice on the nearside, the window in the entry door, the curved led awning light, the gas locker door and the smaller side window, as well as the water tank filler, and the water heater exhaust outlet.
On the offside, apart from the smaller window, the differences are the toilet cassette access door and flush inlet, the fuel filler cap, the battery box door and hook-up inlet.
Next time - Tony reflects on the restoration and what he knows of Apollo's past
by Tony "Tosh" Brooks
The refurb continues ...
The heavy plywood floor was ripped out and refitted in lighter timber after laying the first fix wiring etc for the 12v and 240v electrical system.
Every piece of internal board was torn out as it was all rotten, damp and smelly, and it needed to be properly insulated anyway. This allowed me again to run first fix wiring for the ceiling lights, cd speakers, and tv wiring etc. A large sunroof was cut into the roof, to allow more natural light in than a standard roof vent, and any rotten wood in the main frame was replaced with new stronger timber.
I had some really smart double glazed caravan windows, which came with built in internal concertina blinds and fly screens; luckily they were just the right size for the sides. They would allow me room to fit the overhead lockers, and TV bracket etc without getting in the way.
Alison insisted that we had to have a toilet and wash basin as part of the interior build. If we go to long weekend classic car shows and the like you can’t beat having your own private facilities, and after many years experience of caravan and camper outings, I just had to agree. So the only place I could possibly fit this was directly behind the drivers seat. This meant re-siting the main car battery, which was presently fitted right where the closet floor needed to be! It would be “cosy” but functional and well equipped, with an electric flush cassette toilet and hot and cold water corner wash basin with mixer tap.
The petrol tank was protruding through the floor at the rear, and this had to be removed in order for me to be able to put the fridge and oven in position later. There was plenty of room under the chassis to fit a different tank, and we ended up fitting a brand new Land Rover one, which worked out really well; it had the capacity we needed and the filler pipe was exactly where we needed it to be.
While I was busy with the rear build, Gus had re-built the engine and fitted the new gearbox to it. It looked like a brand new motor with everything cleaned, polished and painted. We were ready for a bench test so he fitted the radiator, and ran a fuel line from a can, then connected a battery. After a few false starts, it fired into life and sounded awesome without the exhaust fitted!!
Unfortunately this was when we noticed the radiator was leaking from several places, so rather than messing around trying to seal it, we ordered a brand new one, which would have a modern core and help greatly with any future over-heating issues. With that and the new Kenlow electric fan, we were confident it would be one less thing to worry about when travelling long distances.
The front sub frame and cross members etc were all under sealed and painted before dropping the engine and box back in. The exhaust was new, the manifolds were sand blasted and re-painted, we had a full set of new gaskets, so it was all pretty straight forward and looked 'the business'.
We read that the vague steering could be much improved by altering the caster angle, and swapping the rubber sub frame mounts for solid ones, so we had some new mounts made and some spacers and longer pegs to alter the caster angle. As it turns out it now steers 100% better, and feels much safer on the road.
Finally the new roof and siding material was delivered, after a much longer wait than we expected. This allowed me to get the paint matched to the colour of the side panels, and also to get on with top coating the front end body panels. Although my work unit is by no means ideal for spray painting, the final finish wasn’t bad and we were very pleased with it. I used two pack paint so this allowed me to flat off and polish up any slight imperfections and rub the flies out!
The next job was to fit the sides which was pretty straight forward, and we had hoped to drop the roof panel on in one continuous 7m length, but this proved too tricky and awkward to handle. We ended up having one cut on the underneath part above the car roof and another cut on the top front curve, as it was too sharp a bend to carry it all the way over the rest of the roof. The joints were are properly sealed and trimmed with aluminium mouldings so hopefully we wont have the same water ingress issues in future.
One of the hardest jobs was mitreing the corner mouldings. With all the different angles, each section had to be slit and curved to follow the contours of the body. It took for ever to get (almost) perfect, but we were happy enough with it, and with the black moulding inserts fitted it looked very neat.
Next time ... the work continues!
by Tony "Tosh" Brooks
I could go on for hours listing everything we’ve replaced, mended, up-graded, re-built etc, but needless to say it would be a lot quicker to list the parts that haven’t been replaced!
We stripped the engine and gearbox out, and sourced a second hand replacement box. The engine was totally re-built from top to bottom, and now purrs like a kitten. Every ancillary was cleaned, replaced, sand blasted, powder coated or painted before being re-fitted.
The electrical system was over-hauled, so everything worked as it should. We fitted a new speedo and cables, choke cables, kick down cables, and any other cable we could find. Every hose, every clip, every gasket, every bush, every joint, everything.
While the engine was out we prepared and re-painted the engine bay. Not to concourse standard but good enough for us. This was after all going to be a car that we would use, and not just be for showing off.
Gus welded the inner wings, the wheel arches, the inner and outer sills, the floor pans etc, which were pretty bad I places, but there was good metal to weld to, so we knew it would be good and strong for years to come and get through a proper mot this time!
While he had his welder out, he also welded new wing bottom repair panels, door bottom panels, and A-post repair pieces etc, so the body panels could be prepared ready for painting.
By the this time the rear “camper” part was still as it was, ready for a “light” renovation further down the line, but that wasn’t to last!
We had a couple of good “family” weekends, where my daughter Claire and her husband Carl, and Gus’s kids Julie and Mike, and Julie’s fiance Kurt came down and helped us gut the camper interior as it was well rotten, damp, heavy and old fashioned.
We wanted to fit a modern interior, with all the mod cons of a modern motor home, and get totally away from the “Old Lady” flowery, 60’s retro look that everyone would expect to see in a conversion like this, so everything had to go!
We were hoping to save the external sidings and the roof, but when we got on the roof we realised the previous owner had poured gallons of tar over the roofing sheets, in the vain hope of stopping water ingress to the interior. So Carl set about stripping all that off, and obviously that lead to stripping all the corner trims off, and the broken roof light off, and before we knew it there was not much left!
With the roof panels off we started to look at the rest of the aluminium sidings; they were dented in several places and the hand carved wood trims weren’t really our style. The side windows were far too long and were going to restrict building the interior as we wanted.
The entry door needed to be re-built, and a new window fitted. The gas locker door was a big heavy thing that would ultimately be in the wrong place in our new design, and the original fridge vents were in the wrong place too. So the decision was made to strip the whole thing back to the bare bones and pretty much start again.
We were working on it outside in our yard up to this point, as the weather was pretty good through March into April. Then as I was slowing down a bit on my own job and had space in my unit we managed to bring it inside before the rains came, ready for some paintwork and moving forward with the camper re-furb.
All the body panels had a coat of sealer and several coats of primer, and the engine bay was painted ready for the engine & box to go back in. The windscreen rubber seal needed to be replaced, so the screen was taken out before preparing the roof and scuttle for paint.
We’d ordered the new sidings and roof panels from Eltheringtons in Hull, and these were coming pre painted white, so we had to wait for delivery before we could order the two pack paint for the body, as we wanted it to colour match perfectly.
While waiting for the delivery we got on with re-building the rear wheel arches, as they were far too high and a complete bodge of wood and fibreglass. Gus fabricated nice solid sheet metal arches, which would be fully water proof, and could easily be insulated from the inside.
Next time - the restoration continues
by Tony "Tosh" Brooks
If you read Part 1, that was the good bit!
As we got going and came to the first roundabout, I seriously thought the thing was going to turn over, the steering was that vague and the weight on the back wallowing about so badly that I thought all four tyres must be flat. When we finally found a petrol station, we filled up and checked the tyre pressures, and to my dismay they were about what we thought they should be, which meant it wasn’t go to get any better, all the way home!!
After going for a couple of hours or so on the motorways at what seemed like a fair pace but turned out to be only 30 mph, I could take no more. I had pins and needles in my hands, my face was wet and freezing and my stress levels were through the roof. I honestly thought if I carried on I would have a heart attack.
The car seemed to want to throw me into every ditch on every camber in the road, and started to wander across all three lanes as soon as I lost concentration for a second. I couldn’t take either hand off the wheel, otherwise I found myself over correcting the sway, and taking out any passing vehicle or road sign that got in the way! How on earth the old boy who owned it used to do the London to Brighton Rally I’ll never know, he must have had nerves of steel!!
I forgot to mention - it’s three speed automatic, which set off fine in first, but had no second gear, so it would scream it’s nuts off until finally finding third and then settle into motion. But as soon as you slowed down to stop it would not tick over and cut out - then take forever to re-start, so I had to keep it running at all cost! Great fun!
So we pulled over at a service station and my brother kindly offered to take over the driving seat for the rest of the journey home. He thought I was exaggerating, but soon found out that something major had to be done to make this a safe and roadworthy car.
I’d like to say my wife Alison was pleased to see me when I got back, but we were so late, and I’d just spent £3500 on an old banger that she wasn’t expecting, that she was actually a bit “miffed”!
The next morning didn’t get much better. When we had a chance to look round the car properly, we realised it was a lot worse than “just a bit rough round the edges”. Although it only had two doors, two wings, a bonnet, and half a roof, every panel had holes and rough repairs that would need to be addressed. The engine was running as rough a pig, the gearbox was shot, the sills and floor were rotten, (despite it having 6 months mot!)
The cab interior was manky, with split seats, ripped headlining and door cards, rotten carpets, cracked and rotted wood dash and door tops, perished rubber seals, no door seals, rotten fur flex etc, and that was before even looking at the camper side of things!
Really the only saving grace with the car so far was that the chrome bright work was in really good shape, nice and straight with very little pitting. This probably gave the initial impression that the car was better looking than it really was - and the fact that it was white, which is a very forgiving colour, fooled us into thinking it would be easy!
So we were at the point where we had a choice to either scrap it, break it up and probably lose most of our money, or go for it and carryout a full restoration job. I know which choice my wife would have preferred, but my brother and I, who still loved the car decided to go for it!
Alison asked me what we were going to call it, and is it a he or a she? After giving it some thought, and discussing several options, we decided it had to be a “He” - it was too big and brash to be a “She”. I then thought about his build year being 1969, the same year as Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon, and the NASA Lunar Lander vehicle being called the Lunar Rover. So there really was only one option, he had to be called “Apollo”!
That then gave us a theme for the interior. It was going to be as far away from the sort of interior people would expect to see as we could possibly get. There was going to be no flowers and twee Kath Kidson type décor for Apollo! But it would be many months before we started fitting glittery wall paper, carpets and worktops!
Next time - the restoration begins
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