Car trimmers are skilled craftsmen at the best of times. When it comes to classic and vintage cars, they’re called coach trimmers and they’re a bit of an endangered species and are in great demand. A rare breed of artisans is keeping the old school skills alive.
One such expert is Simon Tollworthy, the head trimmer in charge of our in-house trim shop here at Brightwell Motor Company in Hockley, Essex. We’re going to give you a look at the incredible work coming out of Simon’s trim shop.
Think of The Repair Shop on the BBC and you’ll get the picture. Typically, cars and their interiors turn up at Brightwell in a very sorry state, often having sat unloved for decades or having had too much contact with the posteriors of classic car owners.
At the time of writing, Simon was working on two full re-trims – a silver 1958 Porsche 356A to factory-original specification and a customised interior for a 1964 Mini Cooper S.
The Porsche 356 was the very first production Porsche. About 78,000 of them were built from 1950 to 1965 in Stuttgart in Germany. They were followed by the Porsche 911 from 1964. Brightwell have a particular expertise in early Porsches and have several 356 projects on the go from 1954 to 1958 including a cabriolet and a sought-after Speedster, made famous by Steve McQueen and James Dean. “They’re beautiful cars,” said Simon. “The choice an owner has to make when re-trimming a classic like this is whether to use authentic materials when stuffing or padding their seats, or go for a more modern shaped-foam padding. There are some benefits with going with modern materials, but ultimately, we’re here to do what the customer wants. Either way, everything must look right. For example, with the Porsche 356, everyone scrutinises the crease across the front seat base. It mustn’t be too crisp as that’s not how they came out of the factory. Similarly, the front-to-back pleats must overlay just right. Heaven forbid if the line is too defined!” Simon was re-trimming the 1958 Porsche in its original red leather upholstery with biscuit colour German square-weave carpet with bound edging.
“The Mini Cooper S is a different story,” Simon explained. “Our customer is putting his own mark on this car and has chosen a gorgeous combo of butterscotch leather with houndstooth material for the seat centres and the bottom of the side panels. And he’s gone for an Alcantara headlining. It’s going to look really cool when the car is finished.”
It’s not just full retrims that we take of at Brightwell. We’ve recently tidied up an Aston Martin DB5 and a Mark 1 Jaguar with new carpets, fitted new head linings to classic Fords, a DB9 and a DB7, trimmed new bucket seats for a Jaguar XK140 and are about to make and fit new hoods for a 1962 VW Beetle and another Porsche Speedster. “He’s too modest to say so, but not everyone can do hoods like Simon can,” said Brightwell founder Phil Parry. “He used to run a business specialising in hoods and that experience elevates the our trim shop above many others. A taught well-fitting hood is the final touch to a nicely restored classic.”
Is your classic car interior in need of a retrim or a repair? You can get in touch with us here.