Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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


Contemporary from the pages of Sensible Classics Journal, we meet TV’s Richard Hammond, who together with the assistance of some associates has restored a shocking 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 automobile 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 improbable tales every month so that you can digest and take as inspiration to your personal basic rebuilds. 

Restoring a 1952 Alvis TA21 drophead with Richard Hammond

Phrases by Danny Hopkins and Footage by Matt Howell  

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

“It’s nonetheless all a bit new,” says Richard Hammond as he opens the door to disclose the within area of The Smallest Cog, the skilled workshop he has created with working associate Neil Greenhouse. “However my coronary heart has at all times 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 by means of to 1974, so craftsmanship has at all times been essential to me. Restoration actually is in my blood, and my ardour has at all times been with classics.”

As Richard introduces me to the group – the Cogs – I discover a whiff of fatigue. “Sure, effectively, the chaps had been up till 4am getting the automobile completed,” says Richard as he introduces me to enterprise associate Neil Greenhouse, Neil’s son Anthony and brother Andrew. Richard himself was additionally 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 definitely actual, as Richard and Neil pull again the duvet to disclose a shocking 1952 Alvis TA21 drophead. It is a automobile 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 automobile for many years,” says Neil. “I used to be the final individual to work on it earlier than Michael parked it up in a barn in 2001. So, at present would be the first time this TA has been on the street, 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 file by a TV movie crew, who’re seemingly ever current. There’s little doubt 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 area and the blokes have struggled laborious to verify the Alvis is prepared for our arrival.

Anybody who has ever restored a basic is aware of, it’s at all times going to be a tortuous journey. “As with most restoration work on automobiles like this, the bodywork has taken up loads of our time,” Neil explains, “It had sustained injury 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 saved discovering nasty little issues.”

“We ‘shot-blasted’ the panels and that exposed the worst of it,” says brother Andrew. “The wings wanted loads of work. The automobile had beforehand obtained a ‘Seventies’ restoration and there was loads of different 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 loads 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 wished was a refresh and improve to unfavorable 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 street and the engine was working when it was laid up in 2001. So, once 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 received 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 a terminal scenario.”

With that accomplished 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 minimize it again!” The paint end appears wonderful.

“We took the entire 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 injury. It took Neil a number of days to get it proper.”

“In the long run I needed to manipulate the best way the brass door hinges sat and opened, to make the door sit on the appropriate plain” Neil defined.

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

It is usually one other signal this automobile is restored to be used… will probably be pushed and gained’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 received a improbable job for his cash. It’s a coachbuilt automobile and comes with all in constructed expense that coachbuilt automobiles have. Michael can 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 apparent pleasure the Cogs really feel for the automobile they’ve revived. Proof that regardless of the professionalism and the enterprise facet of issues, all of them are fans at coronary heart, with soul.

Learn the total 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

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 automobile. 

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 concerning the demise of father’s automobile, I received a message from a bloke on one of many Fb teams I had been looking out by means of, asking if I wished to purchase his automobile. It was a Harvest Gold Cav Coupé auto, (not handbook, sadly), however I nonetheless stated I’d have it. 

Two days later it was delivered to my buddy Steve Horton’s workshop from Leeds on a trailer. It wanted loads of work… I imply quite a bit. 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, inside 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… your entire roof panel.

It had a horrible Eighties sunroof that had sunk down, so I discovered a brand new roof panel and welded it on, having fastidiously 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 stable graft.

Oh, and I needed to supply physique panels from world wide – I went by means of 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 all the things again to reveal steel, epoxied and stone chipped beneath, seam sealed all over the place and spent ages readying it for high coats. I panel- gapped all of it on the automobile, then utilized the bottom coat and lacquer. 

As soon as the shell was sound and painted I re-did your entire suspension, which was shot blasted and epoxied, given new bushes and lowered by 60mm. Then I pulled the engine aside and commenced the method of refurbishing and changing all the things. 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 varied 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 street, 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 fantastically. 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 liked his.

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



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