Prestige Restoration are one of the UK’s longest-standing and highest-quality restoration companies. We spoke to the lady at the helm, Katie Harcus, to learn more about the family-run business and experience the particular quality of their work first-hand.
Nestled in rural Surrey, Prestige Restoration is based out associated with a quaint and discreet workshop. They may not have the 10, 000 square-foot clinical workshops of some restoration houses, but their warm plus welcoming family atmosphere and 60 years of quality function has placed Prestige Restoration among the best restoration companies not just in the UK, but the whole world. We headed to Surrey to speak to the woman in charge, Katie Harcus, about the company’s history, their own restoration philosophy, and the ins-and-outs of classic car repair.
Katie, thank you for showing us around your amazing workshop! From what we understand, your family members has a long history in car recovery, could you tell me a bit about that?
It started with my grandparents. You’d assume most grandmas would be in the kitchen baking a victoria sponge, but she would usually be rebuilding the carburettor in the shed, while my grandad would be working on some old motorbike. Because of that will, my mum started kart racing when she was 11, back in the particular 1980s, within the same club as Nigel Mansell. While she was racing in Blackbush, she was spotted by Emilio Garcia of Autokraft, who were building AC cobras in Brooklands at the time. He has been also a karting racer, and he saw potential in my mother, so this individual sponsored her.
After she finished college within tool making and mechanical engineering, she went out looking for the job inside the automotive sector, but the most common excuse in those days was they couldn’t cater for a female. Thankfully, Emilio offered the girl a job at Autokraft, where the girl was trained in panel beating plus body spraying.
That’s where the girl met Shane, the company’s co-founder, who already had a huge amount of experience in the industry. When my mum was roughly 20, after about 5 years in Autokraft, these people started their particular own shop with a paint booth in Surrey, back in 1984. They eventually outgrew that space and moved to Guildford, and eventually they will moved back again to our current location in Surrey, where we’ve been for over 30 years.
Whenever did you first get involved within the family business?
Like the mum, I was brought up around cars. When I was a child, on the weekends I’d obtain taken to the workshop, which I absolutely loved. It just seemed normal to me — I thought everyone’s mum came home from work smelling like bodyfiller. It’s a smell I still love to this day.
I always wanted to be involved, and I started simply by helping with the book keeping, which was about 10 years ago. Now, I’m trying to learn about all aspects associated with the business. It is important to know how plus why everything is being done in the particular workshop.
How has your approach and techniques changed over the many years, if at all?
Our approach is dependent around the owner and what they want from the car. However , whenever it comes down to the bodywork, we’re fortunate because we carry out everything from small minor repairs in order to full chassis reconstruction in-house. We pride ourselves in being able to make everything out of aluminium or steel. We still use the same methods and machinery that they used back in the particular 1960s and we go to great lengths to ensure accuracy plus to carry out the builds as they were done in the factory.
For example, we always strive to replicate the original factory finish of the paint (obviously using modern color rather than cellulose based paint), but trying to reproduce the initial finish within the original way will be our specialty. We’ll make changes to improve safety and reliability, but everything we do is usually reversible, so we keep all the particular original parts. I usually say if you restore a car right, you only need to recover it once. That’s really core to our philosophy.
Do a person find a few manufacturers’ vehicles require more care and attention compared to others? Which models are the majority of challenging to restore?
100% the Italian marques. The Ferraris and Maseratis are built in such an intricate way. You could say they were made with a certain level associated with artistic license. A Ferrari 250 Lusso, for example , requires a vast amount of research in order to understand what was original and exactly what wasn’t. On a recent build we did, we traced the initial welds from the manufacturing plant and recreated them in the same way. It’s our own way associated with being respectful towards the artists who built them originally.
When it comes to the particular Ferraris plus the Maseratis — unlike the a lot more mass-produced cars — it’s almost impossible to find authentic parts, therefore everything has to be made. And if something is usually available, the likelihood of bolting it on and walking away is very low. Each and every car is different, as it was totally dependent on who has been building this that day.
Could you tell me about some of your favourite restorations to date? Are there any from this year that will stand out?
Yes! We’re in the process associated with restoring the 1958 Maserati 3500 GT. All these projects have different challenges plus the Maserati arrived inside such a sorry state. This had been a barn find, so the framework had collapsed and certain parts had been missing. It’s been a true nut and bolt restoration because you get to know every inch of the vehicle, and I’ll really miss seeing it around.
We’re very proud associated with that car because everything was carried out in-house plus we do a huge amount of research looking at old magazines and artefacts to return it in order to factory condition. For instance, recreating the particular exact colour on the build sheet took all of us weeks. The original colour was Verde Chiaro, but it had already been resprayed from some point in its past and there was no original paint remaining. The interior was a similar situation: we had to put in a special order for a specific color of Connolly leather.
These are usually the challenges we really enjoy: it’s actually satisfying when you tell an owner that you’ve found a good obscure missing part in someone’s garage in Italy. Now the car is 90% completed, and we just can’t wait to hand this back to the owner. Of course , the last 10% is definitely the hardest part. All of us spend hours and hours shaking the cars down plus making sure there are simply no little rattles or anything, everything has to end up being exactly correct.
How does your own restoration viewpoint compare to that associated with other repair companies in the united kingdom?
We just want to turn out the best possible function we can. One benefit of being a small family business is that we offer more of a personal service than that of the larger businesses. We see a wide variety of vehicles come through the course, but regardless of the model, we have one standard that we apply to almost all the cars we bring back. We’re just a bunch associated with genuine vehicle enthusiasts that love exactly what we’re doing, and we are really simply one big family. I know it’s a cliché, yet it’s true.
What’s next with regard to Prestige Restoration?
I’d like in order to say we’re just going to keep on staying busy. What all of us haven’t mentioned yet that’s so important to us can be teaching the particular next generation how in order to authentically regain cars. What is really unusual about Respect Restoration is certainly that we are such the young team (with a few exceptions). Our goal at the moment is training and developing our team to secure the future of the particular business.
It’s uncommon to observe 6 or even 7 guys under 30 who are with the top of their game focusing on an English wheel or a lathe, but that’s exactly what you saw during your visit. So , the plan is to keep doing what we’re performing for the next 40 years. But yeah, we’re not putting an electric motor in a Ferrari any time soon.
Photos by Amy Shore regarding Classic Driver © 2022