New Zealand Classic Car - - Advertising Feature -

When it comes to the art of coachbuilding in New Zealand, it’s fair to say that we are blessed with in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned crafts­men with skill, pas­sion, and im­mense tal­ent. The New Zealand coachbuilding in­dus­try can be traced back to the early 1900s, af­ter a few at­tempts were made at cre­at­ing lo­cally made ve­hi­cles, but it wasn’t un­til the 1920s that coach­builders quickly moved into build­ing bod­ies for im­ported mo­tor-ve­hi­cle chas­sis. Ad­di­tion­ally, the coachbuilding trade ex­tended to the man­u­fac­ture and assem­bly of frames and parts for spe­cial cars and com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles such as buses, vans, trucks, car­a­vans, and mo­tor homes.

Fast for­ward sev­eral decades to to­day, and coachbuilding crafts­men — some who are from sec­ond- and third­gen­er­a­tion coachbuilding fam­i­lies — hone their skills on restor­ing rusty and fa­tigued clas­sics to re­turn them to their for­mer glory, or recre­at­ing from scratch such ex­otics as early Fer­raris, Jaguars, and Alfa Romeos, to name but three. In many cases, amaz­ing re­sults were, and con­tinue to be, achieved with equip­ment that is con­sid­ered prim­i­tive in to­day’s quick-turn­around mod­ern con­sumerist world. Many en­thu­si­asts in­volved in the clas­sic car fra­ter­nity be­lieve that this tra­di­tional art is slowly but surely dy­ing as the older mas­ter crafts­men hang up their tools af­ter decades of ply­ing their trade.

With this in mind, we de­cided to check out some of the busi­nesses cur­rently spe­cial­iz­ing in this form of work within New Zealand and found that the art of coachbuilding is alive and well, with more busi­nesses than ever be­fore of­fer­ing an elite level of work­man­ship.

These skills and tal­ents are not only put to great use in the coachbuilding sec­tor, but ex­tend to just about ev­ery con­ceiv­able facet of clas­sic car restora­tion. We'll be high­light­ing more of this skilled lo­cal abil­ity in up­com­ing is­sues, so watch this space.

Auto Restora­tions Ltd in Christchurch spe­cial­izes in ver­sa­til­ity. It of­fers full-ser­vice restora­tion and cus­tom build­ing and un­der­takes nearly all work and qual­ity con­trol in-house. The fact it does so much in-house al­lows it to co­or­di­nate the job and makes for a stream­lined op­er­a­tion.

Auto Restora­tions was started in 1973 by a trio of car col­lec­tors who wanted to em­ploy an ex­pert trades­man to do panel work on their cars. That orig­i­nal em­ployee, Al­lan Stanton, was set up in a small premises and be­gan work. Soon, other own­ers of cher­ished cars showed in­ter­est in hav­ing work done, and the business be­gan to ex­pand to meet the de­mand to the point where it out­grew its orig­i­nal site. Fol­low­ing three moves to big­ger and bet­ter premises each time, the com­pany now em­ploys over 25 peo­ple.

Cur­rently in the shop is a duo of cus­tom bod­ies — one coupé and one road­ster, be­ing built on 1950s De­la­haye chas­sis — and also two Alfa 8C 2300 repli­cas, one of which has just been com­pleted, while an­other is un­der­way. Auto Restora­tions has also re­cently em­barked on a 1959 Tes­tarossa replica.

Along­side its cus­toms and one-offs, the shop is kept busy with day-to-day restora­tion work, in­clud­ing ev­ery­thing from Ford V8 coupés to a full job on an As­ton DB4 and race prepa­ra­tion on a Maserati 150S race car. Com­ing soon are a Messer­schmitt bub­ble car and a BMW Isetta to counter the big with some small.

Berry Panel­beat­ers prides it­self on its work­man­ship and be­ing true to its word. This, cou­pled with its use of the lat­est tech­nol­ogy and mod­ern tech­niques along­side old-fash­ioned flair and knowl­edge, en­sure Berry Panel­beat­ers will do a fan­tas­tic job of your restora­tion project, clas­sic or hot rod, show car or patina.

Keith and his team un­der­stand that clas­sic cars are ex­pen­sive, and, with the cost of ev­ery­thing else in the world go­ing up, Keith says, “It’s nice to jump in your old girl and en­joy the stress re­lief that a clas­sic brings, ear-toear smiles all round.”

Berry Panel­beat­ers is more than happy to dis­cuss bud­get, length of re­pairs, and pre­ven­tive main­te­nance. The team is skilled in the art of fab­ri­ca­tion and can build any­thing imag­in­able, so those hardto-source ex­pen­sive parts won’t be a prob­lem at all. Un­der­stand­ing you first and not the bud­get is what Berry Panel­beat­ers stands for.

Keith and his team be­lieve com­mu­ni­ca­tion is golden when it comes to re­pair­ing or restor­ing your ve­hi­cle — whether it’s your work truck with rust is­sues or an award­win­ning clas­sic, ev­ery step of the process is recorded, and you, the cus­tomer, will be kept in the loop and are wel­come to pop in any time.

Keith has an as­sort­ment of clas­sic ve­hi­cles him­self, and has re­cently taken own­er­ship of a ’69 Buick Rivera, hav­ing pre­vi­ously leaned to­wards the Holden ban­ner. He car­ries ex­ten­sive knowl­edge of old Hold­ens and en­joys help­ing to keep them on the road.

As well as tra­di­tional in­surance work, all other work — big, small, strange, or sim­ple — is wel­come. Berry Panel­beat­ers 15 Fair­fax Av­enue, Pen­rose, Auck­land

berry­pan­el­beat­ berry­pan­el­beat­

Coven­try Clas­sics 20 Old­ham Street, Gore

coven­try-clas­ mark@coven­try-clas­

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