“RESTORA­TION IS BOTH AN ART FORM AND ALSO A SCI­ENCE. LIKE PRO­DUC­ING GREAT ART, IT CANNOT BE HASTENED.”

ALLEN LIM, ON THE NECESSITY OF TEDIUM IN THE RESTORA­TION PROCESS

The Peak (Singapore) - - Cars -

great re­lief, they hit it off. Al­though the driv­e­train was in good me­chan­i­cal con­di­tion and the body­work mostly rust-free, he de­cided he needed to “trop­i­calise” the car for use here. As the car was more than 50 years old, it was sen­si­ble, he says, to em­bark on a full restora­tion to give it the best chance of last­ing an­other 50.

“Restora­tion is both an art form and also a sci­ence,” he ex­plains. “Like pro­duc­ing great art, it cannot be hastened. Like a sci­ence, it must be sys­tem­atic. Cor­ners cannot be cut.”

So he started by tak­ing the car apart. Then, he had the en­gine painstak­ingly re­built to re­store the horses that bolted from the sta­ble through years of wear and tear, and, more im­por­tantly, to en­sure that it could cope with Sin­ga­pore’s start-stop traf­fic and hot and hu­mid cli­mate.

The brake, elec­tri­cal and fuel sys­tems were checked and ser­viced. Com­po­nents that could be re­stored were res­cued, but per­ish­ables such as the fuel tank and fuel lines were re­newed.

With the me­chan­i­cals sorted, Lim moved onto what he re­garded as the most chal­leng­ing part of the en­deav­our: the body and in­te­rior. He sand­blasted the body pan­els to strip it of old paint, al­low­ing him to re­move the rust and prop­erly re­pair the rot­ten ar­eas. He spent an “in­or­di­nate amount of time” to get the struc­tural in­tegrity of the car cor­rect – driv­abil­ity is vi­tal, he says, as he in­tended not to baby the car but to use it reg­u­larly.

The de­tail­ing was also de­mand­ing on this crafts­man. Typ­i­cal of the era, the car is heav­ily ap­pointed with chrome and wood in­lays. They had to be re­moved for re­work­ing, but they were at­tached to the car us­ing del­i­cate clips. An un­skilled hand, he says, could eas­ily break the fas­ten­ers and ren­der the parts worth­less.

For the wood in­serts, he re­lied on a skilled car­pen­ter to fill up the dam­aged sur­faces and to var­nish them, bring­ing out the wood grain. He goes on: “There are nu­mer­ous coats of var­nish on the wood in­serts. Each layer is hand painted with long strokes. When it dries, you sand the layer down and then ap­ply the next layer. It is only this old-fash­ioned method that al­lows you to have this al­most mir­ror-like sheen.”

In a con­sis­tent re­frain, Lim shares that the car re­mains an on­go­ing project for him, it hav­ing not “reached per­fec­tion” in his eyes. But it could be too that he is in no par­tic­u­lar hurry, hav­ing yet to meet his one true love. Cir­cling back to that de­li­cious lit­tle num­ber at the be­gin­ning of the story, he says: “I am still look­ing for the ideal 190 SL.”

GOLDEN TUNES Lim’s 220s houses an orig­i­nal Becker AM ra­dio, framed by chrome and wood in­lays that were all the rage in the ’50s.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.