New for old gold in Cardiff

Cynon Valley - - MOTORS WALES -

A CLAS­SIC car busi­ness is turn­ing out new for old gold.

Hem­mels of Cardiff is prob­a­bly one of the least known suc­cess sto­ries in Bri­tain’s au­to­mo­tive sec­tor but it is rapidly gain­ing recog­ni­tion around the world.

It spe­cialises in nut and bolt re­gen­er­a­tion of clas­sic MercedesBenz sports cars and prices for their year-long re­built mod­els be­gin at £225,000.

For that an owner with a post-war Mercedes-Benz sports car hands it over to the 45-strong crafts­men at Hem­mels and sits back while the Neuge­boren Process is com­pleted.

The owner can watch on-line the grad­ual strip down, cat­a­logu­ing and painstak­ing re­build­ing with gen­uine Mercedes-Benz parts, re­trim­ming and re­paint­ing be­fore it’s handed back, of­ten bet­ter than when it was first built half a cen­tury ago.

Hem­mels can even in­clude mod­ern ad­di­tions such as USB ports, or state of art sound sys­tems which re­tain the car’s orig­i­nal look, and up­grade per­for­mance.

“It takes 52 weeks to com­plete a project,” said Ian Wood, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor with Hem­mels. “But the ef­fect it has on the own­ers is re­mark­able and they can­not be­lieve it is the same car.”

Hem­mels started as a two-man ren­o­va­tion com­pany in 2016 with a 1968 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Pagoda sports car and the qual­ity of its be­spoke work­man­ship spread among en­thu­si­asts to whom money was no ob­ject so more in­quiries and projects came in.

Two years on and the com­pany now em­ploys more than 40 crafts­men and has six ap­pren­tices on its pay­roll who are learn­ing tra­di­tional au­to­mo­tive skills.

There are over a dozen MercedesBenz mod­els in their se­cure work­shops and more in a hold­ing ware­house await­ing the go-ahead.

Ev­ery car which comes in to them is care­fully doc­u­mented and as it’s stripped down the parts are al­lo­cated to boxes ready for ren­o­va­tion and re­fit­ting.

New or re­paired items are re­fit­ted once the body is stripped to bare metal, cleaned, ren­o­vated and re­painted. Each process is au­dited and recorded and this is where the Neuge­boren Process takes its name as a car is re­born or re­gen­er­ated.

Apart from the ap­pren­tices, the crafts­men have spent a life­time in the au­to­mo­tive trade and have been hand-picked for their skills in me­chan­i­cal, body­work, elec­tri­cal and paint­ing.

“Qual­ity be­fore quan­tity is what we strive to achieve ev­ery time,” said Ian Wood. “Some have come to us from busi­nesses where they had to push out a num­ber of jobs each day and the temp­ta­tion was to cut cor­ners to achieve tar­gets, but that’s not the way we do things at Hem­mels.”

He said even the ap­proach­ing Brexit did not worry them although they don’t carry huge parts stocks.

“We im­port parts from Ger­many on a just in time prin­ci­ple but even if they are held up a few days at HM Cus­toms that’s not a is­sue when a car takes a year to build.”

The qual­ity of Hem­mels work­man­ship has been recog­nised by Mercedes-Benz and Hem­mels will sup­ply a model for ex­hi­bi­tion for them. Im­por­tantly, all re­gen­er­a­tion mod­els carry a 12 months full war­ranty.

Af­ter each re­build ev­ery model is com­pre­hen­sively road-tested by the Hem­mels engi­neers to make sure it per­forms as it should be­fore it’s signed off and the com­pany’s own badge is added to the car.

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