Enthusiasts flock to north London restoration workshop

| 18 Sep 2017

Classic car fans from across the capital converged on Enfield on 17 September for the second Barnet and Southgate College Body & Paint Skills open day.

The college opened the doors of its paint and bodywork workshop, allowing visitors to explore the facility and learn more about the restoration process, which included demonstrations of machine polishing and paint spraying, with a black rubber bumper Midget and 1959 El Camino bonnet the test subjects. Dozens of enthusiasts turned out for the event, with many parking their classics at the front of the complex.

Among the vehicles on display were several Triumphs, a stunning MkV Jaguar and a rare modified Volvo 1800ES, with a strong showing from several car clubs. Among the groups who made the journey to Enfield were a group of friends who have embraced new technology – in this case the WhatsApp messaging app – in order to form the foundations for a new club. The friends currently operate under the Afro-Caribbean Classics/Sports Car Club, and brought along an MGB GT, Porsche 911, Porsche Boxster, Porsche 924S and a gleaming Datsun 260Z belonging to club founder Ray Blackwood.

“I’ve had classics for years now and go to a lot of shows, and there aren’t always a lot of Afro-Caribbeans,” said Blackwood. “Whenever we see each other we give a little nod, so I thought why not start a group? I made a Facebook group which didn’t work very well, then started a more successful WhatsApp group. We had our first meeting at Bromley, where we gathered 16 cars, and this is the second time we’ve got together.”

Blackwood’s 260Z started life in California before being imported to the UK two years ago. It has 54,000 miles on the clock which Blackwood believes to be genuine owing to the car’s fine condition. “It’s still got the original, unused jack in the boot,” he explained.

Charlie McCalla turned out in his 1988 Porsche 924S, which he has owned since Christmas and serves as his daily driver. “Back in the day I was always into old cars, Lotuses and Alfas and the like, but when I got older and could afford it I always bought moderns! I eventually bought a Scimitar GTE followed by a Sabre,” said McCalla. 

The Porsche 924S is the most recent addition to the petrolhead’s stable and has been in regular use for several months: “There’s a slight leak from the power steering, but apart from that it starts and stops as it should.”

Club Triumph also put in a strong showing at the event, with several members making the journey to Enfield to show off their cars, including club President Derek Pollack.

Charlie Deards arrived in Enfield hot off the back of completing the Club Triumph 10 Countries Run, though he’d swapped Stag for one of the last 2500S estates. “When I found the car it had been in a barn for 17 years, and had only one owner from new,” said Deards. “It’s been completely recommissioned and the engine has been lightly tuned, with a GT6 camshaft and a specially modified Chris Witor exhaust.”

The interior has also been altered to make for more comfortable long-distance touring, including fitting Alfa Romeo 156 front seats, while the suspension components have been Polybushed. Deards’ next project will involve fitting an overdrive gearbox. 

As well as offering visitors advice and quotations for bodywork repairs, project lead Kevin Haggarthy was also keen to promote the college’s latest course, which aims to teach enthusiasts the basics of vehicle panel and paint restoration. The six-week course will be run on Tuesday and Thursday evenings between 7-9pm and covers topics ranging from panel beating and shaping filler through to paint finishing and polishing. The course is priced at £375+VAT. 

The college also launched its own club at the event. The BSC Classics Club predominantly serves as a means of keeping in touch with events at the college, but members will also benefit from preferential rates for restoration and repair work, as well as discounts from neighbouring business Morelli, which specialises in automotive detailing. To sign up call 0208 443 3821 or email mary.ramsey@barnetsouthgate.ac.uk