The specialist: Clouds Hill Classics

| 24 May 2024
Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Clouds Hill Classics

An interest in classic cars was always on the cards for Colin Thomas, with a mechanic for a dad and a grandfather always tinkering with old cars.

His childhood was littered with various makes and models, such as Rover P5, Humber Hawk, Morris 8 and Ford Corsair, while a 1957 Cadillac 60 Special threw in a curveball that would later inspire his own passion for American cars.

Thomas’ first classic was a 1972 Rover P5B saloon and he cut his teeth in the early 1980s with an apprenticeship at his local Austin Rover dealership in Northampton.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Clouds Hill Classics

This Volkswagen Type 2 has its Solex carburettor tweaked by Colin Thomas

He continued to learn his trade at a number of garages until, in 1994, he decided to set up his own business.

From then until 2004 Thomas was contracted to carry out everything from valeting and delivery driving to servicing with Westaway Motors.

Filling spare time with other clients, he became involved with a less-than-reputable classic car ‘dealer’ – who proceeded to disappear with Thomas’ considerable financial investment.

Some might have opted to get a run-of-the-mill job instead, but the experience made Thomas even more determined to be his own boss.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Clouds Hill Classics

From campervans to sports cars, Clouds Hill Classics gets a variety of projects through the workshop door

The concept behind Clouds Hill Classics was born in 2007 with the help of friends Geoff and Jeanette Dawson.

The trio formed the basis of the business; Geoff hired a large barn close to Brixworth and the space was split to create a classic-car workshop and storage for up to 14 vehicles.

Using a Ford Explorer and trailer, Thomas would deliver cars across the country while the business slowly expanded.

Within two years, word of mouth recommendations meant that classics were queuing for workshop space.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Clouds Hill Classics

This Jaguar E-type is being recommissioned after standing for years

“It was time to move to the next stage,” explains Thomas. “We needed a proper workshop, one that was more permanent.

“So Geoff and Jeanette bought the old youth club in Brixworth.”

That was in 2013 and the business has only grown.

“Because we will work on almost anything classic and aren’t restrictive in our specialism,” he continues, “we’ve been fortunate enough to have some wonderful vehicles in the workshop.

“Everything from a 1947 Chrysler Town and Country to Willys Jeeps, ’60s Alfa Romeos, MGs and Rolls-Royces have come through the doors.”

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Clouds Hill Classics

The Lotus Seven S4 chassis is part of another longer-term rebuild

When we visited, the workshop was home to a 1972 Volkswagen Type 2 campervan and a 1973 Jaguar E-type V12 – the former in for a brake and suspension overhaul, a new distributor, a carburettor rebuild and electrical work; the latter being recommissioned.

A 1970 Lotus Seven S4 chassis was propped up against a wall, Twin Cam stripped ready for inspection.

A four-barrel Holley carb set-up from a ’69 AC Cobra was awaiting attention and a Jaguar Mk2 cylinder head was being worked on – the Cobra is Thomas’ ‘one I wish I could take home’ choice!

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Clouds Hill Classics

The Lotus Twin Cam engine is heading for comprehensive overhaul work

Clouds Hill Classics has excellent links with other specialists who can fulfil any demands that can’t be done in-house.

“We are very lucky in terms of our location,” Thomas says. “We have a fabrication shop and a precision engineering specialist within walking distance, so it’s easy, quick and cost-effective to get parts made.”

Thomas only runs one classic these days, a 1997 V8 Jaguar X300.

“Having time to work on your own cars is the problem,” he laughs.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Clouds Hill Classics

Classic cars are brought back to life at Clouds Hill Classics in Northamptonshire, UK

He’s previously owned everything from Austin and Alvis to Cadillac and Lincoln, and his dream classic is a Duesenberg.

The diary at Clouds Hill Classics is full, so it looks as if Thomas had the last laugh after that unscrupulous dealer.

“Determination always wins in the end,” he smiles before returning, spanner in hand, to the engine bay of the VW Type 2.

Images: Martin Port

The knowledge

  • Name Clouds Hill Classics
  • Address 10 Ironstone Way, Brixworth, Northamptonshire NN6 9PD
  • Staff Three
  • Specialism Classic finder service, sales, collection and delivery, plus repairs and servicing of all classic cars from the 1930s to the ’90s
  • Prices £40 per hour (no VAT)
  • Tel 07779 773265
  • Web
  • Email


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