The specialist: N Sandell

| 25 Oct 2023
Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: N Sandell

“We see ourselves as a baby Rolls-Royce and Bentley main dealer,” says Nigel Sandell, who for the past 25 years has run N Sandell, now one of only three Bentley and Rolls-Royce specialists in the Greater London area.

Originally established to care for Silver Shadows, T1/T2s and the later Silver Spirit/Mulsanne lines, the business has expanded in recent years following Bentley’s own growth spurt.

Continental models, with their complex W12 engines and all-wheel-drive transmissions, now share workshop space with the more traditional, Crewe-built cars from the pre-Volkswagen Group and BMW era.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: N Sandell

N Sandell’s five-ramp workshop is equipped to main-dealer standards, and caters for Rolls-Royce and Bentley models old and new

“We offer a good, old-fashioned service, where the word ‘no’ is not an option,” says Nigel.

“We pride ourselves in giving good value and complete transparency.”

The firm’s current 1500-strong customer database is punctuated by some high-profile names, including The Grand Tour presenter James May, for whom Nigel located a Bentley T2 that he now maintains.

N Sandell also counts international leaders among its clients, looking after cars for both Ghanaian and Moroccan royalty.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: N Sandell

The state-of-the-art Bentley tool cupboard has all the bases covered

Nigel’s passion for Rolls-Royce and Bentley stems from 20 years spent working for main dealers and specialists in the London area, before going it alone.

“We started in a 16ft by 20ft lock-up, mainly dealing with the wedding fraternity, propping up cars held together with sticky-back plastic and cable ties,” Nigel says.

“We now have state-of-the-art equipment and can carry out complex work on Shadows in-house. It also means we can take on newer models.

“We have five ramps, identical to Jack Barclay’s, a complete Bentley tool cupboard and even a bespoke engine table for the W12 Continentals.”

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: N Sandell

An axle overhaul for a Rolls-Royce Shadow can be carried out in-house

That last item is vital for the removal of the W12 engine, which comes out from under the car and involves a delicate, six-person operation to avoid damaging pipes and ancillaries.

The availability and cost of parts differs markedly between models, presenting further challenges.

“Shadow parts are plentiful, and for the Spirit,” says Nigel.

“It’s more difficult when it comes to the Arnages and Seraphs, and the first-generation [Continental] GTs, where doors are no longer available; you’re reliant on breakers.”

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: N Sandell

A Rolls-Royce Wraith on the ramp at N Sandell

N Sandell works closely with Wimbledon-based Rolls and Bentley parts specialist IntroCar, which remanufactures obsolete items.

“IntroCar now gives us components to test before they go on sale,” adds Nigel. “One way or another, we can find a way around any parts shortages.”

Nigel’s expertise is centred on mechanical work, but the business has long-standing relationships with local specialists who carry out bodywork repairs and work on wood, leather and chrome.

“We’re not restorers,” says Nigel, “but N Sandell is a one-stop shop. It’s important to offer a complete service.”

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: N Sandell

Some parts no longer available are remade by local specialists

However, Nigel’s experience with Rolls-Royces and Bentleys has led to him undertaking restorations in his own time.

“I’m chairman of the Middlesex section of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club,” he explains.

“The 1936 25/30 that I restored has just won its class at an RREC concours, and was runner-up to the Best in Show.

“I received the club’s Le Touquet Trophy for best club member in 2022-’23, too.”

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: N Sandell

N Sandell has thrived, expanding into two units at its Isleworth base, in Greater London

Nigel also owns a 1979 Shadow II – on which he has lavished 600 hours of restoration work – and a ’97 Silver Spur.

But there are no plans to expand beyond the current base in the west of London.

“Getting bigger doesn’t necessarily mean more profit, and we risk losing the personal touch,” says Nigel.

“We’re of a size where I can still enjoy working with these amazing cars.”

Images: John Bradshaw

The knowledge

  • Name N Sandell
  • Address Unit 7-8, Isleworth Business Complex, St John’s Road, Isleworth TW7 6NL
  • Specialism Post-war Bentley & Rolls-Royce servicing and repairs
  • Staff 10
  • Prices £115/hr
  • Tel 020 8758 2322
  • Web

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