Kip McIntyre’s Churchill Fellowship on traditional restoration in coach-building and panel beating


(soft music) – I’m Kip McIntyre, 2016 Winston Churchill
Fellowship recipient. My fellowship was to go
and study the rare craft of coach building and panel
beating in America, England, Italy and Germany. I think I’m quite lucky
that I get to do a job that a lot of people kind of envy. It doesn’t seem like a job, like I just swing hammers
and at the end of the day, and at the end of the day
hopefully have a cool car made. Mechanical isn’t really my thing. I don’t like making cars go but I like making them look good (soft music) (engine revs) The decisions to apply for
a Fellowship came about because I felt that I had kind of run out of avenues of
places I could go to work to learn what I could
from other tradesmen. Going from panel beating and stepping it up that next level to coach building and proper restoration, It’s a very different technique to what I started out learning in just ordinary smash repair. You have to go back to the
older techniques and learn the old ways of the craft
and achieve the results that they would have used originally on say an old Rolls-Royce or Bugatti, or anything like that. I think it would definitely be the lack of those craftsman here
in my area that led me to venture out and expand my horizons to other places to get
that knowledge and skill. My project was to really
travel around the world to see the different ways that everyone kind of achieves essentially the same result restoring classic cars and building bodies for cars and learn all I can, and come back, and create my own way of doing it. And using the best of everything. Probably the highlight of my fellowship would have been meeting some
really incredible craftsmen. Also realising that you don’t just have to be a
tradesmen in what you do. You can really find
like the artisanal craft of every trade, really, they all stemmed from
something quite incredible to start with and you
don’t have to lose that. You don’t have to just be
a panel beater, really. You can restore old
Rolls-Royces or Ferraris instead of Toyota Corollas and Mazda 3s and that sort of thing. The one thing that really stood out to me was that I never realised how useful a power hammer would be. I didn’t realise the quality of a job that they could create, considering we don’t have
them in Australia, really. It’s about two metres tall and
about two and a half tonnes. And it’s an old cast piece of machinery that has been around since
like the early 1920s. It was used for shaping
all sorts of metal, whether it’s from automotive
panels to aircraft. to tin pans and kettles to
anything they really needed to make sheet metal out of. My first experience was
quite eye opening to see how good they were. And also getting the
change to actually see some of the most impressive cars in the world, while at car shows in different museums like going to lots of the different shows like the Pebble Beach
Concours and Goodwood Revival, going to the Petersen museum. It really opens your eyes
to realise what sort of cars are actually out . You go to a car show in Australia and you’ve Holdens,
Fords, Aussie classics, a few American muscles, a
few old Jaguars and Austins and that sort of thing but you turn up at one of these old shows and this just really incredible cars that just come out of the
woodwork that you don’t really get to see in Australia. (jazz music) My trip started off with a flight
to Massachusetts in America where I spent about six days
with a man named Wray Schelin from Pro Shaper. He actually offers like coach
building courses to anyone that wants to attend and I
thought I’d start off there because he has a pretty
unique little concept where he doesn’t really
just train one school of what he does, he has a power hammer, he has English wheels, he has Italian-based
metal shaping techniques. And he really has decided, well, if I’m going to teach the
world how to shape metal, I need to have a crack at every single way and figuring out which one’s the best. So, he’s done them all and he’s
come up with what he thinks the best but he’s still
keeps all the equipment there for anyone that wants
to have a go at using whatever they haven’t used before. That was a great way to kick off my trip. So, from there I flew to San Francisco and then drove down Highway
1 to get to Monterey which I where Monterey Car Week is. Monterey Car Week is
probably the biggest car show you’ll ever find in the world. It’s where the best of the best classic cars are put on show and they have biggest
concours in the world. It was the Pebble Beach concours. Cars there can be in excess
of 40 million dollars 50 million dollars for a
car and yeah they get judged on how well preserved or
how well restored they are and the year I went was the
year for the Isotta Fraschini. Any any car that generally gets asked to attend at Pebble Beach,
it generally has a story that goes along with
the car, it’s not just. “Oh, this is a nice Ferrari.” It is, ” This Ferrari
was owned by so and so “and raced in this historic race,” and you can actually trace
that specific car’s history to the day it left the workshop. Every car has its very
own special little story. So, having the opportunity to see some of those cars, talk to
the owners of those cars, to the guys restoring them. Yeah it was really eye opening, we just don’t have anything
quite to a standard like that in Australia (engine roars) Yeah, while I was at Pebble
Beach I was lucky enough to attend different
forums with guest speakers such as the classic car
designers of the 60s, hearing the take of what goes
into designing these cars. I heard from people like Wayne Carini who’s well known in the classic car world, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, all
spoke about their experiences with classic cars and also
Jacky Ackx, Formula One driver. Yeah, so hearing everyone’s
different takes on the industry, the cars and their experiences that was really special moment
for me, getting to sit there and listen to all of them talk. – Good afternoon sir?
(engine roars) (upbeat music) – So, after Pebble Beach I
kept driving down the coast to Los Angeles where I spent about a week working alongside Steve Hoag from Steve Hoag enterprises. He’s a little one man shop,
he’s well known for his work with Porsche 356s. He knows them like the back of his hand. He’s continually always doing 356s along with a few other things. But because he has that repetition, you start to get quite
efficient at that style of work rather than if you were
trying to do one Bugatti and then a Mercedes and then a Ferrari like it’s learning on every job. He was definitely the quickest worker that that I’ve spent time with. He was able to pretty
much put a whole tail end of a 356 together in a day which would normally take quite a while. From there, I did day trips Where I went and met Rod Emory who is known for doing Porsche 356 outlaws or hot rods, something that’s not normally done in classic car world in that area is, yeah, chopping them up and doing all sorts of
modifications to them then but it’s what his
reputation is known for and he’s known worldwide
for it and has a big demand for his work. He was interesting to see
because he implements a lot of new technology in car restoration, 3D printing, 3D scanning
and that sort of thing whichdefinitely has a
lot of advantage nowadays in a craft like this. In days gone by you used
to have to make a buck which is like the form that you would make your panel to, you would
make that out of timber and make it by hand, and you
would scale it up from drawings or photos of a car which is
incredibly time-consuming. You can spend thousand hours
before you pick up a piece of metal to make a panel. Whereas nowadays, if you’ve got anywhere from even just like a one 10th scale model of a car, you can get
really accurate 3D scanning of that, scale it up on the computer, send that to a CNC company
and they’ll cut out all the forms for you and you
just put them together like a jigsaw puzzle and
start making essentially. So, he’d would draw up
a door handle design or a wheel design and with 3D modelling
software, and then he’d hit the print button which
would go to a 3D printer, and he’d print out a whole wheel, and he’d have that wheel
made out of plastic, and he’d go and bolt it on
the car, and he’d stand back, and look at it and go, “Yeah, like that, I don’t like that, “I can just tweak something,
print it out again.” All these tooling costs
and that sort of thing, very cheap to do a prototype of something before you then go and make it for good because it’s an expensive
craft to start with. It’s expensive to restore these cars, so anyway to make it more
streamlined and efficient is definitely going to help, whether it’s just making
it cheaper for people or actually making a restoration
attainable for someone. After that I went over and
met Jay Leno at his place. I pulled into the driveway
and there’s Jay Leno and turned out Magnus Walker who is a famous Porsche
Ambassador at the moment and all of a sudden it
was two idols in one day and are walking around, checking out just some of
the most incredible cars you’ve ever seen from
steam-powered fire engines to Lamborghini Miuras, to
electric powered things to anything you could think of and then motorbikes and jet-powered cars and that sort of thing. It was a really incredible collection. Talking to him about where he sees the classic car industry going, he has an interesting sort of take on it about cars these days. He believes that they’ll
almost be unrestorable when it comes to wanting
to restore something, I mean when when cars
have lasers and computers, and cameras looking out and
all these computer modules, and there’s just so many
people that would be involved to try and restore one
of those cars when all that sort of stuff starts to break down. Yeah, like it just to go
in and do a general service on a new Ferrari is you need
a tool that cost $25,000, just to plug in and talk to the computers. So, to restore a car like
that when it’s been run down will be very interesting. So, yeah, that’s definitely
worth thinking about for the future of car restoration and yeah, I think I ended up
spending a about six hours in Jay Leno’s collection,
walking around and helping out, and I thought I’d overstayed my welcome. and I was walking over
towards Jay Leno to say, “Oh, thank you for having
me and I appreciated it,” before I could get that out, he said, “Oh, Are you hungry?” I said, “Sure, sure, why not.” He goes, “Let’s go get lunch, eh?” And he goes, “You guys you guys have a thing called “a Hungry Jack or something.” I said, “Yeah.” He goes, “I think that’s
what we call Burger King.” He goes, “Have you had that?” “I said, “No.” So he goes, “Righto, let’s go to Burger King? “I’ll show you what Burger King is.” I said, “righto.” So, we jumped in his brand new Tesla, he was quite impressed
by this brand new Tesla that he’d got. Yeah, so we we jumped in the car, we did drive through at
Burger King with Jay Leno which is one of those moments
you’re sitting in the car and ordering a meal and you just go, “How have I ended up here
from swinging hammers “in Brisbane to cruising around
Hollywood with Jay Leno.” It was definitely a wow moment. Yeah, so after that we
did a little bit more work on these Duesenberg and
I thanked him profusely for everything he did. And yeah, I went back on my
way and did a few more days with Steve Hoag. I also went and visited
the Petersen Museum, just the range of cars they
have is really incredible. The main thing I wanted to
see at the Petersen museum was actually a car
called a Bugatti top 64. It was a car that was never built. As coach building works, you would have a set of chassis made and Jim Bugatti he got two
bodies made that he designed, so he would design the
first body, got that made, design the second body, got that made but then he was unfortunate to pass away before he got to make the third body. So, that Chassis sat for decades on end with nothing happening with it, just sitting in storage
until about 2012, I believe. A man got hold of that and he decided that it needed a body for it. Say, “What would Bugatti have designed?, “What was the next step?” So, we know what was up until that mark and we know what followed on
from that car, and he goes, “what would that little
middle car have looked like?” And so they came up with a design and they got Mike Kleeves
from Automobile Metal Shaping in Detroit to commission and
build that body for that car. So, they actually then
proceeded to make the body and yeah, that was a car
that I fell in love with. The story of and the way it
looked in the way it was made. After leaving the Petersen Museum, I flew over to Detroit to
actually work with Mike Kleeves from Automobiles Metal Shaping
that built that Bugatti. I spend a week and a half
with him and his team, and I think that was
probably the best time of my entire trip. They have understanding of the craft, their passion is like nothing
I’ve ever seen before, they not only just like
to make the panels, they have an entire woodworking
shop set up for making the ash would frames and
then they decided they needed to make different
brackets that were forged and that sort the thing. So, they created a forging
room and that sort of thing. Every bit of equipment that
any factory generally used to middle shape cars. They went in, they sourced it and they got all the original equipment, and set up the most incredible
workshop you’ll ever see. To match their workshop, they have a library that would
probably be almost the size of the workshop that I’m in now. One of the most exciting
things about working with them would have been seeing the
Pettingell power hammer. The Pettingell was designed
in the early 1900s. It’s a beautiful old cast machine that, they managed to have about I think they’ve got six power
hammers at the workshop ranging from the earliest one they own is about 1925, I believe. Hans Stahling is actually one
of the guys that works there. And I spent a lot of time
working alongside him, learning from him and in his spare time, he actually has decided to put the Pettingell power
hammer back in a manufacturer. He hasn’t tried to update
it and make it cheaper or any different or yeah, he has cast the, made the original patents and cast exactly to the way
that they way it still uses the leather clutch, yeah. Everything about it is
as it was in the 20s Yeah, so, it was incredible
seeing that history and then it being brought
back to life for the rest of the world to
essentially get their hands on this lost equipment to continue to make some incredible parts off it. Once I was finished up at Detroit that was, that marked the
end of my time in America and I was told to move to the UK. When I got to the UK,
I worked with the guys at Southan Metalcraft. While I was there, I helped
out with making a timber buck for about a 1926 Riley Nine prototype but the interesting thing
about that car was that it was, we believe that it
might not actually ever existed. It was only three photos
that we could ever find of it, yeah. we think the photos
were all just a simple mock up at the front of the Riley factory and just wheels leaning up against a body, not sitting on a chassis properly and I think it was just a
kind of a way for them to say, “Oh, we’ve made this incredible car,” but then not actually then
have to follow through with it. And you can kind of see in the
photos that the the guy sitting in the car have a smirk on the face and we’ve decided it’s because they know that it’s all a hoax. Yeah, from there I was
lucky enough to then go and spent about…it was
probably a bit over a week I spent the Aston Martin factory. I did a tour of the new
Aston Martin facility and then I then proceeded to
go back to the original factory that all the early hand
built Astons were built in in Newport Pagnell, and that’s where if you have an old Aston, it’s kind of like a coming home with it’s, it goes back to that same facility that it was originally hand built in, gets restored and rolls
back at the exact same doors that it would have first come out of. You definitely feel like
you’re part of history there because they’re doing
repetitive work of Aston DB5s or DB3s threes, they can
afford to spend a lot of money on tooling, so the bucks
that they had were, like they were CNCed out of
solid nylon in the front end. So, instead of having just station bucks, it was an exact sculpture in
all nylon that you can work to which is, yeah, I almost
priceless when you’re making a panel but kind of unattainable
for someone that’s making a one off car but so being
lucky enough to work on a bit of tooling like that was incredible. So, from there I then went
to Roach Manufacturing, their quality is really impressive. The finish on their work just comes up like an absolute mirror. Their attention to detail
and the re-creation work is really impressive and
it’s well known worldwide. I made some finish for a little Austin while I was there with them. (jazz music)
(engine roars) I visited quite a few car
shows and that sort of thing while I was there which
was great to see the way that they put on shows
and they kind of get a lot of the public involved
in that sort of thing. (engine roars) So, from there I then went to Italy, I went and visited Ferrari,
Lamborghini, Ducati and also some of the best
Italian coach builders like Brandoli and Cremonini, and Marinel classics,
and that sort of thing. I knew before I went that
they would be very secretive about their work as I’d heard
from everyone when I said, “I’m going to Italy to
see what I can learn” They said, “You won’t
learn anything there. “No one will tell you anything. “They won’t even talk to you.” In a way, it was true. They were all excited to meet me. They all spent an hour
or two showing me around their workshop but none
of them were willing to teach me anything. It wasn’t the biggest shame
to miss out on working with them but it was great to
see the style of work they do. See the equipment they use
and that sort of thing, and how they use it. The plan was to spend
about three weeks in Italy but after a week of not getting
the chance to work anywhere. I was sitting at lunch and I decided… I actually called a guy, Torsten Walsdorff in Germany and I said, “is there’s any chance I
could come and visit you.” And he said, “Sure,
come whenever you want, “the door’s open.” (engine starts) (dramatic music) The interesting thing about Torsten, he actually bought a
company called Simonsen 356 which they actually
make reproduction panels with Porsche 356s. It was interesting seeing a company that does that as well as restoration. A lot of reproduction
panels I’ve always tried to steer clear of and just
make the panel from scratch by myself just because the standard of panel manufacturer
generally hasn’t quite been up to scratch on the quality of builds that I’ve been working on. Torsten’s motto in anything
he makes is to make an exact part that the
factory would have made and not kind of drop the quality
anyway just so he can get his reproduction panels out. While I was there he was
doing some final touches on a Porsche for an early 356 floor pan, and now there’s other
companies that make them, but he said throughout the period
those floor pans were made, they went through a few different styles and he said he actually tooled up so he can make every
single different style whether it was just a
slot indent in the centre or in two years later, it was meant to be two inches to the left. He tooled up to make every floor plan. So it is exactly the way that they came out of the factory. After I’d spent that time with Torsten, I jumped back in the car
because I had to fly back out of Italy, so I had few days to make it from Germany back to Italy, and they said, “Oh, you could go up over the Swiss Alps.” So, I could take that route or apparently the new tunnel cuts about four hours off the trip but I decided it was only
one chance to get to drive the Swiss Alps. I followed along behind a new Ferrari that was cruising around the Swiss Alps, and I was in a little
Fiat 500 that I had hired. And I think I followed that Ferrari, chased him around the Swiss Alps, probably about three hours. And once he pulled away, he pulled off. I checked my GPS and I
realised that pretty much at the start of following him, I’d gone the opposite direction
to where I needed to go. So, I went three hours out
of my way chasing a Ferrari. And I guess I had another
three hours to go through the Swiss Alps again,
by myself back the way I was meant to go. But that was a that was a
great experience to do that while I was there and had the opportunity. (upbeat music) I went over with a certain
set of goals of things I wanted to achieve from
undertaking the Fellowship and things I wanted to learn
and I found that I came back with much more than I was expecting. I formed relationships that I will cherish for the rest of my life that not only opened
up just for that fellowship, but any more questions
that I ever come up with. I can approach them and
continue on with the Fellowship. The initial Fellowship, I guess, lasted for 8 to 10 weeks. But that’s just a bit
when you’re overseas. It’s the bit that it actually
does in the background that you now have an understanding of anything’s achievable now
because of the Fellowship. It’s probably taking the
fear away or it’s let me know that everyone out there just wants
to do the same thing as me, really, like we all want to be craftsmen
and we all want to learn as much as we can. And yeah, I think that’s
probably a little bit of a model that I see for my future continuing. Forever learning is probably
one of my hobbies as well as making cool cars. (engine roars) I think one thing that I would share for the audience watching this, whether you’re a coach builder
or car restorer yourself, I would definitely encourage
you to seek out anyone that inspires you, whether it’s on Facebook,
just from reading articles or on Instagram, or whichever
media you’re getting your inspiration from, get in
contact with the people doing that work, they’re not someone up on a pedestal that he can’t talk to and you can’t ask questions. We’re all essentially the
same no matter where you live. Everyone wants to make
incredible things and everyone has a mutual respect for other people making incredible things. No matter what trade you’re in trying, try and find that artisanal craft whether it’s from restoring old roofs on historic buildings
and that sort of thing. You don’t just need to
build kit homes these days that are going up in all
these little estates, you can you can find that
original craft at once was and yeah, go down that
path and find the enjoyment I think that any trade
can really give you. That was a very important
thing that I learned from my trip was, I went to so many shows and it wasn’t just for the
people wanting to drive their cars, there were people
that wanted to watch the cars. It was an event for families
to come along to an experience like a snapshot of history
almost, and let them know that these things exist. There are people out there,
restoring them, using them and wanting to share them with the world. I think the Australian
Government needs to look at some of the legislation around the Special
Interest Vehicle Scheme. Kind of making it probably a bit easier for classic car owners to
get their car on the street to drive them to go get
coffee on a Sunday morning or to join club runs
and just use them more, get them seen by more people and enjoyed. If they get to the point
where they are so expensive to maintain and learn and
yeah then it makes it hard to get them on the road. I think the public loses
out and then in generations to come, we just won’t
have people interested in classic cars because
they never grew up knowing they were there, they wer
in someone’s basement. There’s nothing better than
when you’re six years old and you see some wooden-wheeled
car going down the road with four people in it, going for a picnic
somewhere in a T model Ford, like that’s stuff you’ll remember for the rest of your life. I’ve come back now and I’ve taken on some
school work experience kids that have come and spent some time that have shown interest in
maybe this is a career path that they’d like. I’ve
spent some time with them. I have an apprentice at
the moment who’s looking to really make something
out of the trade as well for himself, I have given a
bit of a brief talk at TEDx in Brisbane but yeah,
also have been talking with our apprenticeship
organisation here in Queensland about finding ways that
I’d be able to get involved and maybe open the eyes
of all the kids doing these apprenticeships that
would generally lead them on a path towards everyday
smash repair and kind of opening their eyes to realise that there’s a craft behind panel bearing. My Churchill Fellowship
definitely hasn’t stopped yet, it’s only opened bigger
doors and created more goals and more questions for
me to figure it out. And yeah, and it’s given
me that understanding that you don’t have to
wait to get an opportunity like this to go and achieve those things. It’s a matter of jumping on
the phone, calling the people, jumping on a plane. Flights are cheap enough. Go and visit these people,
they’ll open the doors and yeah, it’s definitely, the
information’s out there to get, it’s just a matter of
believing in yourself and going and getting it. (soft music) (jazz music) (upbeat music) – Find out how you can travel
the world to benefit Australia at churchillfellowships.com.au

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