O'Rourke Coachtrimmers & Supplies

1927 Amilcar C6.

Interior RestorationsAlexander PinkComment

We have recently been entrusted with fabricating and trimming the interior of this wonderful 1927 Amilcar C6.  New seats were custom made to the car and owner with new seat foams to maximise comfort. We then trimmed the seats to the customer's specification. The next stage of the project involved fabricating knee rests to protect the driver and passenger from the bodywork that protruded into the cockpit. The final stage was to create a headlight cover to protect the single lamp from stone chips when not in use. 

It was an incredible project to be involved with, this car is truly stunning with jewellery level details everywhere you look.

The history of this car has been well-documented; The first of six Amilcar C6’s brought into Britain for sale by the sole concessionaire, Vernon Balls, it appears as a September import in 1927. A photograph was taken of it near Balls’ office and used in his advertisement, when he tried – without success - to market it as a sports-car by adding various items for road use, including an ugly windscreen, a spot-lamp, a hood and an electric starter, none of which had anything to do with the factory.

Early in 1928 it was bought by a syndicate of Cambridge students and within three or four months the hood, spot-lamp and windscreen had disappeared. Driven by A.S. Llewellyn, Bob Porter and Brian Twist the car had considerable success at various hill-climbs and race meetings.

After the students had disposed of the car in 1931 it was raced briefly and unsuccessfully by Maurice Falkner, who damaged the engine and sold the car via Balls “for spares” to an engineer well-known in Amilcar circles, the Russian E. P. Zerekidze. He carried out a number of modifications at his company in Harrow, Z. N. Motors. The differential was removed and the engine rebuilt: longer rear springs were fitted to increase the wheel-base by 7”, and he made various special parts for the engine. He also lightened the chassis radically, and on the engine even machined off the Amilcar logo on the camshaft-covers. A photograph dated 1933 shows the rolling chassis in this form with the second of Zere’s three versions of remote gear-change. Zere is said to have hidden the dismantled car in his attic in Harrow, perhaps to escape the attentions of prowling government scrap-metal collectors.

At that time most of the body disappeared, presumably it was too bulky to hide inside his house with the rest of the car, which in 1949 was offered for sale and bought by the TNC syndicate, John Tozer, Peter Tozer, Ron Narramore and Rex Clutton.

What little remained of the body was scrapped and replaced with a basic light-alloy frame and shell, and various modifications made to the engine to increase its competitiveness. With Tozer’s careful race-preparation the car became extremely successful in competition.

In 1962 11014 was sold to the Lyndhurst brothers, passing through the hands of several owners before being acquired by the present owner in 2010. By that time comprehensive attention was needed to most of the engine, drive-train and chassis.

Over time old racing cars are “up-dated” to maintain their competitiveness: in restoration the dilemma is to what form they should be restored.  

In this case the decision was taken to return the car to original factory specification wherever possible while accepting irreversible changes. Zerekidze’s lightening-work on the chassis cannot be un-done, but otherwise the car has been brought back to factory-specification while including Ball’s 1927 additions and one or two noteworthy items fitted in 1933 and 1950.

After restoration of the rolling chassis a brand new replica body was built, but then an original one from a C6 found in Berlin in 1958 became available. Its owner had been interested primarily in performance, and discarded the steel body in favour of a light-alloy copy.

The 90-year old original body was in a bad way and had perhaps been in a fire: nonetheless, with much work, skill and time it was restored to a high standard and fitted to the chassis, returning this historic racing car to correct and original specification, while incorporating a few important additions fitted during its life.

This significant racing car has returned to life after seven years of painstaking restoration and is now correctly clothed in original Amilcar C6 coachwork. 

The car has recently been displayed at the Royal Concours at Hampton Court Palace.

Finally we would like to thank the owner for providing the story of the car's history and the period photographs and Thornley Kelham for recommending us to undertake the work.

Salon Privé 2017.

EventsAlexander PinkComment

Blenheim Palace once again hosted Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance where some of the finest classic and modern cars were displayed on the perfectly manicured lawns. This year's event had two concours events, the traditional Concours d’Elégance and Concours Masters tribute to 70 years of Ferrari. 

Of the cars entered into the Concours d’Elégance, we had two clients showing their cars.

The first was a 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB California Spider, restored by DK Engineering who entrusted us with the retrim, photos of the finished car can be found here. The car was awarded with runner-up best in show and a class win in the Concours d’Elégance. In the Concours Masters it was awarded the La Dolce Vita award. 

The second, was a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB/2 Short Nose, re-trimmed earlier in the summer by us. This car was awarded the Chairman's Choice Trophy. More pictures of this car and interior can be found here.

Moving onto Saturday, the Masters Concours Tribute to 70 Years Of Ferrari took place, in this event we had 5 cars displaying our work, all of which achieved an award.

First up was the incredible Ferrari 250 TDF, the first of nine 14-Louvre cars. This example famously featured in the Disney film "The Love Bug". The car was awarded top prize, the Owner's Choice trophy. Pictures here and story to follow soon in our news feed.

Next was a 1956 Ferrari 500TR, last year's winner of Best In Show was awarded with the trophy for Outstanding 4-Cylinder.

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Followed by a 1962 Ferrari 250 SWB which features an amazing special order interior with several details not seen on any other 250 SWB, this received the Outstanding 12-Cylinder trophy. More photos can be found here.

Last and by no means least, this wonderful Ferrari Dino 246 GTS "Flares & Chairs"  that we re-trimmed a couple of years ago, this amazing car collected the Outstanding 6-Cyclinder award. Pictures can be found here.

1970 RHD Ferrari Daytona.

Interior RestorationsAlexander PinkComment

We recently completed a sympathetic restoration of the interior of a rare and very original 'Plexiglass' Ferrari 365 GTB/4 'Daytona'. Our brief was preservation over replacement and therefore we retained as many of the original materials and fabrics as possible because the original interior was completely untouched bar new but incorrect floor mats. This project gave us a new set of challenges but proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable.

The interior laid out after being removed from the car.

The interior laid out after being removed from the car.

We dyed the original mousehair on the dashboard as the original had turned almost white in some places.

We carefully removed the original leather steering wheel cover and replaced the crumbling inner with our remanufactured steering wheel foam, before re-fitting the cover and precisely re-stitching it.

The original sun visors and headlining required little more than a gentle clean, the rest of the interior vinyl required more of a deep clean and in some areas repairs were required as the original covers had some light wear and tear.

All of the leather trim was cleaned using O'Rourke interior care products and treated with our soon to be released leather softening oil and then protected with our leather sealant. 

Sadly the cabin carpets were beyond saving, but as we supply Italian wool carpet we were able to perfectly match the original colours. So we set about templating and remaking all of the cabin carpets, we also supplied our correct remanufactured rubber heel mats for a Plexi Daytona which differ from the later pop-up headlight cars.

1958 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta "Tour de France" interior restoration.

Interior RestorationsAlexander PinkComment

The re-trim of this iconic Ferrari was entrusted to us at O'Rourke Coachtrimmers with the simple goal of recreating the interior to as close to original as possible. With this knowledge we set about carefully dismantling the old interior with a forensic approach. During this process we had some really interesting and vital discoveries that led us to find that this car was originally trimmed in a very unique combination of red velvet and vinyl. 

According to the original factory build sheet the car left the factory with a red interior and was destined to be restored in red vinyl. However, when we removed the door panels we found remnants of original red velvet still attached under the existing non original trim. From this we managed to source new but correct material. This is an example of a standard restoration that quickly turned into a unique find in the classic Ferrari world!

Carefully removing the remnants of the red velvet from the original door card.

After the door panels we set about carefully removing the old seat covers which led to further evidence of the red velvet being used for the seat centers and inner side bolsters. The seats still had the original latex foam mouldings, these would normally show signs of flutes in the centres of the seats, however these mouldings had no lines or markings to suggest they were trimmed with flutes originally. 

The finished car went onto be displayed at the Salon Prive Concours in 2015 where it was awarded a Best in Class trophy. For more finished pictures please click here.

 

Ferrari 456 Daytona-style seat conversion.

Interior RestorationsAlexander PinkComment

This recently completed project is something a little different from us at O'Rourke, our client wanted to give the interior of his Ferrari 456M GT a subtle lift. He loved the Daytona-style seats that were an option originally for the car and asked if we could add them to his existing seats.

After talking through the options we decided against a full re-trim, as we could get a great leather match and instead settled on making new inserts in the much sought after Daytona style. 

The finished result transforms the cabin and adds a "classic" look and feel. For any more information please get in contact.

The interior on arrival.

The interior on arrival.

The finished commission. 

The finished commission. 

Salon Privé 2016.

EventsAlexander PinkComment

The team took a well earned trip to Salon Privé Concours, set in the picturesque gardens of Blenheim Palace. The lawns were graced with a fantastic selection of rare and beautifully prepared cars.

O'Rourke were proud to have four clients displaying their cars, with two receiving awards. The first of these was the Daytona belonging to Sarah and Nigel Allen that was awarded with a Second In Class and Best Interior, a very proud moment for the team, who wish to congratulate the owners.

The second was a magnificent Ferrari 500TR restored by DK Engineering who choose us to provide the interior, the car was judged to be Best In Show. Another extremely proud moment for the team, congratulations to the team at DK on a fantastic restoration.

A Mercedes 300SL Gullwing and a Ferrari 275 GTS also with O'Rourke interior's looked incredible on the lawn.

 

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Dymaxion

Interior RestorationsAlexander PinkComment

Recreating History.

One of most challenging, but rewarding commissions we have been responsible for carrying out was to recreate the complete interior of one of the most fascinating vehicles the world has seen. The car is question is the sole surviving Dymaxion Car. The car was the brainchild of famed American architect and engineer, Richard Buckminster Fuller (aka Bucky) inventor of the geodesic dome. Bucky worked with an expert in aero and nautical designer and engineer, Starling Burgess on the project. Built in 1933 at the 4D Dymaxion Car factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the Dynamic Maximum Tension car was a three-wheeled aerodynamically bodied vehicle which incorporated contemporary Ford mechanical elements such as the Model B V8 power plant. This was one of just three examples to be produced.

We became involved in the project via the world-renowned restoration company, Crosthwaite and Gardiner who in turn had been charged with producing detail perfect facsimile Dymaxion Car for British architect, Sir Norman Foster – previously a student of Bucky. The company was loaned the surviving Dymaxion Car, the second prototype, to refer to as a datum during the project, by the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada USA. While away from the museum this was the perfect opportunity to restore the car to its former glory.

The 20 foot-long car had fallen off the radar for close to three decades, and its fate was considered to have followed the two sister cars which no longer exist. Since being relocated, the car had been displayed with the windows painted over as what remained of the interior was in such poor condition. 

 

Dymaxion Car 2 pre restoration.

Dymaxion Car 2 pre restoration.

O’Rourke Recreation

We embraced the assignment we were briefed to undertake - the full sympathetic recreation of the original interior upholstery and paneling of the sole surviving original Dymaxion Car. This required significant research, working from what photographs, most of which were of poor quality, and any textile scraps we could locate remaining inside the vehicle after seven decades. Working from a tattered fragment of cloth we were able to ascertain the weave and colour of the material used. With this essential evidence in hand, our next step was to successfully locate a company able to weave new material accurately paralleling the original cloth. Obviously, with such a historically important vehicle, a true museum piece, a close match would never be close enough for us to put our name to! 

Our part in the restoration of the original Dymaxion Car is something we are very proud of indeed. This aided us in our next task… the creation of a complete interior for the recreation Sir Norman Foster was having produced. To have been responsible for the complete coach trimming on both of these enthrallingly radical vehicles is far more important to us than being representative of our abilities, as it highlights the fact we welcome a challenging assignment and having done so, feel duty-bound to deliver without compromise.

Keep your eyes peeled for a future piece on how we went about Car 3's interior creation.

Persistent Passion – Rorky’s story.

The ArchiveAlexander PinkComment

To refer to the well-known maxim following in his father’s footsteps is perhaps a good way to turn the ignition key and fire-up the story of Rorky’s automotive passion. Although, we must highlight the fact the prodigal son would ultimately leave the nest and become a fully-fledged authority in his field.

There is no getting away from the fact the person responsible for Rorky’s infatuation with cars is his father. But the writing was on the wall, as his father happens to be Kevin O’Rourke, the classic Ferrari restoration expert behind the superlative Surrey based marque specialist Mototechnique.

Rorky was born into it; he was raised on Dinos, Daytonas and dirt bikes. 

Digging through the family photograph albums you’ll find all the evidence you need – a young boy who is yet to reach the height of the roofline of the Ferraris he is standing proudly alongside. 

One of these has aged very well!

One of these has aged very well!

Rorky is clearly able to recount his first Ferrari memory; “it was helping my father when I was about 9 years old and he was working on Nick Mason’s 250GTO. He was repainting it and I helped by packaging all of the parts in bubble wrap. I was made aware the car was something very special, but only later in life did I realized just how special it was.  

"I also clearly remember being taken along to Modena Track Days at Goodwood, around this time and going round in cars either with dad and customers”. 

As you can imagine, Rorky never knew what car his father would arrive home in from one evening to the next, so would often run to the window to see what he was driving, as he explains; “My dad was always coming home in something special, such as the Panther De Ville”.

Picking the most memorable car of his childhood was easy and you’ll understand why…“I’ll never forget when he dropped me off at school in a white Lamborghini Countach, with matching interior. Mainly because I was very embarrassed!”

"you'll grow into those son".                                        First dirt bike, Italjet 50 circa 1978.

"you'll grow into those son".                                        First dirt bike, Italjet 50 circa 1978.

Weekend Worker.

The eagerness to be around his father’s workshop became magnetic and as he reached his teens he took on the role of Saturday Boy in 1984. Rorky became a knowledge sponge, he absorbed the characteristics involved in classic car restoration, learning the skills from talented experts in each area of the process. 

It must have felt very special to be working at such a young age on amazing vehicles, don’t you think? “I’ve been very lucky, but I’ve never known any different. Even when I did up my first Beetle when I was 17 years old, I didn’t appreciate how lucky I was to be learning skills from such expert craftsman’.

If you are of a certain age, you may have been a Saturday Boy or Girl yourself, but when was the last time you heard the term? Sadly, this country no longer seems to perceive any value in kids training for a working life. Does Rorky feel the role should be promoted once again, having started out this way? “Definitely! I feel it promotes character and instills appreciation of the value of both working for earnings and learning skills for your work. I feel it was a highly rewarding process for me”.

16 year old Rorky learning to gas weld.                        21 years old restoring his 356A.

16 year old Rorky learning to gas weld.                        21 years old restoring his 356A.

And your specialist subject is?

During those formative years, Rorky acquired knowledge and dexterity in the various areas involved with classic car restoration. He gained experience in metalworking, both in terms of accident and rust repair, so was able to weld and carry out body preparation. He also honed his mechanical and automotive electrical skills. However, there was one element of the process he became drawn towards above all, the upholstery. This became his focus and future.

What was it that made him choose to become a coach trimmer? “When I used to go to work for my father, all the trades involved in vehicle restoration surrounded me. I leant towards trim work; I liked Nick Artusa, the guy who handled the coach-trimming. The smells in the trim shop were better, possibly a little addictive! the work was quieter, cleaner and more instantly rewarding to me”.

Nick proved a very good mentor, helping Rorky learn more than simply the basics of his trade. He admits he learned by his mistakes, discovering the nuances of each of the materials he was working with. More importantly he found out who his worst critic was… himself! He continually sought to improve on his last achievement. However as Rorky reached the age of 19, Nick moved on from Mototechnique and full responsibility for the upholstery department was passed to him.

Ultimately, the prodigal son was to leave the nest and become a fully-fledged authority in his field.

Nick and Rorky in their snug trim shop.

Nick and Rorky in their snug trim shop.

High Standards.

Since O’Rourke Coachtrimmers was founded in 2002, when Rorky’s determined ambition to excel has resulted in the company reaching a very high level of acclaim in, knowledge, service and workmanship. 

To aid expansion, in 2015 the company was relocated to the current premises, however Rorky remains resolute, his company must offer the best service available from commission to completion. 

In terms of the actual upholstery this means exacting replication and in many cases replacement of authenticity, but also extends to bespoke creation to meet your personal wishes. This is only possible thanks to a life-long passion and the knowledge of the minutiae in detail only afforded to those with an unbridled experience working on numerous examples of handcrafted cars. 

Let’s end with a comment Rorky made himself whilst looking through those old family photograph albums we mentioned earlier, as we can think of no better way to show just how far he has come; ‘It’s funny, looking at these old photographs, how accepted standards have changed. What was acceptable back then would never be now’. 

The important thing is, the person who would not accept the level of standards in question might not be you!

Rorky inventing detailing in 1978.

Rorky inventing detailing in 1978.

Proud trimmer stands next to one of his first concours winning cars.

Proud trimmer stands next to one of his first concours winning cars.

Dirt bikes were a huge part of his childhood, 1986 Isle of man TT week motocross.

Dirt bikes were a huge part of his childhood, 1986 Isle of man TT week motocross.

He missed the 60's so re-lived them in 1992, by building and painting this one himself!

He missed the 60's so re-lived them in 1992, by building and painting this one himself!