Classic Car Articles
B - Restored Automotive Restorations
“When I started out by myself the business was 90% smash repairs and 10% restorations. So I set out to change it to the other way around. I’m glad I did as I am no longer reliant on insurance companies. Plus! It’s far more important to me, and the restoration work is highly satisfying and enjoyable” Phillip Lowe answered in response to the question why he was in the restoration business.
Phillip Lowe started in the motor vehicle body repair business at 15 when he commenced his apprenticeship. That’s now 35 years ago and while he is still in the business he likes to think his days of ‘remove and replace’ are long behind him. Phillip was fortunate to be able to start his apprenticeship under the watchful and caring eye of his father, Ross. It was an all round panel beating business, but always had a customer’s restoration project tucked away in the corner for times when it was a little quiet. Such cars included Morris Cooper S, Torana Hatchbacks and a couple of pre-war front engined Ford V8 powered racing cars. It will come as no surprise that it was always expected that Phillip would take over the business when Ross retired, which happened in 2004.
As happens in the automotive repair business, those involved become quite involved, and both Ross and Phillip are classic car owners themselves. Ross has a couple of Bolwells as well as a MG TF and like father, like son Phillip also has a Bolwell.
So after a little deliberation following dad’s retirement Phillip made the conscious decision to focus more of his attentions on classic car restorations. Phillip says he distinctly remembers the first car that came through the door in need of his care - a Lotus Escort Mk1. That was soon followed by a Bolwell Nagari as the word had got around of his expertise when it came to fibreglass.
There have been numerous classic cars since, such as Porsche 911s, Lotus Exige, LJ Torana, 1967 Mustang and a couple of 1968 Chev Camaros. Some have needed a complete restoration while others just a repair to a rusted or damaged panel. The Exige was of particular interest as the owner wanted a snorkel to allow extra air into the cockpit and Phillip was only too pleased to oblige. Another interesting project was a XW Falcon that had been modified to accept a much larger V8. When it came to Phillip it had received an extensive modification to the front cross member to clear the sump of the engine, so much so that it was quite unsafe. To ensure safety and passing WA’s motor vehicle regulations Phillip had to completely rebuild the cross member that included the letting in of appropriate gauge steel.
At the other end of the scale was the fitting of a functional air-scoop to the bonnet of a Dodge Charger. This meant the forming of the scoop out of fibreglass, cutting the hole in the bonnet and then joining them both. An interesting job according to Phillip, especially when it came to ensuring that it looks as it they were joined together from new.
Phillip works alone, except when Ross comes in occasionally to assist and says that his business is very well equipped. First of all there is the latest inverter Pro Spot welder, which in Phillip’s expert hands provides factory type welds. Phillip also has a Data Liner chassis straitening system that is incorporated with a laser beam so that perfect alignment is ensured. There are of course the customary TIG and MIG welders and of course B-Restored Automotive Restorations also has Phillip’s expertise.
Phillip undertakes all panel preparation leading up to painting. He uses a trusted spray painter who when he receives the vehicle, just adds a further coat of primer, blocks back and then finishes.
When Classic Car Gurus spoke to Phillip Lowe he was pleased to say that he had a number of cars scheduled to receive his care over the next few months. These include another Porsche 911, a couple of EH Premiers and a HK Monaro. In between these there is also an Austin Big 7 and another Austin 7.
However, Phillip assured us that there is room for one or two more. If you would like to have a chat with Phillip about your needs, please call him on (08) 9379 8693.
Words by Patrick Quinn