Restoration Road Trip

I was one of the early members of the TVRCCNA, having been recruited by the founder, Marq Ruben, in the early 1980’s.  If my memory is correct, I was member number 47.  I re-joined the TVR Car Club of North America a few years ago, when I began thinking about restoring one of my cars.   That was a smart decision, since I have met a lot of great folks in the Club who are truly interested in helping me to get another TVR back on the road.

The decision to restore a classic car is like taking a seriously long “Road Trip”.  Before you start the journey, you need to develop a plan for where you want to go, with whom you want to go, and what you are interested in achieving along the journey.

My plan was to restore my 1978 TVR Taimar that I acquired in in 1984 from the original owner, Walter Henderson.  The car was in decent condition, but over the years it had started to show its age–especially since it was my daily drive for several years.

I would commute from Alexandria to downtown Washington, DC when I worked at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of the National Capital Area.  Summer commuting was especially  interesting in the TVR.  My car was equipped with air conditioning, but it never worked.  As a matter of fact, I found several TVR owners with air conditioned cars, but never one in which the AC worked.

The exterior of the car is a two-toned light brown over dark brown with a matching sunroof.  Not my favorite color combo and something I knew wanted to change with the restoration.  Oddly, in my hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, there was a second TVR Taimar with the exact same color scheme.  With only 395 Taimars built, the probability of two TVRs within miles of each other was very low.  Throw in the same color scheme and you start approaching a probability of zero.

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The next step was to determine the level of work that I wanted to have done to the car.  Did I want to go as far as a body off frame restoration with rebuilt/new mechanicals and interior?  Or, would I be satisfied with a good paint job and some mechanical work.  I decided the TVR was worth the full restoration.

Now, I needed to decide the team that I would take on this “Road Trip.”  This was an easy decision for me.  My brother, Robert, and his good friends, Tim and Allan, are some of the best in the restoration business and a TVR would be a first for them.  Robert had restored many Corvettes and is a master with fiberglass, so a TVR would not be too challenging for this team.  Tim is the overall guy, with many talents and a real passion for restorations, and Allan is an excellent mechanic and restorer. Their company is Marshall Restoration in Marshall, Virginia.

Parts are always an issue when you are restoring a classic automobile and especially when the car is in limited production.  That’s why I’m fortunate to have Dominion Spares LLC sourcing parts for this project.  The owner, Bill Rachal, is a hard-working and dedicated professional with a passion for all TVRs and Griffiths.

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Bill Rachal (right) and two friends showing off a new replacement bumper for an M-series.  

With the body, frame, mechanicals and parts team assembled, I still needed an engine builder for the “road trip.”  After searching for machine shops and engine builders, I decided to go with Mad Engineering in Warrenton, Virginia.  Few engine builders have the experience of Lee Day, the owner of Mad Engineering.  Lee has been in drag racing since the early 80’s and has built some of the most competitive race engines.

The final destination on the “road trip” is the upholstery and I had been searching for someone that had done work on TVRs.  The search lead me to, Paul Cho, the owner of Paul’s Custom Interior.  His work is outstanding, his reviews are some of the best in the business and he completed a stunning 1969 TVR Vixen S2.  It will be exciting to get to this point in the road trip, but until then, I intend to savory the whole process and, hopefully, make it easier for the next person that decides to restore one of these cars.

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Paul Cho’s interior work.  Check out www.newpci.com for more photos.