Enquiries: 01206 264 111


Introducing our new three tier pricing

We understand that our customers are price and budget-conscious and that sometimes all you really want to do is to keep your car in reasonable condition without spending a fortune.

So, to help us to understand your needs, and the level of repair service you want right from the start we have introduced a new three-tier pricing structure. We hope it helps you to choose the right option for you.

Basic level

Sometimes, we know it really isn’t worth your spending a fortune on bodywork repairs.

Typically, the car will be older, perhaps at the “basic” end of the range for that model and not worth a great deal of money, but you need to keep it on the road and legal.

This could apply to, among others, young drivers just starting out and with an older car that is not worth a great deal, or to elderly people on a fixed income and with a car they are fond of and comfortable with.

For those who want this level of repair, Motts will do a good repair job while not compromising on safety issues, but we will tailor the work to your budget so that the outcome is sufficient for your needs.

Mid-range repairs

Perhaps you have an average car, second-hand or new, but have a reasonable amount of money to spend on body repairs.  If you are fond of the car and want to keep it the question to ask is how commercially viable is the spending you are prepared to make considering the car’s life expectancy and value.

The bodywork will of course still be carried out to our high-quality standards, but if replacement parts are needed we might source them for you second-hand or new, but not using factory parts.

Top level repairs

This is likely to be a new vehicle, valuable and much loved. It may be for personal or for business use. Repairs would be to the manufacturers’ standard using factory parts, if needed, and done absolutely by the book repair methods.

The time spent on the job will reflect the top-quality end result of the repair.

Help us to help you by considering your budget, what you want to achieve and by giving us this information at the start of the job so that we can provide you with the best, most efficient and cost-effective service.

Vehicle safety - your questions answered

Car safety has changed a great deal over the years and inevitably this has affected how they were constructed.

However, this often leads to our customers asking a lot of questions about repairs, so we’ve put together some common questions and explanations for you.

Why is it that after the slightest bump, even one that you haven’t noticed, the car seems to have disintegrated?

Cars used to be designed to be tough and strong. But while this was good for the car, it often wasn’t so good for the occupants in a collision. Gradually as the manufacturers have become more aware of the dangers and consequences design has been modified to put the passenger first, rather than the car.

There are parts of a car where this is more noticeable:

Bumpers and bonnets

Strictly speaking, it is no longer correct to call them bumpers, which were originally robust, metal bars that protected the front bodywork. Now, the fronts of most cars have what are called crumple zones,or “sacrificial panels” and while they may have to be replaced after an accident, they are less dangerous for the passengers inside or pedestrians.

Rigidity has been sacrificed for a very good reason because in a severe head-on collision the whole of the car’s front would be pushed backwards with serious consequences for front and back seat passengers.

BMW and others have further modifications such as bonnets fitted with special hinges which bend if the car is in a collision so that the bonnet will go under the windscreen rather than into it.

Another safety measure, introduced by Jaguar, was to remove its emblems from the bonnet because they were considered dangerous.

Side impact bars

This is another feature that has been implemented into the construction of cars to improve safety.  The reason is that in an accident where there was a side impact, passengers could not get out of the vehicle because the side impact bars would cause the doors to crumple and overlap. 


People often think that their airbags have failed when they haven’t inflated during a collision. However, you would only need their protection in a very severe accident and the misunderstanding with regard to airbag deployment is a harsh lesson learnt as if airbags themselves were to deploy they can cause some nasty injuries such as face burns and injuries to the nose or chest.

Airbags are not designed to inflate following an accident at moderate speed.

You can get a flavour of how much safer you will be in an accident in a modern car if you watch this video, which tests a car built in 1997 against a current car. https://youtu.be/kZE1kgz6eJo

Want to learn how to do a paint job properly?

Earlier this year we told you that we had set up an apprenticeship programme after we were approached by a young chap who wanted to learn more about traditional methods of car body repair.

We’re happy to report that Sam Green, 18, is doing well with his apprenticeship and has now completed six months.

We would like to hear from other young people who may be interested in getting the wide practical experience that our traditional five-year apprenticeship offers in car body repairs.

They can do this alongside their three-year college-based NVQ training, which is largely focused on modern repair work to current industry standards.

The practical experience at Motts will allow apprentices to work on a variety of vehicles from Maserati’s, Porches and Jaguars to Classics and Super cars as well as modern vehicles and by the end of their training will know how to strip back, restore and repair car body work rather than just replacing damaged panels. They will also be able to carry out the various stages of restoring paintwork.

Lawrence Motts, owner of Motts Body Repair and Motts Classic Vehicle Restoration, said: "The 80s saw the end of the (apprenticeship) as some will remember it. This was replaced with the modern apprenticeship program, YTS Schemes, and more recently NVQs.

“Sadly, the old skills required were lost in this transition and method repairs and modern vehicle techniques have led to a different kind of Vehicle Body technicians. Although repairing vehicles to recognised industry standards is essential, the standardisation the industry implemented, and the construction of modern vehicles, lends itself to a panel replacement, throwaway society, leaving the true skills of the Vehicle Body Repair technician in the past.

“Although modern training at college will provide tomorrow's vehicle repairers with a recognised industry qualification, 2 or 3 years’ day release will not teach them how to repair such vehicles as an e- Type Jaguar, or a Rolls Royce Phantom.

Anyone who would like to be considered for an apprenticeship should either email admin@mottsbodyrepair.co.uk with their CV or write to Motts Body Repair Ltd, Thrift Farm Barn,
Horkesley Hill, Colchester, Essex CO6 4JP or call 01206 264111


How many processes are there in a car’s paintwork?

An exact colour match is something most vehicle owners look for when they are having paintwork repaired and matching colours on a car is a delicate and precise job.

There can be as many as 13 slight variations on each shade of each colour so while a vehicle is in the early stages of preparation we will be checking colour codes on the car against a large number of colour swatches to be sure that we can source as exact a match as possible.

If there is no colour code or the car has been re-sprayed we may have to resort to a spectrometer to read the pigment and get an accurate colour match.

While this is happening, the car will be going through a number of preparation processes ready for the first layer of primer.

Dents, rust and corrosion will have been removed to create as even a surface as possible. Removable parts will have been removed and all areas, such as chrome and windows masked to protect them.

The masking has to be replaced between each subsequent layer of primer or pigment that is applied.

How many layers before it is done?

The first layer is called etch primer which eats into the metal to provide a key so that it bonds with the surface beneath. It is also anti-corrosive and repels water, both important because primers are porous. This is then rubbed down to remove any imperfections.

After re-masking the next layer of primer is applied.  This is called a high-build primer and it can typically take three coats to get it as smooth and even as possible.  Usually three coats of this kind of primer will be applied, baked in an oven then dried at 60 degrees C for 30 minutes.

The surface is then sanded to ensure a smooth finish.  As any painter and decorator will confirm, getting the surfaces to be painted or wallpapered as smooth as possible is the key to a professional finish and this also applies to car paintwork.

But there is still some way to go before we have a finished paint job, more so if the vehicle has a metallic finish, which is light-reflective.

In this case, the first layer is a ground coat, such as silver.  It is actually made up of granules or flakes that dry to a matt finish.

The number of layers of pigment that are then added can vary but with a metallic finish it will take several.  The pigment, which is water-based, clings to the flakes of ground coat and the result can be completely different shades on different surfaces because of the reflection at different angles.

So, if a door, for example, has changes of angle, they not only have to be tested against each other but also against adjoining doors and panels to be sure the colour look identical.

In between each additional layer the paint has to be dried with warm air at just the right temperature and air flow to ensure all the moisture has completely evaporated.  Too hot, and the surface will dry, trapping moisture underneath. 

Any woman who has ever used quick drying nail varnish will know what happens when the surface dries.  It seems to be fine but until the underneath has also hardened it is vulnerable to damage.

Once we are sure that each layer is completely dry and that the colour matches from every angle the final stage is to apply two coats of lacquer and the job is complete.




The Citroen Dolly formerly known as Brian

Over the years, we have welcomed this lovely Citroen Dolly into the workshop whenever she’s needed some tlc.

On a previous occasion, the Dolly was brought into our workshop after her owner’s cat got into the garage one night climbed onto the soft top and fell through it into the car. That was when owner Wendy Bryant realised the roof needed replacing!

The car was bought for her by her mother after she passed her driving test in her 40s the 1990s. After the test the examiner showed her his marking sheet to prove to her that she had not made a single mistake

“It was my first car,” she said. “I’ve always liked that little car and it’s the only one I’ve ever had. I’ve had it nearly 30 years.”

We have recently restored the bodywork to its former glory after Mrs Bryant decided it was time for it to be done up again.

She had never met the car’s previous owner until one day she was in a supermarket in Sudbury and heard someone behind her say “Oh look, Brian”.  When she turned round the woman who had spoken said she was delighted to see the car again. 

She told Mrs Bryant that she had christened the car Brian and had travelled all over the place, including to France, in it. She said she had always loved the car but her husband had persuaded her to sell it because they needed a larger car once they had children.

The car’s former name was a surprise, said Mrs Bryant, as she had always seen the car as a female, and she called it Dolly.

She said she was delighted with the results of the Dolly’s recent restoration and we were delighted with the flowers and chocolates we received from her as a thank you.

She is now considering whether to join in one of the annual Classic car runs, something she has never done before.          


How a Ford Popular 103E was brought back to life

Gary Milner, of Colchester, started looking for a Ford Popular back in 2013, hoping for one that was running and drivable that he could improve over time.

Eventually, he saw an ad for a partially restored Popular that sent him on a round trip of 690 miles to St Austell in Cornwall to buy what he described as “a pile of bits with the shell done” and bring it back on a friend’s trailer to East Anglia.

He wasn’t interested in the more up-market and increasingly expensive classics such as E-type Jaguars and the like: “I wasn’t interested in cars to race around in, I wanted something that would make people smile,” he said.

Having been interested in cars all his life and already restored several cars in the past Gary, the co-owner of a Sudbury-based electronics solutions company, was well able to take care of the mechanics on the Popular himself, something he had thought would be a six-month project.

He bought a manual and joined the Ford Sidevalve club, whose members were to prove an invaluable source of support and help.

Working on it in the evenings and weekends eventually took three years, working methodically through a plan, starting with the engine and gearbox, then the suspension, running gear and steering and brakes, to get it to the standard he wanted.

One of the most difficult projects was to obtain a V5C for the car. He did have the original log book and an old MOT certificate and tax disk from 1976 but he wanted to keep the original registration number. The Sidevalve club and members were particularly helpful throughout the lengthy process of gathering all the documents and certificate he would need to submit through the DVLA’s V765 scheme.

It was to take several months, the submission of yet more documents and the correction of registration mistakes made by DVLA, but Gary persevered and eventually achieved his desired objective. The original registration number was officially approved.

When it came to restoring the bodywork, Gary admitted he was no expert and would not be able to do the car justice.  So he brought the car to us at Motts for the finishing touch. AS he said: “it’s always better to let the professionals and experts do the bits you can’t do”.

The result is what is now one of the best models in existence and he has been invited to show it at the annual Classic Car Show at the NEC this November.

Meantime, Gary is contemplating taking the car to a few classic car events during the summer, although as these cars need an oil change every 1000 miles it is not about to become the family runabout!  But, he says, having put so much work and love into it he is unlikely to ever sell it.


Thinking of buying a new car? Beware the new Road Tax rules

If you are thinking of buying a new car you may want to do so before April, when all new cars registered on or after 1 April 2017 will be subject to new road rates.

For the first year, the changes to Vehicle Excise Duty (Road Tax, or Vehicle Excise Duty) will only apply to new cars, but the new system won’t be fully in place until 2018.

After that, it is possible there will be further changes perhaps not only covering the newly-registered cars.

How is Road Tax changing?

Different rates will apply to cars with a purchase price below £40,000 and for those above £40,000.

According to the HMRC website “First Year Rates (FYRs) for Road Tax (VED) will vary according to the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of the vehicle. A flat Standard Rate (SR) of £140 will apply in all subsequent years. except for zero-emission cars for which the SR will be £0.

“For cars above the £40,000 cut-off there will be a supplement of £310 on the SR for the first five years, after which Road Tax will revert to the SR of £140.” This “Premium” fee will apply to all new cars above the £40,000 mark regardless of their level of CO2 emissions, so will include electric and hybrid cars.

The changes also mean that fewer cars will be exempt from Road Tax. The new VED system will only be free for vehicles with no tailpipe emissions - that means electric and hydrogen cars only, so in future, hybrid vehicles will not be exempt from Road Tax.

There’s a link to the full list of scaled charges here. There will still be 13 bands based on CO2 emission levels, and the higher the CO2 emissions the car is calculated to produce, the higher the Road Tax charge will be.

For those whose cars are via lease hire the leasing agreements usually include the funders renewal of road tax as part of the service.  It is likely that the extra Road Tax costs will be passed on to the lessee as part of their monthly payments.



Are you intending to buy a second-hand car?

If so, you will need to know something about its history as well about its current state of repair and road-worthiness.

According to the AA one in three vehicles has a hidden past which can include that it is subject to outstanding finance (an estimated one in four vehicles), or that the car is stolen or that it is an insurance write-off.

Finding out about any of these after the transaction is completed can leave the buyer seriously out of pocket so history is one of the first things it is wise to check.  The AA offers a vehicle history checking service for a fee.  It can be carried out online at http://www.theaa.com/car-data-checks/index.html

An alternative source of history and document checking is available on the Honest John website at history check from MyCarCheck.com

What about the car’s condition, mechanics and road safety?

There are a number of aspects to check to ensure the vehicle is safe and road worthy and that the engine has no major defects. It is better to carry out checks with the car on level ground and in daylight.

It is worth having a list of the essentials if you are going to do it yourself and the list should include tyres, dents and gaps in the bodywork, oil, coolant and brake fluid levels and look for leaks in the engine bay and below the car.

Uneven wear and shallow treads on the tyres can be signs of wheels that need attention and balancing or possibly may indicate something more serious.

Make sure all the electrics work, including lights, windows, wipers and any other electrically-driven features.

If you are not confident about your knowledge of mechanics, no reputable seller should object if you take along a mechanically-minded friend or arrange for a professional to carry out a proper inspection of the engine’s working parts.

Bodywork checks can also reveal a lot about the car that may not at first be obvious. They can reveal evidence of accident damage and previous repairs. Inspection of the paintwork may identify signs of corrosion and an inspection should also check the underneath to ensure body work is properly sealed.

Motts has an accredited vehicle assessor on our team and we can carry out pre-purchase vehicle body appraisals at our premises. The process takes about an hour. We also offer the service for owners who are intending to sell a vehicle.

Finally, you can learn a lot by test driving the vehicle, such as whether its brakes and tracking are even and its road holding.  Remember to check that your insurance will cover you for a test drive if you are buying privately as it is unlikely the owner’s insurance will cover you.


Motts Vehicle Restoration launches the Motts Apprenticeship Program

For several years Lawrence Motts, of Motts Body Repair and Motts Classic Vehicle Restoration, has had had it in mind to reinstate the Values of an Original Apprenticeship program.

Now he has kick-started the motoring year by launching the Motts apprenticeship program for Vehicle Body Repair, and more Importantly Classic Vehicle Restoration.

He was finally given the incentive when a young chap, Sam Green, approached Motts because he couldn’t complete the full range of experience he needed for his NVQ at the company he was with.

Sam, who “absolutely loves cars”, had also said he wanted specifically to learn the traditional techniques involved in repairing the bodywork on old, classic cars. After a week with Motts on work experience where Carl put him through his paces Sam has now joined Motts as the first apprentice on the new Motts scheme.

Lawrence commented: "The 80s saw the end of the (apprenticeship) as some will remember it. This was replaced with the modern apprenticeship program, YTS Schemes, and more recently NVQs.

“Sadly, the old skills required were lost in this transition and method repairs and modern vehicle techniques have led to a different kind of Vehicle Body technicians. Although repairing vehicles to recognised industry standards is essential, the standardisation the industry implemented, and the construction of modern vehicles, lends itself to a panel replacement, throwaway society, leaving the true skills of the Vehicle Body Repair technician in the past.

“Although modern training at college will provide tomorrow's vehicle repairers with a recognised industry qualification, 2 or 3 years’ day release will not teach them how to repair such vehicles as an e- Type Jaguar, or a Rolls Royce Phantom.

“These skills come from skilled people, skills passed on through the generations.  I feel it's my duty, just as when I'm asked to restore a customer’s pride and joy, I become the custodian of a piece of motoring history, I feel the same responsibility as an employer, as the custodian of tomorrow's skilled vehicle Body Restoration specialists”.

Lawrence has carefully selected his team of skilled technicians who all still have the traditional skills to pass on to the next generation. So, young Sam will be in good hands.


Welcome to 2017.

We’re 20 years old this year and in that time, we’ve grown to become one of the biggest independent body repair specialists in our area with 14 people now working on the site!

What started out as a “hobby” for two young lads who loved tinkering with cars at weekends gradually developed into fixing cars for friends and family, until at age 24, having done a lot of training including business courses, Lawrence decided to take the plunge and set up his own business.

There were times, especially in the early days, when things were not easy – for example, on one memorable occasion he realised that his cat was getting better food than he was!  Life was far from glamorous and in the early days often involved working seven days a week well into the late evening.

But persistence and hard work pays off and the business is now well-established with many loyal customers and a huge range of expertise in repairing and restoring bodywork on all kinds of vehicles.

So, thank you all for your support and please keep an eye on our facebook page. We will be announcing some monthly special offers for you throughout the year.

We may be half-way through January but it’s not too late to wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.

We also have some exciting plans in the pipeline.

Some of you will have noticed that we’ve been doing some work on the forecourt in the last few months.

The yard has been tidied up and we have already dug out the bank opposite the current workshop building. Three containers have been installed there to be used partly as storage but also to serve as a retaining wall.

We will be making some of the storage space available for customers at reasonable rates so that they can leave their cars on site rather than having to take them away if they are having restoration work done in stages rather than all in one go.

We also have planning permission to put up a second building opposite the current workshop.

If all goes according to plan we’ll have more capacity to match the increasing numbers of classic cars customers are bringing in and be able to do all the restoration work in one building.  The other workshop will be used for repairs, metal work and as a body shop.

Watch this space, as they say, and in the meantime a big thank you to everyone who has supported Motts Body Repair throughout our journey.




We would like to thank all our friends and customers for their support and custom throughout 2016

All of us at Motts Body Repair wish you

A very happy Christmas

And a prosperous New Year

Watch this space for news of our plans for 2017 – our 20th anniversary in business!

Here's a few members of staff doing a christmas dance for you http://www.elfyourself.com/?mId=69673936



It all started with Airfix paints and Matchbox cars - and now he’s the boss!

Last week it was dad, this week in the final “episode” of our Meet the Team series it’s the son, Lawrence Motts, founder of Motts Body Repair.

It is no exaggeration to say that bodywork is Lawrence’s passion – and it started when he was very young.

As a child, Lawrence collected Matchbox cars, mostly bought for him by his grandparents. But he was never happy to leave them in their original state. Instead, he would “borrow” his dad, Ted’s, Airfix paints and give them a new paint job.

At the same time, as a 7-8 year-old, he would help his father when he was working on cars, passing him the correct tools as they were needed.

From the age of 13 Lawrence had a Saturday job in a garage working with one of his father’s friends.  The garage had both mechanical and body workshops and it was the body work that caught his imagination: “I went in one Saturday and there was an old wreck.  By the next Saturday it was all re-sprayed and looked lovely.”

It was the visible transformation that appealed to him: “Mechanical stuff comes in and goes out looking exactly the same.”

Lawrence got his first job at Auto Coachbuilders in Colchester and at the same time in his spare time at home he rebuilt a Morris Minor, followed by a re-spray of a friend’s Triumph Spitfire. Over time, he acquired a lot of his own equipment and eventually he and a friend were working regularly on cars on the friend’s father’s farm.

By this time, he had been through college, at Colchester Institute, finishing as one of the very few students to get the National Craftsmen’s certificate, which is only awarded to students who complete three or four years of both written exams and practical tests in London to gain all the City and Guilds Certificates.

He followed this with an HNC in vehicle body repair, which enabled him to join both the Institute of the Motor Industry (MIMI) and the Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE). Membership of these institutes also meant he had to study all the business law related to the motor trade, which he did in Ipswich.

By the age of 21 he was qualified to managerial level but was finding that he was considered too young for senior positions.  He was now getting considerable private work and at the age of 24, Lawrence decided it was time to leave his full-time job to set up his own business. His move fulfilled a dream his father had never been able to accomplish.

As the company grew it was clear more space would be needed and Motts moved to its present site at Horkesley Hill, Nayland, in 2003, at first renting the yard, which Lawrence eventually bought in 2012.

Now aged 44, he has a partner, Lisa, who works part time for Motts taking care of the books and paperwork, and between them the couple have three children.

The company is just starting its 20th year and has grown to 12 full time staff.  We’ll have more on the plans Lawrence has for developing Motts further and some special 20th anniversary offers in the coming weeks.



In the final two of our Meet the Team series we will have another father and son

First, the father – Ted Motts

Ted Motts, 70, has been working at Motts Body Repair three days a week for the last five years taking care of “odd jobs” and deliveries and keeping the grounds tidy.

Ted, a father of two – Lawrence and Alex – and grandfather of three was widowed when he was just 42, losing his wife Fay to cancer when their two sons were just 15 and six years old. The family has raised approaching £750,000 for cancer charities.

He describes himself as a “very proud dad”.

Ted trained as an agricultural engineer, doing an apprenticeship with Colchester Tractors and learning on the job. He left the company aged 21 and then worked in fleet maintenance for 45 years, firstly with Wonderloaf for 11 years and then for Robertson Van Hire as a mechanic and foreman for 38 years.

In his younger days he drove a Ford Cortina and after Fay’s death he kept her Mini, which is now being restored at Motts (see the picture with this article).

Ted and his new partner are keen caravaners, travelling all over the UK at weekends in their motorhome.



Meet the team at Motts

The latest in our series introducing our customers to the people who work at Motts.

From Barista to Body shop admin – Lawrence Heath

Lawrence Heath, 22, started his career in a café and learned everything there is to know about being a Barista, then three years ago he switched to working here at Motts.

Readers who have been following our Meet the Team series may remember that we started with John Heath, who had just completed restoring a Triumph GT6, and yes, Lawrence is John’s son.

Lawrence had been into Motts with his father and had been looking for full-time work, which was not available in his previous job, and moving to Motts was logical given his passion for cars, which plainly runs in the family!

To start with, Lawrence did everything from sweeping up and washing the cars to delivering finished vehicles to their owners.

Over the time Lawrence has been with Motts he has gradually added a more customer-facing role, greeting customers at reception and dealing with their needs and paperwork, to his various tasks.

He enjoys the variety: “Despite being male I feel I multi-task fairly well due to the ever-changing roles I have to fulfil,” he says.

He is greatly interested in the vast array of vehicles that come into Motts and says since he has been working here he has grown to appreciate just how hard everyone, including his dad, works.

Lawrence’s favourite cars are too numerous to list but he is currently driving a Mazda 6 MPS, one of his more realistic boyhood “dream” cars.


Worth considering when preparing the car for winter

As the autumn takes hold thoughts will soon be turning to getting our cars ready for the winter.

On the checklist will be ensuring the blades on the windscreen wipers are in good repair and properly balanced to make contact over the whole surface of the screen.

Another must is checking the depth of treads on tyres and ensuring the pressure is correct for the temperature, something that will need to be done regularly throughout the season.

The AA publishes a list of important checks that includes these and also ensuring there is the correct type and mix of antifreeze, making sure the battery is checked, especially if it is five years old or more and using a good quality 50% mix of screen wash to reduce the chance of freezing when it is particularly icy.

The AA also has a good tip to prevent doors from freezing – put a thin coat of polis or Vaseline on the rubber seals.

One thing that is often forgotten, however, is the damage that the salt in the gritting mixture can do to the car’s bodywork.

Anywhere there is a dent or scratch on the paint work makes the surface vulnerable to the corrosive effects of salt penetrating through to the metal and potentially setting up the conditions for rusting of the bodywork.

It is worth checking the bodywork and touching up any areas of the surface that might be vulnerable.

For a full check of the under-sealing Motts would be happy to take a look for you.



A bit of TV fun for Classic car lovers – but remember it’s not reality

Television classic car make-over shows may be entertaining viewing but it is a good idea to remember that what makes a good TV programme may not be how the real world works.

That may seem like a statement of the obvious but from time to time at Motts Body Repair we have had customers bringing in a classic car for restoration with a completely unrealistic idea of the hours of work and the consequent labour costs they may be facing.

Often the customer will quote one of these television shows when querying our estimates.

Restoration of a classic car is generally a labour of love and anyone who has done it for themselves will not have been doing it to make money nor expecting quick results but because they particularly love the make and model of car they have chosen to restore.

Another possible issue is whether any replacement parts being used are originals or whether they are modern replicas.

Either way, while it may be helpful to be told the prices of the parts and paint that were needed, the process of telescoping each complete restoration into an episode tends to distort both the time taken at each stage or the detailed and painstaking preparation work that may have had to be done.

Often the reported sale price of each car bears little relation to the actual cost of the work in the real world.

This is a topic of debate on many online forums including Honest John among others: “How come when they tot up the costs, they never include the cost of labour? Most of the time, it would prove that their efforts were not cost effective!”

Here’s a typical comment from another forum: “I reckon he spent about 100 hours - in a fully equipped 'shop. That's got to by £3000 + of anybody's money. Then they sold the car and were pleased at the couple of hundred quid they "made" on it.”

The demands of the TV programme format mean that the featured car has to be shown going from wreck to shiny beauty in the space of an hour or so and this can give a very distorted impression.

These TV shows may be entertaining if you are a classic car enthusiast, but what they are not is reality TV!


 How to control your budget when restoring a classic car

When you take on restoring the bodywork of a classic car, there is so much hidden under the surface that you can’t know about.

The main stages involved in any classic bodywork restoration are diagnosis, which will mean stripping back and removing trims, mechanical and electrical, and other parts.

The second phase will be listing any parts that need replacing. Stripping off all the trims and components can reveal that they are damaged and may need replacing.  Here the question is whether to repair, search for second-hand replacements of the right vintage, or get modern reproduction parts.

To some extent choice may be limited by availability or by how much damage there is, but it is also important to remember that modern replacements may not be as strong as the originals

Finally, an assessment can be made of the condition of the bare bones of the chassis once it has been stripped. With all the removable parts off, you will be able to see the extent of any damage, such as rust and corrosion, to the body.  Again, the extent of the damage will indicate whether welding of new metal, or filling is going to be the best solution.

Motts’ solution to helping customers to budget for this kind of project is to break the work down into compartments.

We don’t believe it is possible to give a price at the start of a job without having any idea what damage is hidden below the surface.

We also believe in giving our customers as much information as possible about the stages that may be involved and discussing the options with them.

If a customer’s budget is tight, we would advise perhaps concentrating on one part of the car so that once the worst is revealed we will have more idea of what might be the car’s condition elsewhere.

They can then pace the work to suit their budget – with no nasty surprises at the end.

If you do decide to go to a specialist in that particular model for an estimate it is advisable to always ask for a list of the work they expect will have to be done at every stage.


Be cautious when consulting classic car specialists

Understandably, perhaps, people will go to a specialist when they are wanting to restore the bodywork on a classic car in the belief that they will have greater expertise.

However, many people have learned to their considerable cost that there is a difference between being given an estimate and a quote for a job.

We have had several customers return to us after having work done on their classic cars by specialists on the basis of what seemed like reasonable estimate, only to find that because there proved to be more involved than originally thought, they were facing substantially higher bills than they expected.

In one example, a customer had a classic Porsche with obvious signs of corrosion on its B pillar. The problem was that it was impossible to tell what damage might be uncovered after removing the pillar, so it was very difficult to give a definite price.

The customer then consulted a specialist, who explained in more technical detail and the metalwork repair estimate seemed reasonable at just under £1000. The work was done but the bill they had to pay was almost double that.

In a second case, a customer had set a maximum budget of £10,000 for restoring their classic Jaguar. Although it appeared to be a reasonable budget at first sight, we advised that it might be wise to do one side of the car properly to get a better idea of what might be the underlying state of the rest.

Again the customer went to a specialist, who assured them that the whole job could be done within their budget. Again the bill climbed to double, and that was for work on only part of the car.

The lesson is to be cautious when considering restoring a classic car and make sure to ask lots of questions not only about the process but also about what problems may be hidden behind trims and panels and other parts.

In our next blog we will describe how we approach helping customers to have a realistic idea of the work their project might involve, how we price for the work we do and how we discuss the options with them at each stage of the process.






Meet the team at Motts

We’re thought our customers might like to meet the people who actually work on their cars so over the weeks we plan to tell you a little about them.

John Heath – completely nuts about cars

John, 50, is Motts’ longest-serving employee and has been with the company for six and a half years.  He’s a specialist in putting the finishing touch to the paintwork on cars we work on.

His favourite part of the job is “seeing a satisfied customer leaving with their pride and joy back to new condition”.

Married with two sons, one of whom, Lawrence, also works at Motts on reception, John has been passionate about cars since he was at school.

He did a two-year motor studies course at school and bought a Triumph kit car to work on when he was just 15 years old.  He was also passionate about motorbikes and in his time owned a Harley, then a Ducatti.

Strangely, his first job after leaving school was as a printer, until the company went into liquidation in the 1980s, but he and cars were reunited in his next job as an apprentice in the Ford import centre at Parkeston Quay.

It’s no exaggeration to say cars are John’s life!  For the last six years he has been completely restoring a Triumph GT6.  He found it on e-bay and says:  “it was a basket case. I think it would have gone for scrap.”  You can see what he meant from the pictures here and from his YouTube video: https://youtu.be/DuLcYd1zZxw

The owner had started to restore it but had only got as far as putting a floor and a sill in. John travelled to Wales to save the car from a fate worse than death and brought it back home to work on.

“I wanted to prove myself after 30 years in the motor trade,” he says. Six years or so later the job is done and the car has just been exhibited at its first classic car show at Leatherhead.

So what is he going to do now?

Well, first, he has to tackle all the DIY at home that has taken second place to restoring the GT6: “I’ve been decorating since before Christmas,” he says.

But once that’s done he’s toying with the idea of doing up a Mini next in his spare time when he’s not doing the day job at Motts


Time to check the aircon?

A couple of days of warm weather is a reminder that summer may at last be on its way.

We’ve had a number of owners bring their cars in to have the air conditioning checked after finding out that it perhaps wasn’t performing as well as they wished.

Why does this happen? The aircon system in a car is made up of a lot of pipes, connected by rubber seals and the vibrations of the motor can lead to leakage of the refrigerant gas that is used in the system.  Over time this can lead to a loss of efficiency.

Car manufacturers estimate that 30% to 40% of the gas leaks each year from aircon systems.  Some will recommend an annual service of the air conditioning, but in our experience this may be over-cautious and, depending on performance, every two years is sufficient.

Also if the air conditioning is used regularly the oil is circulated and this will help to keep the rubber seals pliable and supple, which can prevent some gas leakage.

If you let the system run low on refrigerant the compressor has to work twice as hard and will therefore wear out in half the time.

It’s a job that needs doing by a professional.  At Motts we can check your car’s aircon pressure, check for leaks and do a gas top up if needed.

We can also do a check on the air conditioning system at a reduced when your car is with us for other repairs.

Car washing tips to preserve paintwork

Is it really necessary to wash the car every week?

The answer is that it depends on the conditions in the area where you live.

If, for example, you live near a coast then there is likely to be more salt in the air and salt can damage the surface finish of a car.  Similarly if the car is generally parked outside in an area where there are a lot of trees, the chances are that it will be vulnerable to bird droppings and this, too, is not good for paintwork.  If any of these conditions applies then the car needs to be washed weekly.

The reason is that leaving salt, droppings or squashed insects on the paintwork can eat into the car’s paintwork.

If, on the other hand none of these applies, then you can safely reduce car washing to a twice-monthly task.

What other advice on car washing is there?

It helps to rinse the surface before starting the actual wash to get rid of loose particles of dirt that could scratch the surface during washing.

It is generally not a good idea to wash a car when the body is hot, either because it has been parked for a long time in direct sunlight or because the engine is still hot after a drive. Heat will mean that the soap and water will dry more quickly leaving smears and deposits you will then have to remove.

Another tip is to avoid moving the sponge in circles.  This can create scratches.  For similar reasons the sponge must always be as clean and free from grit as possible.

Grease, rubber, and road-tar deposits picked up from the road often accumulate around the wheel wells and along the lower edge of the body. Use a separate sponge to clean the wheels and tires, which may be coated with sand, brake dust, and other debris.

Be careful which cleaning products are used. Don't use household cleaning agents like hand soap, dishwashing detergent, or glass cleaner on the paint. These aren't formulated for use on a car's paint and may strip off the protective wax.

Work the car-wash solution into a lather with plenty of suds that provide lots of lubrication on the paint surface. And rinse the sponge often.

It is also best to be careful with settings when using a high pressure jet to rinse of the car wash solution.  A too powerful jet can dislodge balancing weights from wheel trims and strip paint from sharp edges such as wheel arches.

And finally, a chamois leather or soft towel is most effective for drying the car at the end of the process.

What to check when buying a second-hand car

Buying a second-hand car can be a risk unless you can find out about the car’s history.

According to the AA, one in three second-hand cars has a hidden history and one in four may have an outstanding finance debt.

Then there is the possibility that the car you are considering purchasing has been stolen or that it has been an insurance write-off.

The insurance industry has four categories of write-offs, labelled A to D.  A is for cars so badly damaged that they must be scrapped, B indicates extensive past damage such as a crushed body, C means the car can be repaired but it would not be cost-effective to do so if the resale value is lower than the repair costs and D is repairable but at significant cost.

In addition to these possible issues with a car’s history there may have been significant faults identified during MOT checks.

How can you find out about a car’s history?

It is possible to check online on the DVLA website to find out about a car’s ownership and MOT history.  You will need the car’s registration number and either its V5C registration reference number or the test number from the MOT certificate.

If the seller cannot or will not provide these it would be sensible to be wary.

The Government is also launching an MOT checking service. The website is currently still at the trial stage but this might be worth trying as there is a request for feedback on the website.  https://www.check-mot.service.gov.uk/

If you want a more comprehensive and thorough check both the AA and the RAC will do a vehicle check. These, too, can be done online.

The AA charges £19.99 for a car data single vehicle check.

You can also book an inspection as long as you have the seller’s permission and they are willing to provide some basic details on the vehicle. There is more information here:  http://www.theaa.com/car-data-checks/

The RAC also offers a car history check for £14.99. This, according to the website, http://www.rac.co.uk/buying-a-car-new/rac-car-data-check/how-to-check-car-history includes:

A complete history check of the car including 10 alerts covering outstanding finance, if it's been stolen, written off or scrapped and any mileage discrepancies