Breathing life back into old cars a real joy

2011-05-13 00:00

SOME couples have his and hers bathrobes or matching watches, but Elisabeth and William Quigley have gone a step further. “We have his and hers [vintage] Daimlers,” says William.

The couple restore vintage cars together, starting with their first project of a 1958 Daimler 104, which was restored before they got married in 2002. “We said: ‘We either finish the car, or we don’t get married,” laughed Elisabeth.

Her interest in restoring vintage cars only began after she met William. He was a car enthusiast, and says: “She dragged me into orchestras and I dragged her into cars.” The couple now shares the interest, with both of them working together on restoration projects. “It’s a nice thing to do together,” agree the Howick couple.

It started out as a case of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ says 35-year-old Elisabeth, but she found she enjoyed bringing the old cars back to life. “It grows on you,” she says. And according to Elisabeth, it’s easy to do. “You just need to be a little bit technically minded,” she explained, “but there are some things I’m not strong enough to do.” Her husband disagrees with that. “We took out the engine and gearbox together... She’s not just sitting there choosing colours.”

Elisabeth’s latest project is a 1952 Austin AS3 A30 named “Dumpling”. Dumpling comes complete with a 1950s picnic set. But Elisabeth maintains the cream and red melamine set, complete with matching salt and pepper pots, came before the car. The Austin is still in the process of being restored, and is a rarity in SA.

“We’ve never seen another one,” says William.

They also enjoy touring in the restored cars, and are members of the Jaguar and Daimler club in Pietermaritzburg. “It’s part of the fun, to be seen in it,” says Elisabeth.

Williams says his Daimler turned 50 a few years ago, and they threw a birthday party where all the members of the club came in their Daimlers and Jaguars.

But the real joy still lies in breathing life back into a dilapidated motor. “You get a kick out of it when something goes right, when it looks good and you can say ‘we did that’” says Elisabeth.

To view classic cars in the process of restoration, visit Cars in the Park on Sunday. The event, held at Alexander Park, is themed ‘Restoration – Work in Progress’ and will have several cars in various stages of repair.

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