Wednesday, 28 March 2018

How time flies

GOOD LORD!! Has it really been another 4 years since the last blog?? Times have changed and we have evolved. Lets talk again soon.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

How time flies

GOOD LORD!! Has it really been 3 years since the last blog?? Times have changed and we have evolved. Lets talk again soon.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

New years freeze and rest of January

1952 ragtop beetle has been stripped and all the paint removed by soda blasting.

Split screen barn door camper has now had the top coats of paint applied.

Covers are off of the E Type jag and we've been busy tidying and fettling.

1972 bay window VW camper in for major refurbishment and respray - welding work progressing.

White 1970 bay window - all mechanical work complete and now a body refurb and respray required.

Jaguar XK8 in for minor repairs.

Morris Minor convertible - Remove the masonry paint accidentally oversprayed onto it.

1970 Beetle in for seized gearbox.

Daimler Sovereign 4.2 - head gasket replacement.

November November

1963 Daimler 2.5 V8 now fully refurbished and fitted up. Awaiting mechanical fine tuning and final testing.

1973 green bay window VW camper welding work being progressed.

E type Jaguar V12 in for light upgrades and minor refurbishment.

1976 Daimler Sovereign in top coat of paint and resting prior to fitting up.

1963 Split screen VW camper in for braking and mechanical work and completion of internal fittings.

1952 Split rear oval window Beetle in for extensive restoration and bare metal respray.


Total cars in the workshop today.

1957 MG Magnette ZB completed and awaiting collection by new owner.

1966 Mercedes Benz 250S now fully refurbished.

1966 Daimler V8 250 in top coat of paint and 'resting', prior to fitting up.

1990 Daimler Sovereign XJ6 body refurbishment nearly completed and soon to be prepared for repainting.

1959 Bedford CA camper in for rectification of MOT failure items.

1972 Bay window camper van for MOT repairs, light welding, engine replacement and front axle beam replacement.

1976 Brazillian split screen camper for refurbishment and respray.

1978 Karmann cabriolet Beetle for mechanical repairs and correction of numerous faults.

1992 Land Rover Defender 90 for replacement of complete rear cross member.

2009 BMW 520D in for repairs to scrapes on side skirt and rear bumper.

1973 Bay window camper van in for full body restoration and complete respray.

Camper van assortment

A mix of VW camper vans in for an assortment of works from engine rebuilds to restoration.

Phot'os of the more interesting projects to be added to our photobucket site soon.

Porsche 993 911

Porsche 911 (993 model) in for refurbishment of front panels. Removal of minor stonechips and upgrade to higher standard of paint finish. Replacment of trim beading.

Slideshow of work available at:

Daimler V8 250

966 Daimler V8 250 in for complete Soda Blast strip of entire car exterior to bare metal. extensive rerstoration over entire body. Refurbishment of leather upholstery and door panels. light mechanical work. full respray to collection standard.

History of work also available in photo format at:

Mercedes Benz 250s

1966 Mercedes 250s in for refurbishment of lower panels and weld repairs to all corroded areas on lower panels. Bare metal respray to lower panels below waistline. Light refurbishment to interior woodwork and mechanical repairs.

Photo history of work available at:

VW bay window camper van

1972 VW camper (bay window) in for extensive restoration of the whole van to include reconstruction of corroded rear chassis sections, replacement of all exterior lower panels, entire front clip and both rear quarter panels to roof height. Further welded repairs to additional corroded areas. Full respray and various suspension work etc.

Photo history of works also available at:

Humber Super Snipe

1960 Humber Super Snipe series 3 estate in for mechanical overhaul following dry storage for the past 15 years, welding repairs to lower panel corrosion and repaint from waistline to lower edges. Waxoyl protection and bodyguard protection of affected areas.

Photo history of work also available at:

Porsche 356c

1963 Porsche 356c in for complete nut and bolt strip down, extensive structural, mechanical and interior restoration and bare metal respray. Completed to museum collection standard.

Porsche 356a

1958 Porsche 356a in for light restoration and weld repairs to exterior panels and respray to show standard.

Photo history of works also available at:

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Volksworld 2010

March 27th - 28th.

Sandown Park Racecourse.

The first Major Air cooled VW show of the year.

Volksworld 2010.

An hour before the doors open for this huge season opening event in the air cooled calender, the finishing touches have been put on the Sterling Automotive stand and it's time to take a stroll around to see what's on display. The expected array of jaw dropping beauty in the halls. Frantic activity from the event organisors, catching up on last minute detailing. A veritable chain gang, streaming box after box of rarity items up to the the swap meet area. A quick glance outside the front doors and it seems that the show's actually already in full flow.

Why wait for the doors to officially open to start looking around. You've got the camping area, the visitors car park, the (unofficial) car boot sale and most importantly, the cars for sale zone all to be perused.

Oh yes, Veedub enthusiasts don't waste precious time standing in line. they've got work to do!

The experienced show visitors at Volksworld know to arrive early. In fact the night before makes sense. Those that decide to lay in, take a relaxed breakfast, watch a few cartoons on telly and and hit the road mid morning however, (eg. my wife and 6 year old Son) were able to enjoy a two and a half hour queue to get into Esher.

It was a rather quiet day on Saturday morning. Not the Volksworld show, that was packed! No, I mean the Sterling Automotive stand. Why did so few people want to come onto the stand? Why was nobody asking questions, telling me about their projects and enquiring about our work loadings? Time to take a walk and look from a distance. Suddenly the issue became clear to see.

 Keen to get the crucial words 'Sterling Automotive' as prominent as possible, I'd posted a pair of feather flags at the front of the stand and they had been acting as sentries, gently turning the visitors at the slightest of angles away and around the frontage, diverting the public gaze toward the show cars opposite.

Flags moved to more suitable 'subliminal message' locations further down the hall and the tide is turned on the Sterling stand. Suddenly, the type 2 splitty at the back of the stand is being noticed and admirers are having to push past the crush surrounding the 1952 floor pan and freshly painted body shell.

Moral of the story....   Less is more.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Sterling Automotive workshop portfolio Oct 2009

Another Sterling Automotive video up on youtube. This one is a fast moving clip showing some of the classic cars that have been through the Sterling workshops. It is set to rock music so either turn the music up or down depending on your taste.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Sterling Automotive Camper resto on Youtube

Our restoration of a 1972 bay window camper van on Youtube and set a Godwits track.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Nice Youtube clip

This should please the most discerning eye.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Keep off the bare metal!

When restoring classic vehicle bodywork, it is important to avoid any contact between bare metal and new paint.

Today, with modern materials and processes, car manufacturers can offer many years warranty against rust appearing By contrast, the sheet metal of older vehicles was less refined when new and will have been around the block many times, therefore it will suffer from any moisture. So when it comes to refinishing a classic car, sustainable corrosion protection plays an important role.

It is important to counter the risk of corrosion at the time of preparing the substrate and once surface tension of the steel is broken, the clock is ticking. So having meticulously prepared and cleaned exposed metal, professional restorers quickly move to applying a protective coat which remains until it’s time to prep the car for painting.

Next step is removing the protective coat, re-attending to the metal and applying a thin insulation layer between the bare metal and the primer coat. Without this, the next coat of paint acts like a dry sponge that absorbs moisture, passes it on to the metal and holds it there.

So a two-coat build-up consisting of an acid primer and a 2K filler primer is used.

Coat one - The acid primer has a corrosion-inhibiting effect it also provides excellent etch adhesion to the metallic substrate on the one hand and to the upper coats on the other hand.

Coat two - The 2K filler isolates any defects and pores and helps to even out the surface. It becomes the perfected base for the topcoat.

Modern coating technology alone cannot guarantee the long life of a prestige or classic car. It is important to carry out all steps of the refinishing process with utmost care. This also means that the application of acid primer must be repeated as soon any body part is sanded back through to bare metal – even if this happens only in tiny areas.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Goodwood revival 2009

With huge gratitude to friends that snagged us complimentary passes for the Sunday of the 2009 Goodwood Classic Revival, we were anticipating a great event. The excitment grew when we discovered that my sons official best friend in the whole wide world and his family were joining us for the day trip.

At £48.00 per entry pass and £5.00 for a thimble full of Pims (a Spritzer with vegetables in it), the Revival is not exactly the most economical family day out but you sure do get a lot for your large pile of money.

Obviously, visitors are fully entitled to expect some of the finest racing cars from the best era of motor racing but how many events impart the feeling that you would be welcome to stroll the pits and approach any car owner, technician or driver you wish and bother them with your petty questions.

Setting the scene for an authentic period feel is an obvious bolt on to any historic event but if not done well, or particularly if over engineered, it’s just not going to look or seem right.

I bet there are few classic car owners that would decline a chance to park their precious jewel amidst the many walkways and display areas around the historic circuit but just one of the many extras was the vast car park outside the event full of some fine classics that would constitute a marvellous car show itself on any other day.

Wheel to wheel racing, tractor rides, Hot rods, minis. Laurel and hardy, Buzz Aldren, Sir Stirling Moss, Mr Bean. Static aircraft, flying displays, podium dancers, singing nurses. Rank and file dressed as toffs, toffs dressed as toffs, mods, rockers, rockabilles, hippies. There’s just so much to see and do that one mere day will never be remotely enough. Yes, we got a glimpse of most things but we would have needed the full three days to fully savour them.

And then there was the appearance of the Vulcan bomber. When you have a gathering of something like ninety thousand engineering enthusiasts and this thing roars overhead, the crowds just have to grind to a halt so that everybody can gaze skyward.

The cameras are pointed momentarily away from the circuit and people find themselves compelled to applaud. Mind you, any machine that’s capable of drowning out the sound of twenty unsilenced classic racing cars, to the point where it shudders the ground beneath your feet is going to get some attention.

It’s a huge event, so of course there’s going to be plenty of tented shops, concessions and fairground rides. The thing that doesn’t strike you until you reflect on the day is just how well oiled the Revival machine is but the fact that you don’t notice the perfection, proves how well run the weekend really is.

I kind of wish we hadn’t been our usual reserved selves and perhaps made an effort to dress in period attire, but I suppose that gives something more to do next year. Oh yes, we’re definitely going, no matter what the cost.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

In the workshop

Sterling Automotive now have a separate workshop blog page. The blog has been established to enable customers and followers to see some of the more extensive projects being attended to and:

Link to the photographic build histories of cars that we have carried out significant restorations on.

Link to the progress photographs of projects that we are currently working on.

To view this seperate blog page. Either follow the "view my complete profile" link or Visit but don't forget to come back to our main blog page.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Vanfest 2009

Summers over, the nights are closing in, it’s getting colder and the show season’s coming to an end. There’s nothing wrong with saving the best until last though and this years Vanfest at the three County’s showground in Malvern, surely must be the best yet. Beautiful weather all weekend, a massive turnout and loads of fabulous VW campers on show.

Attendance by Sterling Automotive was a last minute decision as I only realised a week before that I could find the time to go. Following a quick phone call to the show organisers to book a pitch and another call to the owners of the Bay window that we’d part restored, to ask if we could borrow it (again), it was just a matter of designing a multi award winning exhibition stand.
Of course there’s the usual options to choose from. I could have half a dozen scantily clad models and a dance troupe. Maybe build a two story stand in the shape of a ufo. Chrome, mirrors and bright floodlighting? Perhaps a themed stand, laid out like a workshop with barriers, ropes and security guards, of course.

Six and a half days later and my brain is still a blank canvas. So the executive decision was taken to not bother with any of that high quality nonsense and just to drop the camper off, put up some flags and leave a pile of leaflets in a dispenser.

It turns out that this was exactly the right way to go and the crowds flocked around the van for the whole of both days.

The moral of this story.... It's nice to see showy shiny stuff but when all is said and done, what the enthusiasts really want is to be allowed to have a real close look in detail at a part completed project.

Nobody wants salesmen lurking behind them while they're poking around at the nooks and crannies, so I kept a low profile but I know that it was rare that there was less than a dozen people taking an interest in the build quality and, more importantly, taking Sterling Automotive leaflets home with them.

The only downside… I’ve gotta get a load more leaflets printed off!

Caroline and Benjamin relax in the van at the end of the show.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Sterling Automotive move into to new workshop

Sterling Automotive have just taken the keys to a new 3000 square foot workshop with associated offices.

The new unit is much larger than our current building and will allow us quite a lot of elbow room. As well as being more spacious the workshop area is bright with plenty of natural light and all the striplights that we could need. Being so big, it will enable us to maintain a squeaky clean and tidy working environment.

The best news is that the building is on the same trading estate (unit 1d), so we won't need to completely move away from Sterling Garage's main workshop building and offices at unit 9.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Classic cars at the racecourse

Every year, the “West Berks Classic Vehicle Club” organise a classic vehicle show at Newbury Racecourse (that’s horse racing) to raise funds for Leukaemia Research. This year was the 17th show and the best yet.

As the racecourse is so close to the Sterling Automotive workshops (you could throw an apple across the gap) we decided that we would use the show to announce our arrival back into the classic car scene.

Everything was set for a great day out and to make it perfect, we finally saw the first properly sunny day for a month. Hundreds of classic cars, motorbikes, trucks and military vehicles arrived for the 10.00am start and the visitors turned up in droves.

Having set everything up the day before, I just had the simple task of bringing the cars accross from the workshop one at a time and putting out a couple of leaflet stands. From then on, it was a case of just relaxing and being available to chat to anybody that had questions. I’d already decided that future name recognition was all we should be looking to achieve from the day and frankly, we already had so many signs, flags and banners out, that we weren’t going to benefit from selling ourselves any more than that anyway.

We had a great pitch, right in the entrance and the stunning cars that we lined up to impress the crowds were:

Aston Martin DB4

Porsche 356C

Jaguar C Type recreation

Lotus Elan

Triumph Mayflower

Mercedes 450SL

Mercedes 250S

VW Bay window camper

I wanted to ensure that we had something for everybody on the stand, from the exotic DB4 through to the two ‘work in progress’ vehicles.

The 250S Merc was there to demonstrate how we use soda blasting to remove paint from the cars that we restore. The process gently removes the paint without friction (or heat) to reveal any defects underneath. We showed it at the stage where we had removed the paint from waistline down to assess the remedial processes necessary and had started cutting out some of the sections of rot. Many visitors to the stand found it most fascinating to see a car that was in bare metal in parts but with old fibreglass, filler and previous repairs still showing and ready to be removed.

The camper van which was near completion for our works, was parked in the marquee with photo’s taped to the body showing what each panel looked like when it arrived with us. One of the many complimentary comments overheard was “I can’t believe that something so rotten can be made to look so pretty”. If we had achieved nothing else from the show, that would have been enough to send me home a very happy restorer.

With such a wide mix of cars on display, it’s hard to say what was most popular car but undoubtedly the star of the stand was the fully aluminium bodied C Type. Lot’s of people wanted photo’s of that one!

The chill out zone that we created at the back of our display area proved to be popular and the tea, coffee, biscuits, fruit and beer stocks declined nicely as the day went on. When family and friends arrived later in the afternoon, I knew I had found paradise on earth.