The specialist: HC Classics

| 22 Sep 2023
Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: HC Classics

HC Classics Ltd, based near Shaftesbury, has risen to prominence over the past few years mainly for its quality interior trimming.

Working with leather, vinyl, Alcantara, wood veneers, carpets and hood fabrics, the team has amassed an impressive CV across a variety of projects.

Complete leather retrims of an Alfa Romeo 2000 Sprint and a Lancia Flavia 2000 Coupé are recent examples.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: HC Classics
HC Classics in Wiltshire has established a solid reputation for the quality of its trim work and interior redesigns

As well as the trim work, HC will tackle electrical and sound-system requirements, and even redesign seats and tailor driving positions to suit an owner’s personal measurements.

The COVID-19 lockdown also had an effect on the business.

Not in a negative way, however, but rather as an invitation to diversify.

“People started thinking about staycations and what would be the ideal all-purpose vehicle,” explains HC Classics’ co-founder Richard Carp.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: HC Classics
Artisan handiwork in leather was HC Classics’ traditional specialism

“We found that Land Rover Discovery Series 1s were overlooked as a basis for an upgraded off-road classic,” he continues, “so we focused on producing fully rebuilt examples, either Tdi or electric-powered, with a sort of ‘Swiss army knife’ theme.”

While not aimed at Discovery purists, these moody-looking creations have a specification that includes a space-heater, solar panels, a built-in tent and even a safe.

That the company’s skills extend beyond interior renovation was also evidenced by the ambitious Peugeot Break Riviera, a recreation of the long-disappeared one-off Pininfarina shooting brake show car that, as well as requiring a bespoke rear seat frame and hinges, and wooden flooring for the luggage deck, needed all of its outer panels aft of the front door recreated from period photos.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: HC Classics
Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: HC Classics
This Bristol 401 is one of several examples of the marque restored by HC Classics’ team in Poland

There are plans afoot to follow the Peugeot with a two-door Rover 2000 coupé inspired by the Graber-bodied car of the late 1960s.

Such recreations require an understanding of CAD prototyping techniques, in which Richard is well steeped.

Having studied automotive and transport design at Coventry University, his first job was as an interior designer at VDO in Frankfurt, with clients including most German and Scandinavian car makers.

He was also design manager at Ogle Design, covering vehicle and aviation interior projects: Renault AE trucks, British Aerospace Jetstream cabins, first- and business-class ‘pods’ for BA and Virgin Atlantic, and aircraft simulator exteriors all fell under his remit.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: HC Classics
Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: HC Classics
Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: HC Classics
Clockwise from top: Richard’s background in design informs the process; CAD prototyping plays an important role; assembling the finished Peugeot Break Riviera

In the meantime, Richard was getting hooked on old cars.

He is a long-term owner of a Sunbeam-Talbot Alpine, has ticked a 246 Dino off the list, and is currently finishing a Series 1 Jensen Interceptor and an early Range Rover. He has a Renault 6 as a daily runaround.

HC Classics was founded in 2017 with his wife Elaine Heseltine (The ‘H’ in HC), and the mission was not only to work to the highest standards, but also to adhere to the efficient turnaround times that are often sadly lacking in the classic restoration trade.

Supported by general manager Ilja Szklinski, Richard has assembled a crew of five full-time trimmers and one mechanic, plus a team of highly skilled painters and panelbeaters in Poland, who are particularly proud of their aluminium-working skills showcased on a variety of ground-up Bristol restorations.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: HC Classics
Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: HC Classics
The Peugeot Break Riviera recreation showcased HC Classics’ full skill set

“We no longer do acid-dipping because it’s antisocial to man and the environment,” says Richard.

“We use a new process using a high-pressure water jet, which is much faster and safer.

“We will also tackle brightwork rechroming, engine rebuilds, and the full suspension and drivetrain package if the customer requests it.

“My staff are all very experienced craftsmen with a work ethic that is not always easy to find.”

Images: Jayson Fong/Luc Lacey/HC Classics


The knowledge

  • Name HC Classics
  • Address Lower Leigh Farm, Tokes Lane, East Knoyle, Wiltshire SP3 6BZ
  • Specialism Trim and bodywork restoration
  • Staff Six
  • Prices Hourly rate £58+VAT
  • Tel 07785 760596
  • Web hcclassics.co.uk

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