Imagine if your dear old aunt left you a wonderful piece of property and you discovered an old rare car in the barn. Or, more likely, you’ve always wanted to own the car you dreamed about when you were a kid, and now you’ve found it. But the well-worn specimen needs work to make it like new again.
Since you live in Ranch & Coast territory, you’re in luck. One of the best-known restoration businesses in the country is in Escondido and there’s little that Alan Taylor and his professional team can’t do. Baron Lawrence Dorsey’s 1917 American LaFrance was missing a fender or two, among other things. Not a problem, Taylor made new parts.
In fact, making new parts from scratch is routine for the Taylor organization, since it’s impossible to find replacement bits at a local LaSalle dealership. Alan creates new components for his own customers as well as other restorers who seek out his shop. A big, classic steering wheel is a perfect example of a handcrafted component that has helped earn Taylor his enviable reputation. And over the years, he has partnered with local craftspeople to produce specialty items, like the recreation of an enameled car badge from the 1930s.
Most restoration is accomplished to bring a classic car back to original condition so that it can compete in classic shows including the famous Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, or a local gathering like the La Jolla Motor Car Classic. But some owners simply want to drive their wonderful cars without manually shifting a clunky gearbox or building new biceps steering a massive motorcar.
For those discerning owners, Taylor will create a power steering system or install an automatic transmission to make the car perfectly drivable. When I visited the shop, one of his technicians, an engineer by trade, was designing a power steering system that would hardly impact the visual integrity of the vehicle. The only way one would discover the modification would be to crawl under the car and peek at the system or enjoy driving a stately car like this one without effort.
Complete restoration of vintage cars is quite different than normal auto repair in many ways. A restorer like Alan Taylor’s company has expertise in all the mechanical aspects, from complete body repair and fabrication to upholstery and wood restoration. Taylor’s upholstery department is not only staffed with professionals who can replicate the workmanship of the classic era, they have the rare materials on hand to work with. So if your classic requires alligator, water buffalo, or ostrich for seat covering, they’ll have it in stock and know how to work with these uncommon commodities.
While Taylor’s company specializes in classic restoration, they also restore more contemporary vehicles. I witnessed a Maserati Ghibli Spyder in the process of a complete restoration, much of the work to correct the improper body repairs that occurred after a collision in its past. This time, the monocoque frame would be properly straightened to enable the bodywork fit without inappropriate and unnecessary modification.
That process of correcting someone’s inadequate work reminded me of another value of a resource like the Alan Taylor Company. If you happen to find that lovely classic or rare car, having it checked out by Taylor’s crew might be the best insurance money you’ll ever spend. (760/489-0657, www.alantaylorcompany.com)