Car body shop revealed as place where legends are reborn
Regular customers to a trading estate car body repair shop off Gloucester’s Bristol road will probably be concerned only with the dents in their own car and those their wallets might take.
But scratch beneath the surface of the charmingly named Polite Auto Body Shop and you will find solid evidence your vehicle is in a good place – no matter what its condition.
While its bread and butter is repairing the kinds of damage – big and small – that afflicts most motorists at some point during their career behind the wheel, staff at the Madleaze Trading Estate-based business has an incredible side-hustle.
The experienced team at the otherwise innocuous looking garage is repairing and completely overhauling the bodywork of some of the finest (at least by the time they leave their workshop) classic cars you could care to drive.
“We had the pleasure to restore a 1971 280 SE coupe version with a 3.5 litre V8 engine. The car came to us from Japan in one piece, but the entire body was heavily rusted,” said business owner Jan Zakrzewski, who also has an MBA.
Mr Zakrzewski, who came to the country from his native Poland some years ago after selling his house and eventually investing in the garage. He explained the secret to his small team showing up on the radar of those willing and able to restore such vehicles to their former glory (or better) was simple.
“The staff here are still able to do things in the old ways. These are skills which are dying out and not many people can do what they can do anymore. And they are very good at it,” he said.
As for the Merc (not the only one passing through its hands this year), it is now with its owner, but the garage has brought back to life a Cortina Mk 1 and a rare Iso Rivolta – the 5.7 litre Italian sports car.
“We disassembled the Mercedes for shot blasting, welding, leading and metal rust proofing treatment, before spraying with epoxy primer, then with polyester filler, and a final coat of primer.
“This was followed by spraying the basecoat, then five coats of clear lacquer applied over five days, with two coats each time.
“Afterwards, the car was re-assembled and prepared before being taken to an upholstery specialist for a complete interior retrim.”
A mint condition SL (Pagoda) version of the car can be found on auction website eBay for a cool £135,000, but you can pick up a not so good condition one from £20,000 upwards.
Expect to pay much more for one in good condition. Less than 100,000 were made originally and fewer still are on the roads now. At least now, thanks to the team at The Polite Auto Body Shop one more should be around for a little while longer yet.