Once a vehicle has arrived at BMT, a compilation of photos are taken and catalogued. Panels, mechanical components and wiring are dismantled from the car, carefully documented, tagged and housed in its personal steel cage labeled with its own BMT code number for the car.
The shell is then brought to sandblasting where any rust, bondo or filler is removed from the body. Mechanical parts of the drivetrain are also sandblasted such as the axle, propshaft, and some engine compartments. A protective layer of primer is coated over the shell in the body shop which leaves a fresh, blank canvas for our bodyworks team, which is its next port of call.
The body is placed on a frame with temporary bars welded for structural support to the shell as body work commences. Any rusted panels are replaced with newly fabricated repair panels from a trusted parts supplier. If in the case where panels are unavailable, the fabrication team manufactures replacement panels in-house. The highest quality steel is used by our master denters, who recreate an exact replica panel. Handmade panels may include sills, floor pans, door skins, boot floor, battery tray, firewall or tank. No panel presents a problem for our highly skilled in-house team here at BMT. Machinery and tools offer little computer assistance with panel fabrication, as only traditional panel beating methods are used in our facilities. As the steel body is hammered and filed while continually being checked for high and low areas. Door, bonnet and boot gaps are measured also to ensure fit throughout the restoration process.
After the vehicle has finished in the denting department it comes through to our Body Prep Department where it is inspected and finalized prior to paint. Each vehicle is completely stripped down to bare metal by hand or light machines and sometimes hard to reach areas will be carefully given chemical and media treated to ensure that all corrosion is eliminated and treated. Vehicles are then primed and prepped for any detailing work they may need to have done.
Once primed all over, inside and out, we will inspect the vehicle thoroughly to discover any highs and lows that may need further attention. Once satisfied the vehicle will then be blocked by hand and have a 2-pack stopper filler or filler primer applied as needed to shape panels and fine detail. This process will take 6 – 8 weeks or until we are completely satisfied with the finished results. When the vehicle is shaped and detailed it will be primed again, baked in a low bake oven and completely refitted with all parts to check for alignment, double check all gaps, and ensure windows all fit correctly. Only when we are content that everything is 100%, the vehicle is then stripped of all its parts and will advance into our Paint Department.
In the paint shop, the vehicle undergoes a series of processes before painting. Before any work commences, all of the debris sand from the sandblasting booth is blown away. Primer is applied to protect the shell. Stone chip is applied in areas prone to rust, giving the ultimate protection for the future. Once the panels are perfectly aligned after body work has been completed, they are carefully removed and painted seperately from the shell. Etch primer is blown over the car, then Zinc Chromate primer and finally three full coats of High-Fill primer is applied. The primer is rubbed back, then a guide coat of black is used which allows the painter to assess any areas that need refinements with bondo to create a flawlessly smooth finish. Three coats of a Glasurite color are applied, followed by six coats of clear lacquer. Then the shell is left to sit for a few days to let the paint and lacquer harden. Sanding down the lacquer to achieve a deep shine is started with 1500 grit paper and finished in 5000 grit. In the next stage, the paint is buffed and finished with a fine hand glaze before it is sent to final assembly in the Classics Finishing Department.
In the mechanical finishing section, the car begins to take shape. As needed: Copper brake and fuel lines are custom made and carefully bent and fitted to the chassis. Front suspensions can be zinc plated to protect the freshly painted metal from corrosion. Some of the new mechanical parts for the transmission include but are not limited to: new hubs, wheel bearings, a new gearbox seal and hydrovac. Rear differentials are fitted and axle mounted to the car. Before an engine is fitted to the body, it goes through a rigorous test on an engine dyno, where the engine is put through its paces after its rebuild, and bedded in.
Once checked, the engine is fitted and the loom and wiring carefully positioned. Front suspensions are meticulously installed, whilst the space frame fits snugly around the new engine. Now that the car is on all four wheels, trimmers get to work on the interior trim. Door cards, seats, dashboard panels are all beautifully fitted by our trimmers. Doors, boot-lid, lights, windows, bumpers and front bonnet are some of the final pieces to go onto the vehicle. Once a final quality check is completed, the car is sent back to the Paint Shop for final detailing where it receives a conclusive deep buff, clean and polish inside and out. It is then hosted by our Media Department where a full photo-shoot takes place to capture the beauty and presence of the newly built car for our website and personal vehicle restoration guide.