Bradford auto shop turns beat-up into beautiful

The Guild of Automotive Restorers Revitalizes Old and Classic Vehicles for Customers Around the World

The Guild of Automotive Restorers has been a prominent location in Bradford West Gwillimbury for many years. The 22,000-square-foot space is filled with vintage vehicles such as hot rods, muscle cars, motorcycles, army jeeps, and even small airplanes.

In the 1970s, a young man named David Grainger made a living as a wildlife artist. Grainger would drive cheap used army vehicles to trek across rough landscapes to reach his destination and found that they were easy to maintain. He learned to restore old ones, which ignited a new hobby, something he quickly became passionate about.

This got a further boost when he met Janice, who he also described as “Gear Head”. Their first dates included wandering yards and collecting pieces of old cars. For some, it’s more romantic than a long walk on the beach.

Grainger and his now-wife Janice Stone started the guild 30 years ago in a two-car garage next to their home. They will continue to collect beat-up vehicles from the yard and reposition them until they are suitable for sale. From there, they moved to a small industrial unit in Aurora and eventually developed into a 10,000-square-foot building in Newmarket.

Finally, he found his current location in Bradford when he purchased the old farmers market building on Bridge Street. You can see it from afar, thanks to the large windmill that sits on top.

“The opportunity has presented itself to keep going, but we are already working on 60 to 70 projects at a time, so if we get a bigger one, we won’t be able to continue. It is manageable. ,” says Grainger.

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The Guild has been in Bradford all these years mainly because of the convenience of the location.

“The customer base isn’t necessarily in Bradford,” Grainger says. “Our geographic location depends more on the ability of our employees to contact us. Plus, it’s an easy commute for me and Janice.

Grainger says he has more Monte Carlo clients than Bradford, but his admiration for the city stems from a great community with great people, which is a big reason he lives here.

One of Grainger’s biggest clients was Chris Ohrstrom, President of the World Monuments Fund and the restoration of the Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Special, a legendary vehicle with an interesting story.

A customer in Japan was dismantling his old car collection and presented Grainger with a worn-out Alfa Romeo that was in such bad shape that they couldn’t identify which model it was. The client described it as “some kind of roadster”.

Upon arrival, it looked like a piece of junk, but after a little research, they found it was a well-known prototype from the late 1940s. Cars like this didn’t exist before the war, so it was stylistically different from what people were used to and inspired so many designs after that, which is why it was such an important piece to be restored.

Grainger sums up the significance by saying, “If that car wasn’t there, cars like Ferrari, GM and Ford would be a completely different car.” A few years and $2 million later, the vehicle was restored and eventually properly preserved and has since received many accolades.

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Like most restorations in the Guild, most of the work was done in his own shop. The talented staff are able to seamlessly rebuild the engine, reupholster the seats and even match the type of paint used when the car was originally built.

Grainger proudly says, “It’s a meticulous process, but it must be done right. If a car has 40,000 parts and only 39,990 of them are done properly, people will only remember the last 10 parts.” .

The forward thinker he has always been, has a realistic view of the future; He predicts that the business will not exist in 50 years. “It’s dying,” he says, shaking his head.

But Grainger’s solution to keep it going is surprising, which is to start the process of electric conversion on classic cars. “I love driving classic cars, but I don’t like driving them on today’s roads,” he explains. An understandable concern considering the agility of modern vehicles, namely the Tesla, is taking over the streets, and the classics won’t be able to live up to the present.

The scheme is already in place and will start soon as per the terms and conditions. “What he’s going to do is help bring the old car hobby to a new generation,” Grainger adds.

Grainger also raved about his Chevrolet Volt, which lasted longer than any car he owned. For a man who has perfected the restoration business for as many years as one would expect, one would expect to work every day in a sporty or luxurious classic vehicle, but it’s clear that man loves practicality and novelty. . However, if he had to choose the one and only one to drive forever, it would be a 1929 Bentley.

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Catch David Grainger in the ninth season of his TV series restoration garage,