The icing on the cake for any restoration project is completing the vehicle's external trim.

The lack of design flexibility in the immediate-post war years meant that manufacturers could rarely go out on a limb with original design ideas.

One of the few obscure concepts was to produce estate cars with a wooden frame. The idea was derived from the famous Woody station wagons that were extremely popular in the United States during the Thirties to  Fifties,

The idea was less widespread in the UK and Europe. The only major manufacturer offering such a model was Morris, with their Mini, Minor and the larger Oxford Traveller version. 

Any car restorer who manages to acquire one of these models, with the Oxford being the rarest, will be faced with the exciting challenge of renewing all if or not most of the frame that will almost certainly have deteriorated having been forced to bear the brunt of decades of  British or Western European winters.

On the upside, the cost of renewing a wooden frame is far from prohibitive and is guaranteed to give the vehicle a whole new lease of life, especially as a part of a paint job package.

Unless the restorer is a competent carpenter in their own right, they should pass on the job to an expert on wooden frame construction who will be capable of providing one of two practical options to create a new wooden frame.

The possibilities are either a high-profile gloss finish or a more understated microporous wood stain.

The decision to which finish to go for should be affected by the colour chosen for the respray and the overall exterior effect.

Most restorers in the know opt for microporous wood stain as it provides excellent protection from water and sun rays. (UV).

 Wood stain frames are more porous, allowing excess water to be quickly discharged from the wood trim. Wood stain frames are also easier to maintain than varnished and are highly unlikely to peel or crack.

Another option that has been around for a while, although it never caught on in the UK, is attaching panels of either veneered or simulated woodgrain trim, usually to the side/bottoms of an estate car.  

While no UK manufacturers have ever produced a car with this exterior trim option as standard or even optional, wooden panelling is a solid alternative for a restorer with imagination who wants to make their classic stand out from the crowd.  

During the Swinging Sixties, a fashion trend that sprung up was attaching simulated cane work panels to the side of the vehicles.  The undoubtedly most popular compact of that exciting time for the UK and European car industry, the Austin Mini was available fitted with cane work sides.

Renowned English actor and comedian of the period, Peter Sellers,  famously owned one.

 Other classics in circulation in the Sixties fitted with latticed cane work sides were the Renault 4 Parisienne and the Fiat 600.

Anyone restoring a Mini or any classic car can also take up the lattice panel option at not too much cost and helping to relive an exciting and revolutionary time for the global car industry.

In recent years a new trend has captured the imagination of those who want their motor car, classic or otherwise, to be that little bit different- or even more!

This new innovation, known as wrapping, can completely transform the vehicle's exterior in just a few hours and at a fraction of the cost of any respray.

Wrapping provides the restorer with tremendous flexibility as to how their car will look- and better still, should they get bored with its appearance, they can remove the vinyl wrapping as rapidly as they attached it.  

What must be remembered is that the vehicle's body and paintwork must be in perfect condition before wrapping, as any blemishes will show through the material, completely ruining the effect.

The wrapping must be applied with great care; otherwise, air bubbles or creases will rapidly show with disastrous effect.

The flexibility of design that wrapping provides means that an owner can bedeck their vehicle, either partially or entirely in a variety of colours and designs- the sky is really the limit.

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A guide to acquiring, restoring and maintaining UK or European Classic Cars of the Fifties and Sixties- as well as a recollection of the iconic cars of the era and the visionaries that produced them.

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