Facelift given to Royal favourites;FE Focus

19th February 1999 at 00:00
A 1956 Ford Zephyr in which Prince Philip ferried people around the Sandringham Estate is the latest car to be revamped by vehicle-restoration course students.

Manchester College of Art and Technology is one of a handful in the country offering the course and is the only one with a tie-up with the Heritage Motor Centre run by Rover in Warwickshire.

Initially the centre was hesitant about letting students loose on its priceless classic cars. Another college had brought one of their cars back in buckets, says Peter Barlow, in charge of the course.

He added: "We are the leading centre for this specialist course and had to persuade the centre to trust us. You need a vintage car to teach a car-restoring course."

The college also has close links with the Jaguar Heritage Trust Museum, Coventry, and a Jaguar enthusiasts' club. Since starting seven years ago with a 1909 Austin Endcliffe, the popularity of the course has continued to grow.

The college has 15 full-time students studying for a two-year City amp; Guilds diploma in vehicle restoration. The course has appealed to students ranging from teenagers to a 70-year-old.

Adverts for the course - which requires different skills from those needed to fix modern cars- are posted at vintage car rallies. Students need to be able to tackle specialist wood and metal work, and old-fashioned mechanics, electrics, painting and trimming.

Many students go on to start their own businesses when they finish because there are few openings for this specialist craft.

Becky Douglas, 17, plans to join her mother Sandra, a former student who now runs Doug's Bugs, which specialises in old Volkswagen Beetles.

Becky says: "My mum has always been interested in Beetles and I got involved and thought it would be something different."

Unemployed draughtsman Alan Ratcliffe, 62, (pictured right) is secretary of the Austin A40 Farina Club and now wants a job maintaining the cars.

Two other royal vehicles will follow the Ford Zephyr - a Land Rover and an MGC sports car which was a favourite of the Prince of Wales.

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