Classic car trimmer tells of her love for restoring history

Every classic car is a little slice of history with its own distinctive style and personality.

Liz Collings from Classic Motor Car in Bridgnorth
Liz Collings from Classic Motor Car in Bridgnorth

And for Liz Collings who works at Bridgnorth-based Classic Motor Cars (CMC) this is what makes these vintage motors so appealing.

As a classic car trimmer, it’s her job to help ensure the interior of every vehicle that passes through the workshop is looking its very best and she is skilled in making everything from seats to convertible hoods.

“I love anything old and unusual. Before I could even drive I always wanted a Volkswagen Beetle. A few years after I passed my test I got my Beetle and started going to car clubs and shows.

“I like old cars. They don’t make them the same now. These days they are very boring and generic looking. Old cars are all so different,” says Liz, who lives in Wolverhampton.

The 37-year-old first honed her sewing skills while studying fashion at Stafford College and she decided to test her trimming ideas out on her long-awaited Beetle.

“I trimmed the seats out of a fluffy throw that I bought. It was so shaggy and furry, it was like being hugged in the car,” Liz tells Weekend.

Liz Collings from Classic Motor Car in Bridgnorth

She started making a living from trimming in 2014 by setting up her own business with help from the Prince’s Trust.

“Over the years I had developed an interest in classic cars, especially VWs, and it was good to combine a skill and a hobby.

“As time went on I realised that I wasn’t that good at being self-employed but I really loved the job.

“I’ve always been practically minded and like working with my hands and being creative,” explains Liz.

She began working for CMC in June 2019, originally as a self-employed sub-contractor before becoming a permanent member of staff in March this year.

Liz Collings from Classic Motor Car in Bridgnorth

Founded in 1993, the award-winning firm based on Stanmore Business Park has been at the forefront of classic car restoration for the last 25 years starting with Jaguar and then moving on to other marques including Aston Martin and Lancia, amongst others. The company is an employer owned trust which means the staff own and run the business themselves and it is a partner of The Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology (MCMT).

Since joining the experienced CMC team, Liz has been keen to build up her knowledge and skills.

“There is still so much to learn because there are so many different parts, everything has to be tailor made,” she tells Weekend.

Her projects can range from preserving and repairing the existing interior of a car to replacing upholstery and creating custom interiors.

Liz will work on many different components including the carpets, seats, headliners, convertible roofs, door panels and boot linings.

Liz Collings from Classic Motor Car in Bridgnorth

Although she has lost count of how many cars she has worked on, her favourites have included a Ford Model A and a Rolls Royce from the 1930s.

The latter was a preservation project which meant carrying out repairs while keeping all of the original components so it looked as close as possible to how it would have done when it rolled off the assembly line for the first time.

“I really enjoyed this even though we weren’t putting anything new in, we were preserving it because it was such a good example of this car,” explains Liz, who owns a 1972 VW Beetle and two VW campervans, which she hopes to restore one day.

At the moment she is making parts for a Jaguar XJS and two Jaguar E-Types and is also part of the team working on restoring one of the world’s rarest cars, the Aston Martin Bulldog.

The British icon was designed by Aston Martin in the late 1970s to show off the capabilities of its new engineering facility.

Liz Collings from Classic Motor Car in Bridgnorth

Aston Martin believed that the car was capable of well in excess of 200mph, however due to budgetary constraints the testing runs were only able to prove 192mph.

Its current owner has sent it to CMC for a full nut and bolt restoration, which will take 18 months to complete.

The plan is to then test the car’s mettle by running it at over 200mph and then take it on a world tour.

Former Codsall High School pupil Liz says she is excited to be part of the Bulldog team working to return the car to its former glory.

“It’s quite a privilege. I was put on the team because of my sewing accuracy and attention to detail,” she explains.

Liz Collings from Classic Motor Car in Bridgnorth

One of the best things about working as a car trimmer is that the work is never dull.

“I enjoy the variety, being able to play with lots of different cars and being creative in a role where I can use my skills.

“I couldn’t work in an office, I work better doing a hands-on job,” she says.

Finishing a project and returning to a car to its owner always makes the hard work worthwhile for Liz.

“There is nothing better than finishing a job and seeing the customer’s reaction.

“When I was working for myself this was always the most rewarding thing too. All of the cars I ever did were people’s pride and joy, people would enjoy them and take them all over the place and we get that here too,” she says.

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