1930s Vauxhall brought back to life thanks to Salopian's seven-year quest

When Reg Milner told a friend he wanted to buy a Vauxhall 14, regardless of condition, he probably didn't know what he was letting himself in for.

Reg Milner with the Vauxhall 134 he restored with his brother Dennis
Reg Milner with the Vauxhall 134 he restored with his brother Dennis

The 1930s saloon car – reputedly the transport of choice of King George VI ­– was the car his father owned when he was growing up, and the pair had many happy memories of tinkering with it.

But when Reg finally did find one that was ripe for restoration, he could have been forgiven for having second thoughts.

"The bodyshell was in one haulage crate, the chassis was in another," says the retired mechanic, who lives in Montford Bridge.

"The rest of it was in five tea chests, and we had no idea what was missing."

Reg working with his father, also called Reg, on an old Austin 7 in the 1970s

Nevertheless, Reg, 76, and his brother Dennis, 75, decidcd to embark on the project. And seven years later they are now able to enjoy the fruits of their labour, having turned the box of rusting bits into a gleaming classic car that attract attention wherever it goes.

The smell of the freshly applied paint, the gleaming chrome flutes on the bonnet, the supple brown leather interior are all the result of the brothers' hard work. Parts have been sourced from all over the world: "Dennis got a lot of the parts from Australia and New Zealand, there a lot of them down there," he says.

The car isn't concours. Some of the brightwork is slightly pitted, Reg wanted to keep it that way, feeling it was important to retain some of the 'old car' patina.

The brothers completely restored the bodyshell of the 1937 Vauxhall

Reg says he doesn't know exactly how much they have spent on the project, and perhaps it is for the best.

"I think if I sat down and looked at it, I would think I should have bought one that didn't need any work in the first place," he says.

"Then again, it wouldn't have kept us occupied for the past few years, would it?"

Reg remembers how, as a youngster, he couldn't wait to get home from school to help his dad, also called Reg, who ran a small garage next to the family home in the Monkmoor area of Shrewsbury.

The restored engine bay of the Vauxhall 14
Inside the 1937 Vauxhall 14

And he particularly remembers helping his father fit a radio to the family Vauxhall.

"My mum bought the radio as a kit, and I helped him assemble it and fit it to the car," he recalls fondly.

And the icing on the cake came when his friend Ian Page, who keeps a garage in Clive, found a radio identical to the one they fitted to his father's car back in the 1950s.

"When I came home from school he would be working on his cars, and I would be working with him," says Reg who, along with Dennis, followed his father by joining the family business. They later kept the Falstaff Street Garage in Shrewsbury, but Dennis decided there was more money in the building trade.

"I always said if I ever find one of these cars, no matter what state it was in, that I would buy it, " says Reg.

Reg, who has also restored two Jaguar XJS coupes and a Morris Minor, says he has been approached by the Greenhous Vauxhall dealer in Telford, which wants to display the car in its showroom – a request he is still mulling over.

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