Car Restoration in Holland

I have a friend, Brian, who shares my interest in cars. I keep him up to date with my automotive blog posts and he was particularly interested in the ones concerning the Austin Healey 100. One of the reasons for his interest was that his family knew the Neale family. Eric Neale was Chief Engineer at the Jensen Motor Company where the Austin Healey bodies and chassis were assembled and his father was manager of the ‘Timber Department’ at the Austin Motor Company’s Longbridge factory. Brian’s family supplied packing cases to Austin and other U.K. motor manufacturers.
So that is a little about Brian but why is he featured in this blog?

Well, one of Brian’s sons is studying in the Netherlands and Brian was going to visit him. I suggested to Brian that he should try to visit the Healey Museum in Vreeland which is not far from Amsterdam. He thought that was a good idea and this is his story of that visit but as you will find out, he discovered even more automotive delights than just the excellent Healeys: – “I left for Niignmegen on Monday the 26th of August and whilst there asked my son and his wife what was the best way to get to the Healey Museum at Bergseweg near Breukelen. Following their advice I set out on my adventure on Thursday the 5th September .

I caught a train to Utrecht, from there another train to Breukelen ( Brooklyn in the USA was named after Breuklen in the Netherlands I was told)  from here I took a bus to a small village and then a mini bus to a hamlet, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. 

I was then told that the next step was just that, to walk, so off I went. It’s a lovely area so it was no hardship walking by the side of the canal in the countryside. After a few hundred yards I came to, on my left, a factory unit with a large yard in which were collected a number of vintage cars, a veritable hoard, predominantly British, a feast for the eyes. 

I could see three MGB’s, a Ferrari, Bentley, four Jaguar XJ6’s, a TR6, a Fiat sports car, Lancia, NSU, and Alfa Romeo,  I assumed this must be part of the Healey museum and walked into the yard and up to a young man working on a 1950 ish BMW tourer. I asked him if this was indeed part of the Healey museum, his response surprised me, he said no the Healey museum was about 500mtrs along the road, this was  Classic Restoration Services.

I asked if I could have a look around and take a few photographs, he said I would have to ask the owner who was working in the factory unit. So, off I went to find said owner. I found him working on an inboard disc set from an E Type Jaguar and he was surrounded by goodies! Ferraris, Lamborghini’s, Lancia’s, but mostly Jaguars, XK140’s and XK150’s an E type and more XJ saloons, amazing! I spoke to him and he was very helpful and friendly, he indicated that I was welcome to have a look around and take photos as I wished. He mentioned that in the next bay was the trim shop and on from that was the body shop. 

I was like a kid in a candy shop. In the trim shop was a MK 8 Jaguar saloon being converted, very tastefully I add, into a cabriolet and next door was a XK140 in dull silver with another Lancia and two MK2 Jaguar saloons, unbelievable; some were being worked on, some finished. After catching my breath and taking many photos I talked to the owner, thanked him and bade him farewell. (Serendipity or what!) 

Off then to my original destination, the Healey Museum, time was pressing on and I knew I had the buses and trains to catch to get back to Nijmegan, it was already 3.30pm. Up the road I walked, not far, to the gate of what was obviously the Healey Museum, there was a sign on the gates saying just that but they were closed and for a moment I thought the museum was also closed. My attention was drawn to a key pad with buttons on it, I pressed one and a woman’s voice said “push the gate”. I heard a buzzing noise, and I was in! At the reception area the lady, whose voice I had heard at the gate, welcomed me and pointed out some of the exhibits. The inside of the museum was light and spacious, full of Healeys and Austin Healeys complete with memorabilia. There was a Mk. 1 Sprite (‘Frog Eye’) displayed in the roof space, an original Healey Silverstone, one of the first prototype Austin Healey 100’s, a bar, a cinema and much much more. For a Healey enthusiast it was truly heaven.                   

I then discovered that the lady that had been so helpful to me was in fact the wife of           Hans van de Kerkhof, the owner of the muesum. She told me that Hans would be over in a minute and indeed he was. We shook hands and I explained how I had come to be there, that you had corresponded with the secretary of the museum Jack Hoogland, and as I was coming over to Holland to visit my son that I should call in. I asked if Jack was there, but unfortunately he was not. 

Hans showed me around the museum and kindly gave me a drink by which time I was becoming rather nervous about the time, saying I must leave soon to catch the buses and trains. Mrs. Van de Kerkhof was standing close by and heard me express my concern. She graciously offered to take me to the station, which she suggested would allow me to stay longer. 

Eventually it was time to say farewell to Hans who invited me to return soon. We took the scenic route which certainly was beautiful in the glow of a late sunny afternoon. My charming chauffeuse insisted on stopping frequently to allow me to take photographs of the countryside and the canal winding its way through the village. 
I just made the train, (I thanked her profusely, she and her husband had been so kind) and then caught the second train, scrapping back into Nijmegen to meet my son and his wife, being late by just ten minutes!”

So that is Brian’s fascinating story which, in the case of the CRS discovery is certainly in keeping with the ‘serendipity’ theme of this blog.

Because the story has two distinct themes I think that it is only fair to devote a post to each.
The one you are looking at now is dedicated to ‘Classic Restoration Services‘. 
Here are Brian’s photos from that section of this trip: –

Jaguar XK140s

 

Jaguar XK 150 Convertible

Jaguar E Types

 

Lancia Flaminia Touring Coupe

Work in Progress – Can you identify these cars? I think I can but if you want to test your car identification skills I would be pleased to receive your answers.

 

 

De Tomaso Pantera

Fiat 2300S Coupe Styled by Ghia

BMW 327 Cabriolet

The Boss – Mr. Srdjan Jovovic

As always, thanks for your visit, I hope that you have enjoyed it.


With best wishes,


Nick

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