By Craig Wilson.
It is always interesting when you are invited into a business and find an owner who is not only a master of his trade, but a young lateral thinker with a 20-year vision mapped out.
This was my privilege in 2018 when asked by a mutual friend, Alistair Rees to talk with Adam Doyle-Smith about his business – Automotive Craftsmen in Browns Plains, Brisbane – and his vision to create not only a world class restoration business, but an institute to bring back the art of proper coach building, learning and restorations. Embracing the age-old artisan skills of metal forming with modern technology is the essence of this young man’s dream.
He started out as a schoolboy working in his school holidays in Brisbane or travelling to Melbourne (courtesy of his Mum, Sharon who joined us) and other places to learn the art from people like Peter Tommasini – Classic Car Restoration & Panel Fabrication Melbourne, Nick Contarino – Exclusive Auto Centre Brisbane, and work on some exquisite cars with Wolf Grodd – Sleeping Beauties Brisbane.
One of the recent projects was driven there by Wolf on the day for us to see. The 1925 Lorraine Dietrich is just amazing and a tribute to all those craftsmen who have worked on it. Adam built the body from the firewall back and it is spectacular workmanship. These cars won Le Mans in 1925 and 1926, so a pretty special car.
Long time friend and Lotus man, Alistair Rees is mentoring Adam on his journey and the development of the business. They have plans to reintroduce and develop the coach building trades and introduce specialist composite repairs and new technology including their current specialised IT solutions in the future.
When I visited in 2018 Adam was finishing off two US made Ferrari California replica alloy bodies which were not correct, and thus were entrusted to him to remake true to the original. He did a beautiful job on them too.
Adam, and his business associate Luke have spent four years restoring three 1960’s Lancia Flaminias – 2 GT Coupes and a convertible which is the last one to complete. As usual the Italian metal has rusted away to lacework and Adam has completely rebuilt the body structure and remade the alloy panels. Luke has completed much of the assembly and they are better than new.
And to the Lotus scene.
Many of you will know that Ashton Roskill’s Eleven met with some unfortunate body modifications en route to the Lotus 2019 Nationals in QLD. I recommended Adam to Ashton on the Lotus 2019 weekend and eventually Shannons Insurance gave the go ahead for Adam to repair and rebuild the car.
It looked very sad but is coming along nicely. Adam gave us a very noisy master class in how to transform a flat piece of alloy into one of the original 18 sections of the Eleven bonnet. It was truly mesmerising how he beat this piece of alloy on a tree stump with a hammer, shrinking and stretching the alloy into the shape then created a beautiful piece by manipulating the metal with the English Wheel. It is an art and he said it keeps him very fit.
Tony Galletly also bought along his pristine S2 Eleven for display. Looking beautiful as always. Thanks Tony.
For an old lean and continuous improvement specialist, it is great to see a workshop so well organised with a place for everything, clean light grey floors and everything in its place, even on a casual drop-in visit. The workmanship is amazing, the attitude is welcoming, and we hope the vision comes true.
Thanks to Adam, Luke and the Automotive Craftsmen team for a very enjoyable shed tour and we look forward to progress on the Eleven project.