Reims Classic Car :
the workshop that gives a second life to exceptional motor cars
You are still hesitating over buying at auction either a racing or a vintage car to restore it ? Reims Classic Auto has the solution ! This classic motor cars restoration workshop designs the complete refurbishment of prestige old or modern vehicles. The garage gives mythical cars a second chance to make them last forever.
On the occasion of the Rétromobile show that will open its gates at the exhibition Park in Porte de Versailles, we have met Jean-Baptiste Soulier, one of Reims Classic Auto's managers. With his associates Bruno Paillard and Phillipe Baijot, they built a team of real enthusiasts and offer classic motorcars' restoration, renovation and maintenance services in a workshop dedicated to exceptional cars.
Between art and craft : a top range restoration
Each year, the workshop produces between 6 and 10 complete car restorations. At first sight, the number can seem low, but it reflects the quality of the work done and the time that takes the complete renovation of these exceptional cars. The rare skills of the car body designers, saddlers and mechanics in this Reims garage participates with brio in giving a second life to mythical cars.
The workshop restores cars from 1920 to 1991 : a wide timeframe, with all the legendary brands : "this is a demanding job" tells the manager. "Either if you have a prestige old or modern car, a collector's or racing car, we give you the best answers to your expectations." Reims Classic Auto chose a top range and "made-in-france" positioning. Concerning certain specialities, such as the brakes or the chrome plating, the workshop subcontracts experts, always based in France. "Thanks to this, we can control the quality of the restoration" explains Jean-Baptiste Soulier.
The best keys to restore a vintage car
To start the work, the team needs to have the vehicle in their workshop in Reims. The first stage is to make a complete audit in order to understand what are the real requirements in terms of restoration.
Reims Classic Auto's car body designers and mechanics identify the maximum of problems and changes to make.
Initially, this expertise audit allows to define the time required for the car restoration. The workshop can suggest additional options. It is important to keep in mind that everything is possible, according to the car owner's budget.
The company offers to refurbish the vehicle as the original one and in this process of restoration, the communication with the customer is essential. Also, the workshop exchanges a lot with the car owner, especially about his/her expectations. For example : do you want to replace everything with new pieces ? Do you want to keep some historical details ?
This allows the client to start the project on good faith, a faith shared between the client and the workshop "We consider the different budgets and we know where we are going" assures Jean-Baptiste Soulier.
When everything has been settled, "We order the pieces straightaway and we add the vehicle to the work plan", he explains.
Thus, "There are several work sites at the same time because one of the main imponderables is the ordering period and the reception of the pieces. Other imponderables : pieces that seem to be in good condition but finally appear to be broken".
Passion for old cars
"That's a fans' thing" : trust and transparency are the team's keywords at Reims Classic Auto. Each week, Jean-Baptiste Soulier offers to its customers a report to show the progress of the restoration. The cars' owners, coming from everywhere in France but also from bordering countries like Luxembourg and Belgium, often come to see their vehicle during the restoration process. Moreover, "we are close to the train station, and Paris is less than one hour from here", explains Jean-Baptiste Soulier, which allows an easy access to the Reims workshop.
Telling the story of the vehicle
Before starting the proper restoration of these exceptional motor cars, "we gather a maximum of information on the vehicle. The owners are often real enthusiasts, they provide us with precious documents to tell the story of the vehicle" : car registration document, car insurance, rally,... "Then, most of the time, we know where it comes from." Almost 50 % of the vehicles restored by Reims Classic Auto have been bought by their owners at auction.
Is it interesting to buy your collector's car at auction ?
"A rare vehicle bought at auction, can allow a capital gain, even with the cost of the restoration", explains Jean-Baptiste Soulier.
Indeed, a thorough restoration, with specialists and experts, with a singular savoir-faire, with a particular oil use for example, increases the vehicle's quote.
"This is the case for a DS cabriolet from 1967 bought 75 000 €, with a restoration of almost 200 000 €, today the car costs 500 000 €". "But be careful, he clarifies, "this is not the case for all the models, this calculation is not valid for a 2CV for example".
The expert's advice to buy your vintage car
Buy the car of your dreams, that you find to be amazing, would be the second advice from Jean-Baptiste Soulier. "It should move you".
When we ask him what is his best restoration memory, he would say it is "rather several ones and at the same time always the same : to see the customer's eyes sparkling when we deliver the vehicle. Just with this gaze he thanks the entire crew for the accomplished work. In the end, everyon is happy".
Find Reims Classic Auto at the rétromobile show, stand 1J091