All motors great and small

A VINTAGE car used in a hugely popular television period drama has been lovingly restored by a retired mechanic.

Tuesday, 21st August 2012, 2:00 pm

Bruce Grange, who has been restoring cars for almost 40 years, brought the 1934 Austin 7, driven by Christopher Timothy as James Herriot in the 1980s TV series All Creatures Great And Small, back to its former glory.

The owner of Beck Lane Motors in Heckmondwike said his nephew, Philip, worked at the World of James Herriot museum in Thirsk and had offered him the job of doing up the car, which had become badly rusted.

He said: “I went to look at it and I said I would do it. They had to pull a wall down to get it out of the museum. My two sons, Christopher and David, helped with the restoration.

“I had to completely strip it down. It was in a bit of a sorry state when I got it. Nothing fitted right and there was lots of rust.

“When we got the paint stripped off it was a dark blue. I told the museum but they said they wanted it back to the colour it was on TV. So we had the paint matched – we took one of the doors to a place called Monie’s in Leeds, who matched it perfectly for us.

“The hood needed replacing so we had a mohair one made by a Cleckheaton firm.

“It has taken about three months.”

Bruce said the car did not run, as it was just to be used as a museum piece.

The couple took it to the Great Yorkshire Show to meet Christopher Timothy – but when the show was cancelled after a day, they took it to be put back in the museum, where they met the actor.

He said: “Ian Ashton, the museum owner, was amazed by it. When we took it back to the museum they couldn’t believe it.”

Bruce and his wife Kath, of Mirfield, both starred as extras in James Herriot films All Creatures Great and Small, and It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet, during the 1970s, after Bruce restored a Morris 8 which the producers wanted to use in the films.

He is currently working on a 1969 Austin A55 van, and a 1974 MG BGT sports car.

He added: “I’ve lost count of the number of cars I’ve restored over the years.”