Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars first series begins

Drew Pritchard and Paul Cowland tell AutoClassics of their best moments and their favourite cars on their all-new Discovery TV series

Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars has hit the screen, featuring old friends Drew Pritchard and Paul Cowland, who track down the best cars they can find in the classic world. It follows the format of Drew’s hugely successful Salvage Hunters antiques programme, now in its 11th series, with petrolhead Drew joined by serial car buyer and restorer Paul Cowland.

We talk to the two of them ahead of the show’s debut, to hear of some of the show’s highlights, and why they’ve done it.

Drew Pritchard on the fun of it all

'I’ve spent the last eight years begging Discovery to let me do a car programme, and then one day they came to me and said, ‘Would you like to do a car programme?’ Yes! And it’s the most real car programme out there, just like Salvage Hunters is the most real antiques programme. It’s our money, we’ve spent over £100,000 buying these cars, and they’ve taken us a year to do.

'We’ve sold them all bar one now, and the people bought them because of what we’ve done to them. I always subtly personalise my cars, just change them to the way I think they should be. The Mk2 we gave the Coombs look, the MkI Golf GTI we put on Pirelli alloys, that kind of thing.

'It’s all about the fun of buying and selling cars, that addiction of buying a car and immediately thinking about what to buy next, about wanting to try everything. I think I almost have owned everything over the years though I’ve never had a Rolls-Royce or a Bentley. Maybe that will be the next purchase…

'Really, we just wanted to have fun. We’ve done it because we love it, and the rest of the crew are the same. The only one who wasn’t into cars was Simon the soundman, and now he’s been out and bought a Porsche Boxster – and the right one too, a 3.2S manual. He knew to get that one.

'You wouldn’t believe the skills – ah, the skills! – we’ve seen filming. The lad who louvred the Jaguar bonnet… oh my life! He built an Alfa GTV in alloy from scratch for himself. He had a Healey 3000s and he built another Healey alongside it in alloy.

'We have a list in our heads of the next cars we want to do. They include a V70R Volvo and a 1910 single-cylinder motorcycle that we found in a hedge…'

Paul Cowland on the favourite cars

'It’s really hard to pick a favourite car from the series, because the producers let us choose what we want. The MkI Golf GTI from the first episode is really nice though, that’s probably my favourite. It had been modified in period so the wheels were a bit too wide, the exhaust a bit dubious, the stereo a bit dubious – all those things that we all did.

'Now we’re a bit older and wiser it’s good to put these cars back to how they should be, though we’re not against a bit of customisation – but it’s got to be period, either what the manufacturer was doing or what the best modifiers were doing. We stuck the Golf on Pirelli P-slot alloys. I know it should have Tarantulas but we like P-slots more.

'There’s also an Elan Plus 2 in the first episode. That’s another great car, and I like it because I don’t fit in the original Elan. It was a bit scruffy but the owner had done all the clever stuff, replaced the doughnuts [driveshaft couplings] with UJs, all that kind of thing. You’ll see tonight that it drove brilliantly.

'We changed the colour of the Elan. Drew has such a good eye for colour, he’s very visually led. Anyway, you’ll see how it turned out. It sold very quickly.

'Another one of my favourites was the Jaguar Mk2. It was rust-free, never restored, never welded. It was bought new by the owner of Brutus Jeans in the 1960s, but the year after he bought it he moved to America, and shipped the car out. So it spent its life as a British-spec car in California, and only came back six months ago.

'Drew suggested we give it a Coombs-type treatment so we added bonnet louvres but we also fitted it with D-type wheels, which a Coombs never had. It’s a cocktail of styles from the 1960s.

'Nine times out of ten, Drew is right but I think he was wrong about the Mercedes 350 SLC. It was gold, the wrong shade of gold, when we bought it, and bearing that in mind we discussed changing the colour. But he just wanted it gold. He thought it was cool, 1970s chic. I won’t say any more… but that’s the one car that we’re left with. It hasn’t sold.

'What’s nice is that even though we’ve stopped filming for now, we’re still doing it anyway – we’ve just bought a super-level Peugeot 205GTI. It wasn’t cheap, we paid nearly £10,000, but when you look at what they’re selling for now, that’s just the way it is.

'Everything that happens in the show continues now. We’re just finishing Drew’s ’64 VW Samba. His attention to detail is ridiculous. He’s incredibly knowledgeable, I’m learning stuff from him. And anything that’s aircooled, German and old, he’s all over it…'

Salvage Hunters: Classic Cars airs on Quest.

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