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Attention to Detail

 

The restored Lotus Esprit in all its glory Upholstery by N. Fulcher, Coachtrimmer

A Hethersett man’s attention to detail has brought him into contact with some of the world’s most historic vehicles. 

Hidden away in the heart of the village in New Road is the workshop of Nick Fulcher Coachtrimmer. 

Behind closed doors Nick and his son Stephen have built up an extraordinary reputation for being able to return historic but neglected vehicles back to their prime. 

Over the past few weeks the father and son duo have been restoring the fabric of a 30-year-old Lotus Esprit Series One. 

The vehicle has come to them from an Aberystwyth businessman who is also a Lotus enthusiast. The car has been virtually re-built and brought all the way from Wales to Norfolk to have the original upholstery re-installed. 

When Nick talks about the original upholstery that is exactly what he means. Over the years he has kept back rolls of carpet and other material from the original Lotus cars believing that some day they would “come in useful.”  

The work has given Nick the chance to renew his love affair with the car, having worked alongside legendary Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro on the original Esprit prototype. 

“I had all the templates and the original materials that I worked on with Giugiaro at the Ital Design company in Turin. I have kept the tartan cloth and carpet for 30 years certain that one day people would want to restore these vehicles.” 

“This one was in a very poor condition. Much of the material was either ripped or faded and it had been very badly abused. Thankfully it fell into the hands of an enthusiast in businessman Wyn Edwards and he has had it lovingly restored to its former glory,” Nick said. 

“Mr Edwards found us on the Internet and I was very happy to renew my 30 year association with the Esprit. I had the Norfolk sense over the years to horde material and this is now paying dividends.” 

There are very few of the original Lotus Esprits still around, but Nick has already got four more lined-up to rejuvenate. 

In the early days of Lotus production Nick worked at Pinewood Studios on the set of the 1977 James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me, providing the interiors for the famous Bond Lotus: “I remember that we had to change the head rests in that car because the tartan clashed with Roger Moore’s complexion,” Nick joked. 

Over the years Nick has also been closely involved with the livery of Lotus’ Formula One Cars. 

“I have worked with and been fortunate to know many of the great drivers such as Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen  and Jochen Rindt. One of my most interesting jobs was putting a set of headphones into Graham Hill’s helmet so that he could talk to the pits when he came in for re-fuelling. I think it was probably the first time a driver had been able to communicate in this way. Nowadays it is the norm.” 

Nick also worked closely for many years with Lotus boss Colin Chapman and his attention to details was very much valued by the Lotus man. 

“To do this job you have to be a real enthusiast. I get up in the morning and think -great another day. To do this job properly you have to be something of a perfectionist bordering on the fussy. Everything must be done meticulously, even the work that is covered up and won’t be seen. 

“It is very satisfying to think that we have helped to put this car back to its original specification and that another Lotus is back on the road in its former glory.”  

Nick is also a master tailor having started his career with Harry Darby in Norwich and talks with great enthusiasm about his present work on the Lotus even down to using the original 1970s Henry Campbell thread – “a thread that will not fade.” 

Nick and Stephen still do everything by hand as you would expect from master craftsmen. Stephen joined his dad in 1997 after working in the catering trade. There were no concessions from dad, however, as Stephen had to serve his apprenticeship. Today he is as meticulous as his father and Nick will have no concerns about handing the company reins over to him when he eventually decides to retire. 

The Lotus Esprit was due to leave the workshop at the end of last week, but Nick says that he is busier than ever and has a queue of classic cars ready to come in. These include Bentleys, a Maserati Khamsin and one of the most famous cars ever to be produced – the ill fated DeLorean. In the past he has also restored Lamborghinis, Aston Martin DB4s, Austin A90s, Atlantics and Ferraris. 

“I started the business in 1977 and since then we have been constantly flat out,” Nick said. 

But Nick’s business is not just restricted to famous sports cars. He brings the same amount of attention to detail to other areas of work: “People bring us in wallets, handbags, saddles and numerous other items to repair and I have recently restored a genuine Pedigree Pram which had been in a family for many years. Nick has even been known to use his dressmaking skills to make period wedding dresses. 

Nick has a web site where more details of his coachtrimming can be seen at  www.coachtrimmer.co.uk

 

Another shot of the interior

Nick and son Stephen with the Lotus

This article has appeared in the Wymondham and Attleborough Mercury newspaper

© Peter Steward 2006 - Text and photographs may be reproduced with the permission of the author who can be contacted by clicking here.

 

Story Update

DeLorean Comes to Town

The DeLorean car which has been renovated by Nick and Stephen

In January, 2007 Nick and Stephen turned their hands to restoring the fabric of one of the most famous and notorious cars ever produced.

The DeLorean DMC-12 is as famous for the life-style of its owner and its history as for its speed and ability as a car.

Manufactired by the DeLorean motor company from 1981 to 1983, it is known throughout the world for its gull-wing doors and stainless steel body. It was famously featured in the Back to the Future trilogy.

The DMC-12 was the only DeLorean model made. The first prototype appeared in late 1976/early 1977. John DeLorean had previously headed two divisions of General Motors in the USA. After walking out on GM he set up his production plant in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland.

Production of the car, which was designed by Giugiaro, officially began in 1981 and around 8,583 cars were made before production fizzled out in late 1982, with final production taking place in early 1983. Originally it had been planned to build 20,000 cars a year.

In financial difficulties, DeLorian, who was renowned for his playboy lifestyle, appealed to the British Government for help, but this was turned down. At one point DeLorian claimed that he was on an IRA hitlist.

Today it is estimated that about 6,000 DeLoreans are still in existence. Despite being produced in Northern Ireland, DeLoreans were primarily intended for the American market. Therefore, all of the production models were left-hand drive, limiting its popularity in the United Kingdom. Only 23 right-hand drive DeLoreans were ever produced, these cars were converted from left-hand drive models by a specialist British company.

The car Nick and Stephen have been working on is owned by an enthusiast in Hertfordshire. The Hethersett duo have re-moulded much of the plastic inside the car and restored the leather to its former glory.