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“It’s a 1956 Mercedes Gullwing. We’re looking for someone to buy it, and we’ll work with them to restore it. The price? A not insignificant £1.7million.

It’s hard not to cringe when such sums are casually mentioned, but it’s clear from looking around that the cars on display in the UK’s newest (and possibly top-end) showroom Uni are quite special. The building is owned by Hilton & Moss, part of the Hilton Group, a company that has the UK’s largest insurance approved accident repair business, and Lotus and TVR specialist Castle Sportscars among its range .

Jack Nicholls, Head of Marketing at Hilton & Moss, says the prices on windshields from the showroom’s fleet of classic and exotic models are a price worth paying, adding: “We are the Rolls- Royce and the Bentley of automotive restoration”. And a quick scan around his brand new £8million facility and the cars within shows his claims hold water. In addition to the Gullwing, the showroom has several Mercedes 190 SLs, Jaguar XK120s, an Austin Healey, an Aston Martin and even a Triumph Stag.

The gleaming purple stag is of particular significance, as it is the first car company boss Peter Hilton has ever restored. It wasn’t the first model he repaired, however. It was in 1984 in his parents’ garage. From his base in Bishop’s Stortford, Herts, Peter’s empire has grown since then, and the latest addition, a brand new 75,000 square foot showroom, workshop and warehouse, is testament to the work he and his team are able to do. Do.

This facility spans three floors. The first two floors display Hilton & Moss stock, as well as part of Peter’s private collection – which includes this deer, a car that has far too much sentimental value to be offered for sale – plus a workshop of two floors.

The third floor can store up to 300 cars and is temperature and humidity controlled. A short walk reveals the eclectic tastes of its customers. A Lotus Esprit Series 1 alongside a Ford Escort Mk1. There’s a Lotus Elise, while a yellow Lancia Delta Integrale Giallo Ginestra lights up another bend. A few meters away is a partially dismantled Porsche 911, while opposite is a Rover P4 that looks like it came straight out of a barn.

Nicholls says the storage side of the business is more like a concierge service, where owners could, in theory, call on a Friday morning, request their car be prepared for a weekend, and return it at the end of their travel. “We can deliver cars to customers or take them wherever they want – the Mille Miglia, anything is possible. We can also pick up customers at the airport if they prefer,” he adds.

“If there is damage, we can fix it. Customers come here because of the service we can provide,” says Nicholls. The workshop team have a combined 100 years of classic car restoration experience, and concours quality paintwork is achieved using both modern water-based paint and the same type of dual-finish. components and cellulose that most cars would have received at the time. . With over 10,000 ‘regular’ cars receiving attention after crashes each year, it’s easy to understand the obsession with impeccable bodywork, but the 30 workshop bays mean the restoration business can also get involved. take care of mechanical overhauls.

It’s this level of detail that has made Hilton & Moss’ restored classics regular fixtures at some of the world’s most prestigious events. A Mercedes 190 SL owned by David Gandy recently won silverware at the London Concours. This was alongside another 190 SL owned by former Formula 1 driver Max Chilton, and a third once owned by Ringo Starr.

Despite the significant investment in installation and the amazing quality of the company’s work, you can expect labor rates to reach several hundred pounds per hour. That’s not the case, says Nicholls. “Our restoration rates are £95 per hour,” he says. “You might find an Audi dealer down the road who charge £150 an hour.” Likewise, storage rates aren’t eye-popping either, starting at £50 a week, although that depends on the value of the car and the level of service you’re looking for. At the extreme, the company can look after and manage entire car collections.

Nicholls describes the new facility as a destination, and for well-heeled classic car enthusiasts, it’s very hard to argue. As for the rest of us? Well, it’s hard not to be tempted by a better-than-new classic, isn’t it?

Click here for our list of the best future classics…

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