Renaissance BN7 at Goodwood
I am on a train in northern Italy, just about to pass through the ancient town of Brescia…. Memories of the gathering for the Mille Miglia come flooding back when I played a concert there last year; quite a sight, amazing sounds and that evocative smell of hot engine, oil and rich exhaust! Incidentally Brescia has one of the oldest theatres in Europe…. Well I’m on tour giving concerts at various summer festivals, an annual event. Usually it means I don’t get the opportunity to go to Goodwood, but this year I have a day off!
A few weeks ago Andrew announced that he wanted to show my Healey at the Revival… Would I mind?
Sofia is a late 3000 MKll BN7 bought in pieces on my daughter Sophie’s birthday a few years back. The BN7 is a rare beast indeed and the car has benefitted incredibly from Rawles Motorsport’s reknowned skills and experience; She now looks incredible having finished the body restoration!
Naturally the answer was YES to Goodwood! It has been fascinating to watch the painstaking progress of Sofia through the different stages in the workshop, and a great privilege to have her representing some of the great work of Rawles Motorsport.
Now stay with me here; last year I got a call from Andrew asking whether I would join him on a visit to John Chatham. Knowing my life long interest in all things Healey, it was time to see and test John’s aluminium 3000 engine block and meet the man himself. It was a fascinating day, not only trying the engine, seeing his workshop, but also going for a pub lunch with John.
I am reminded of that lunch, traveling across Italy going through towns that in the past were the center of instrument making in the 16th and 17th centuries! What on earth is he on about now, you’re asking yourselves?
Well…. Yes I’m a classical musician, a viola player. This is not only my profession, it is a central part of my life, has been since childhood. I have a passion for instruments, particularly from Italy from the Renaissance period. Back to lunch with John and Andrew… As a teenager I met some of the great characters of the Austin Healey world… Pat Moss and Syd Segal made quite an impression on me; it was really special to talk about them and other Healey personalities and to get John talking about his life and experiences! Also fascinating was his interest in what I do, and my passion for ancient Renaissance instruments.
This incredible period of reinvention of the arts and sciences produced some most extraordinary results, not only in science and art forms, literature, music, architecture and innovative design but also in the development of musical instruments. Especially the viola, and various alto/tenor pitched instruments designed for sacred church music. These great instruments were not made to glorify the Luthier or maker, but for the glory of the music they were designed for. A humbling thought…. Now, hundreds of years later, it can be very difficult to identify the maker, as very few were labeled, signed or dated.
The ethos of process and progress of rebirth of an Austin Healey is what Andrew’s team is all about. The dedication to detail and the feeling they want the best for the car itself produces a very special result. I don’t think I’m alone amongst their clients in being so proud of their work!
I am nearing the end of my journey to Turin today, Italian lakes at the weekend… Hmmmm…With that Bella Carrozzeria e Veniciatura (beautiful body and paintwork), BN7 at Villa D’Este Concorso D’Eleganza next year?
Now there’s a thought Andrew!!!