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Mark Nugent – Coachbuilder and Restorer of Vintage and Classic Car Bodies

The art of coachbuilding goes back hundreds of years and appears to have originated in Europe when the first wooden carriage body was constructed. After the appearance of the automobile, the “carriage trade” first crafted wooden bodies for the earliest cars and later developed methods and skills to cover a wooden framework with sheet metal.

To show our readers a little of the work involved in this craft, Mark Nugent, an expert coachbuilder from Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia has supplied us with photos of a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, an SS Mercedes, Bentley and a Gull Wing Mercedes for which he has fabricated new bodies.

Two English wheels are used by the shop for most of it’s metal shaping needs. The wooden boxes seen on each, carry lower wheels of different radii and shape for different metal shaping needs

Mark has been in the business for a number of years. He served an apprenticeship in Australia for a company that made Aston Martin and Jaguar bodies and was taught by two very skilled older Spanish men that worked there. He followed up with three years of further work with several expert coachbuilders in England.

Upon his return home, he established his own business and has since been fabricating and restoring a wide array of bodies for antique, vintage and classic road going and racing automobiles along with some vintage aircraft. To learn more, follow the photos and captions below which show some of the coachbuilder’s work in process.

One other metal shaping aid that also sees duty in the shop is a hollowed out old timber and a hammer. Both are traditional metal shaping tools.

A new wooden framework for a Silver Ghost touring car body is seen here. Most traditional style early coachwork starts with a wooden frame. 

              

L to R: Fitting door trim, the shifter and hand brake cover on the Martin and King (Melbourne, Australia) bodied Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. 

              

L to R: Inside view of the shifter and brake lever, overall view of the body and fenders. The fasteners seen holding the hood together are temporary Cleco fasteners. Lastly, a complete new gas tank fabricated for an early car.

              

L to R: New coachwork and fenders for an SS Mercedes, a Bentley Mk.V with custom coachwork in process, wooden bucks constructed as a guide for the fenders during the metal shaping process.

              

L to R: The first section of the fender offered up to the buck to check progress,  fender pieces close to finish shaping, sodium fluoride powder being mixed into a paste for traditional style oxy-acetylene welding flux.

              

L to R: Close fitting fender seam being tack welded,  front section of fender fitted and tack welded together and being checked on the buck before final welding.

A W194 Mercedes Gullwing racing car body which the shop fabricated can be seen below. To learn and see more visit www.marknugent.com.au

 

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10 Responses to Mark Nugent – Coachbuilder and Restorer of Vintage and Classic Car Bodies

  1. DennisM says:

    Very impressive! I have always been of the opinion that handcrafting metal bodywork fell more into the realm of art and sculpture than anywhere else. Certainly much more of craft than the kind of work some of us have done with a body hammer and a dolly, or a torch and a lead paddle!

  2. Posted for Martin: That is truly outstanding. Going through the gallery on Mr Nugent’s site left me in awe of his skills.
    The rear 3/4 picture of the gullwing with the doors propped open makes me wish I had the means to commission such a project. I love new technology, but that sort of talent and workmanship is hard to ignore. Does anyone here have a concept if that would represent 1,000 or 10,000 hours of coach building, once a set of plans were drawn and the wooden bucks created? My assumption is that an existing car would be scanned or templated, and all of the station frames lofted (or whatever the correct terminology would be) using modern CAD/CAM and CNCs. I’d love to have a sense of the labour component from there for an experienced sheet metal craftsman to fabricate the body shell, as I’m clueless. Any idea?

  3. Aburn Seeker says:

    Impressive. The best I can do is straighten and polish stainless steel trim.

  4. Bob Renz says:

    Beautiful workmanship. People don’t remember that back before electric welding processes (like TIG with high frequency) were developed that could handle aluminum, gas welding was the only process that there was, and a lot of aluminum was gas welded.

  5. Martin says:

    That is truly outstanding. Going through the gallery on Mr Nugent’s site left me in awe of his skills.
    The rear 3/4 picture of the gullwing with the doors propped open makes me wish I had the means to commission such a project. I love new technology, but that sort of talent and workmanship is hard to ignore. Does anyone here have a concept if that would represent 1,000 or 10,000 hours of coach building, once a set of plans were drawn and the wooden bucks created? My assumption is that an existing car would be scanned or templated, and all of the station frames lofted (or whatever the correct terminology would be) using modern CAD/CAM and CNCs. I’d love to have a sense of the labour component from there for an experienced sheet metal craftsman to fabricate the body shell, as I’m clueless. Any idea?

    • Mark Nugent says:

      Hi Martin, this car was quite a big build. Roughly five thousand hours went into the body construction. We had access to body drawings to create this one, which we could not have done with out. Though we do use CAD on some cars and aircraft components, there was no CAD on this one just traditional measuring and scaling of plans and profiles.

  6. Lee says:

    The English Wheel is incredibly simple…and it takes years to learn how to use it.

  7. reuben galea says:

    your work is incredible .i m a maltese panelbeater,you are great ,wished that you are of reach so that i ll be a student of yours.thanks for sharing your photos

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