Located north of Toronto, in the little farming town of Bradford, is one of the top automotive restoration shops in North America. Perched alongside the longest street in the world. one might wonder if the locals even realize the level of cool they’ve got right under their noses.
The Guild of Automotive Restorers has been known around the world for their old world restoration techniques for decades. While they have built a reputation for building and restoring some of the most significant Bugatti models over the years, the list of projects they have worked on is simply staggering. From the earliest of cars to wood race boats and even a WWII A-26 bomber.
In addition to the full mechanical and body restoration facilities on site, The Guild also has a retail store and museum that is absolutely full of gearheaded goodness. The store features diecast models, stickers, tee shirts, books and all sorts of memorabilia and even a fully restored Cord. I suspect the vehicles on display must rotate to keep things fresh, but the cars on display during this visit are pretty significant and certainly kool.
Walking in the front door, visitors are greeted by the George Barris creation that was the star of the B-movie Supervan. For those who have never had the pleasure, check out the fromage below.
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Originally called the Love Machine when Barris built it in the late Sixties, it became Supervan in the mid Seventies when it was used in the movie Supervan. Over the next couple of decades it was used in a variety of tv shows and movies, including Back to the Future II. It was recently restored by The Guild and was featured on the show Chop, Cut, Rebuild.
Around the corner is a concept car that Volkswagen commissioned in 1970 to depict what the Beetle might look like in the year 2000. It would seem they got it all wrong!
Next up is a futuristic 3 wheeled drag car called Turbo-Sonic that was also built by the legendary Barris. Built in the early Sixties, Turbo-Sonic is powered by a turbine engine that is said to develop 1,000 horsepower and propel the car to 300 mph in the 1/4 mile. Looking more like a fighter jet than a dragster, Turbo-Sonic built for the movie Tom Jones a Go Go and was actually raced after filming. That flick starred Walter Brennan and is so obscure that it isn’t even listed on his imdb page!
The Guild also has a 1986 Sinclair C5, the 3 wheeled electric car that bankrupted British computer pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair. The retail shop shares space with the final prep area of the shop and there are lots of interesting machines in various stages of completion to be seen. While I’m not overly passionate about pre-war cars, I love the 1926 Lancia that is awaiting restoration. Also of note, hiding behind glass doors, is the Bugatti Aerolithe project which is a completely accurate recreation of the 1935 Aerolithe coupe, often called the Electron as it was built of magnesium. David Grainger from The Guild writes about the project in the National Post.
Whether you have a project to restore or are itching to buy an already completed car, The Guild is capable of handling your needs. A visit to the shop just to poke about and soak up the history is worth the drive to Bradford in itself.