When anyone launches a new business, the potential for things to go wrong is up there with cliff diving – into shark-infested waters. Now the first preview clip of the new TV show Richard Hammond’s Workshop suggests that for one of the world’s best-known petrolheads and television presenters, launching a classic car business is a bumpy ride.
“I’ve been around cars my whole working life,” says Hammond in the narration. “I love cars – always have. Now I’m taking my obsession to another level. I’m starting a classic car restoration workshop. I’m gambling my reputation, my relationship and my cash on the new business.”
What the preview doesn’t tell viewers is that Hammond is investing a small fortune in his own classic car restoration business.
After putting up an initial £250,000, the ambition of the project grew and he soon found himself in need of further funds to make a success of things.
That called for tough decisions. Hammond sold off some of his cherished car and motorcycle collection, raising nearly a quarter of a million pounds in the process, with most of it going toward workshop tools and equipment such as paint and preparation booths for the restoration of a car’s panels and bodyshell.
When Hagerty toured the new workshop with Hammond, he joked that the dust collection booth was “the Porsche 911 T I sold,” and the painting booth “the Lotus Esprit”.
The craftspeople behind The Smallest Cog are Neil and Antony Greenhouse, the father and son team who have restored cars for Hammond in the past, including a Jaguar XK150. “We’ve got to make him see it’s not a game,” observes Neil Greenhouse.
“I don’t like it in the real world! I’ve had a lovely time in the TV world,” jokes Hammond. “This could easily run away from me – this could easily turn out to be a very expensive folly that I regret.”
Finding out how the Greenhouse team give Hammond a reality check – and how they convinced the former Top Gear and Grand Tour star to commit to investing in a new premises and equipment and immersing himself in the classic car scene – will have to wait for the series to air on TV.
Hammond has been motivated by his grandfather, a craftsman by trade, telling Hagerty: “My mum’s dad, Leslie Dunsby, was a coachbuilder at Mulliner’s at Birmingham, and then he finished up at Jensen. He was a senior inspector there, and the Jensen we’re restoring would have been signed-off by him.” The Jensen in question is an Interceptor once owned by Sir Alastair Pilkington, of Pilkington Glass fame.
Richard Hammond’s Workshop will be shown on Discovery+, with the first episode of season one airing on Monday, 18 October. A further five episodes will follow, and if enough petrolheads enjoy following Hammond and family and friends on the journey, season two will soon be in the making.
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