July 28, 2020
We love introducing friends of ours because their what makes this brand special. We wouldn't be here without them. On that note, you've probably seen our friend Philip Henry's cars on our Instagram feed. He's quite the mechanic and has a special gift for restoring wonder to vintage machines: boats, motorcycles, cars, and more.
How did you get into the mechanical and restoration world?
I was a Lego kid, through and through. I bought my first car, a Subaru, after the family minivan bit the dust. It needed work so I got it for a steal and said to myself, "How bad could it be?" I've been snowballing with a wrench in my hand ever since. I've changed my focus to more vintage projects because there's something so satisfying about keeping older tech alive. Most of the character and individuality of design these days has been lost.
What came first: boats, cars, motorcycles?
I've held many odd jobs. It's blended together now and I just see a motor, an electrical system, etc. but it began with that first Subaru and it took awhile to realize I could do more. I then worked as a professional marine mechanic on Lake Dillon, CO for a few years, which was what made me fall in love with the boating world next. I've only found motorcycles to be a recent passion, thanks to a good buddy, but that has quickly grown.
What's your dream restoration project?
It's so nuts that I get to say this, but I already have it! Ever since I was little, I'd look at this one picture of my father, younger than me now, washing his white 1976 MGB roadster. I'd always tell him how I wanted one and he'd respond with something like, "You're crazy! I was always fixing mine!" There's just something about the charm of an MGB. They're not the most expensive vintage sports cars, but, boy, do they have character. It's been my dream car my whole life, and I finally bit the bullet.
It must be a good feeling to restore a vehicle and take it for a drive, do you have any favorite roads you love driving through? Favorite places to sail the boats you've worked on?
Tightening that last bolt, hopping in and turning the key makes this ridiculous grin come to my face. Amazing canyon roads are abundant up in Evergreen, Morrison, Golden and Boulder, CO. One of my frequented routes is Golden Gate Canyon, but I'll have to keep my favorite spot a secret since it never has traffic. I think anywhere you give me wind and water, it's freeing. Lake Dillon was a magical (and challenging) place to learn, being the highest elevation deep-water reservoir in the world. Sailing has taken me all over the US so far and hopefully internationally soon.
Any advice for people looking to start a restoration project?
Read. Learn. Read some more. But once you start getting your hands dirty, experience will be the best teacher. I still learn new things that can be applied to anything I take on.
Don't over-tighten a bolt because you'll either break it and swear at yourself or the next guy to touch it is going to be swearing at you.
Finally, have patience and be kind to yourself. It's a lot of hard work and It'll help you be proud of the finished product.
My childhood was full of dreams about cool cars and motorcycles and boats. Thinking about how I'd like to own one of those some day. When you think of "restoring wonder" in your own life, do you see any crossover into your world of working on vehicles?
I always wanted to be like Calvin with Hobbes or Tom Sawyer with a slingshot in my back pocket. I'd bomb around the neighborhood on my big wheel, BMX bicycle or anything else I could get my hands on. I still look at life with a childlike wonder and the reward of restoring something so fun makes it not feel like work at the end of the day.
What sort of design language speaks to you? You seem to have a love for British design.
I gravitate toward design that is functional yet fun. Older British cars are so unique with their lines and silhouettes, whether sleek like the MG or rugged like my trusty old Land Rover. Show me anything made with attention and care though and I'm bound to appreciate it more.
Give Philip Henry a follow on Instagram at: @philuphenry