Our standards must and will satisfy you. We will recommend the procedures and methods appropriate for restoring your British or Special Interest automobile to meet your specific needs. You can be assured that the entire project will be accomplished with full attention to the details you can't see, as well as the finish you can see.
We know that your British or Special Interest automobile is important to you. Whether you are the new or a long-term owner of your Special Interest automobile, you treat your car with utmost care and attention. When you entrust that car to a repair and restoration specialist, you want and expect them to give your car the same careful treatment as you would give it.
The older Special Interest automobile presents its own situations in servicing and parts sourcing that the mainstream service mechanic has difficulty addressing. As a service customer, you can be assured that we have the experience and knowledge to anticipate and care for the needs of your special car.
When restoration time comes, it is very important that the needs of the car and owner are met. You can be confident that Ragtops & Roadsters will guide you through the maze of concerns and considerations which arise during a restoration project. We work with you to achieve a standard within your budget requirements. From driver to Concours winner, we can help you achieve the restoration standard you desire.
We believe in and stand by the service we supply. That belief is reflected in our customers' enjoyment of their cars. Read the comments of some of our satisfied customers, or better yet, drop in to the shop, telephone, or e-mail us to review your needs.
A restoration shop is not your average auto repair garage. Restorations usually involve the entire car while repair work can be a single item. Most gas stations and body shops would turn away the kind of work that is done here. The mere mention of British automobiles makes the local garage uncomfortable.
Because of our years of experience with British cars we are familiar with the construction methods used in these automobiles. Our technicians worked on these vehicles for years, they research assembly methods, communicate with other knowledgeable individuals, and participate in club events and shows. Vehicles from our shop have won numerous awards, ranging from ribbons and plaques at small local shows to top awards at the national level.
Most cars destined for restoration are at least 30 years old. The first step in a repair or restoration is to determine what the problems are and what will be necessary to correct them. Any deterioration and damage that your classic car has should be dealt with first, and in an original manner, before modifications and appearance are considered. We may often find things that you don't want to know about your car, but you should be prepared for.
Next we give you options for the levels of restoration possible and their approximate costs so that you can make an informed decision.
We try to make the final product as close to original as possible within the boundaries of time, money and practicality. These boundaries are at the wish of the customer.
One reason for originality; the factory had many skilled people put a lot of time, money and effort into the design of these cars. Ultimately, from the collector's point of view as well as durability, this is the best approach. We can, of course, make changes, updates, and modifications at the owners request, but as a small restoration shop we can't duplicate the testing facilities of the manufacturers.
The most necessary, but least maintained, component on an automobile is the body structure itself. Like the foundation of a house, the body and frame hold the other subsystems together and in the proper relationship to each other.
With a house, you can paint the outside, or renovate the kitchen, but if the foundation is cracking, and the basement is leaking water, the improvements are only superficial. Sooner or later, the basic structure must be dealt with.
Unfortunately, many owners think they can wait until later, letting the deterioration continue. Then they have to sell the house, and foist the problems off on someone else.
Much like a house, a classic automobile, if it is to last for many years, must be maintained. Sure, if you want, you can throw a coat of paint on it, and dump the car on some unsuspecting individual, but if you expect to keep it, or to get the best price when you sell it, the foundation must be in good condition.
Do you often wonder how those squeaks and rattles develop? The body integrity, and its mounting to the chassis, determine how solid and sound proof the vehicle is. Many owners change their own oil, but how many people remove the seats and carpets to inspect the floorboards every year?
The front suspension can be rebuilt, but if the body mounts are worn or missing, the handling cannot improve very much. The squeak in the dash may never go away until welds, broken long ago, are repaired.
Most people, driving mediocre cars, never have to deal with the basic body and frame. They just send the heap to the junk yard.
Located in Perkasie, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, our main shop was built in the early 1920's for Branch Moving & Storage. The building has been used as a hosiery mill, carpet store and furniture repair shop. In the 1970's it housed a slot car track and for 25 years was the home of Dudley Baseballs, the maker of the official baseballs of the American and National Leagues. It was also home to an automobile dealership in the 1950's.
The 6,000 square foot, two-story, secured building houses all the equipment necessary to care for your automobile. We also have access to a separate building for paint and bodywork, as well as four separate storage buildings.
Ragtops & Roadsters was founded in 1990 when Michael Engard struck out on his own with 20 years experience in British automobile restoration and service. An avid British automobile enthusiast himself, he understands the concerns of the Special Interest car owner. Michael has been working on British cars since he got his first TR-3 in 1974. He has worked at many of the area shops since then before starting Ragtops & Roadsters. He currently owns three British cars, a 1970 Rover 3500S, a 1954 Triumph TR2 and a Triumph Italia 2000 GT that will be raced in vintage events.
Our carefully chosen staff has an appreciation for the cars and understands what these cars mean to their owners. Their combined experience in British and Special Interest automobiles is over 135 years. They are heavily involved in the British car community as participants and officers in various area Clubs.
Rick Brodeur's training is as an electrical engineer, but he has long been involved in British cars as a hobby. His experience as a project manager has proven a great asset in his current position as Shop Manager. He is active in the Austin Healey Sports and Touring Club and currently owns an MG Midget, an Austin Healey Sprite and an Austin Healey 3000.
Dave is Ragtops & Roadsters' Operations Manager. He handles our marketing, advertising, building maintenance, and coordinates the workflow within our buildings. He is part of our team representing Ragtops & Roadsters at Concours and car shows during the summer and is likely the person you will first speak to when you call our shop. He is a long time British car enthusiast with a 1961 Triumph Italia (restored here in 1995) and a 1967 MGBGT. Dave is actively involved in The Vintage Triumph Register as well as the local chapter of the Delaware Valley Triumphs.
Dorian Custodia, my first employee, is a master fabricator 'panel-beater' who has been here since 1991. He came to the shop looking for TR-7 parts and I offered him a job. He does our metal work, straightening and welding and is capable of creating any body panel that can't be repaired. Dorian amassed experience from inside and outside the shop; working on both British and American automobiles. Dorian is mostly self-taught and learned some advanced metal working techniques from Kent White of TM Technologies. Dorian's 1967 Jaguar 420 is awaiting slight modifications and rust repairs, he also owns numerous Triumphs including a convertible GT-6 with a 5-speed gearbox and suspension modifications.
Bill Dittrich had worked for Dick Stockton in Willow Grove for 17 years. Many of you know Dick as the owner of one of the best British car shops in the area. When Dick retired in 1996 I contacted Bill about his plans and he agreed to come and work at Ragtops & Roadsters. Bill brings more than 20 years of automotive experience with him and he currently owns a 1980 Tr8, a 1974 MGB and a 1977 Spitfire.
Chris Engard's first car was a Morris Mini and he drove a TR-3A in Highschool. An MG1100 provided transportation during college and he purchased a new 1979 MGB while in the Navy. After 30 years in the building and machine maintenence industry he has come back to the automotive industry. He is married with two boys, still has his 1979 MGB and now drives a MINI Cooper.
Jim Rinehimer joined our team in April 2004 as our parts manager, and has over twenty five years of experience in the automotive industry at both the dealership and aftermarket level. Jim's varied background includes having owned and operated his own parts store for over 15 years. His early driving experiences behind the wheel of a TR4 left him with many fond memories of romance and love of British automobiles.
Matt Slifer brought us his 1976 Spitfire in 1994 to be repaired and asked for a job. He worked summers and evenings until he graduated from high school in 1996 and was a valued apprentice mechanic since. He left us for a while to pursue other challenges but has returned as an experienced restoration mechanic. He currently coordinates the efforts of our restoration team.
In October of 1997 we lost one of our more valuable people to cancer. George Melick came to the shop in the spring of 1994 because he wanted to work on British cars, especially the MGs that he had been involved with his entire adult life. He wanted to work one or two days a week, but he saw how the business was growing and he ended up working almost full time for two years. He was willing to work on any car, but what he enjoyed most was working with the MGs. His knowledge was encyclopedic and anything he wasn't sure about he would find in his large collection of old car magazines . His last major job with us was John and Darley Hobbis' 1950 MG-TD, and he created an excellent example with his attention to detail and great care in assembly. The way he fretted over that car you would have thought it was his own. That's how he was about all the cars he worked on and that's what made George a special person.
Michael Engard fixes toys. But don't take him your limping Barbies, frozen Lionel engines or rusted Flexible Flyers. Engard, 41, specializes in aging Jaguars, Triumphs, MGs and Land Rovers, cars which were on the road in Britain before the Beatles. "It's a luxury market," he explained from his 10-man shop in Perkasie recently. "This is discretionary cash for a lot of these people. It's a toy for many." Customers at Ragtops & Roadsters, which Engard opened in 1990, are willing to pay up to $150,000 and wait three years for their repairs, he said. Doing everything from a tune-up to a complete restoration of a pre-World War II car, the company's sales have grown steadily since the beginning... More...