UK-based newspaper features vintage car restorer in Clark
CLARK FREEPORT— A locator inside this Freeport was recently featured for Filipino craftsmanship in restoring vintage cars in one of the leading publications in the United Kingdom.
Byrnes Motor Trust (BMT), which restores vintage cars from other countries, was featured in The Telegraph publication based in UK.
The Telegraph was founded by Lt. Colonel Arthur Sleigh on June 29, 1855 and edited by Alfred Richards.
The newspaper was a four-page broadsheet and cost two pence until it became one of the famous publications in UK today.
At present, The Telegraph has its own website and television network, all based in UK.
The BMT story, written by Paul Hudson and published on October 4, was about the restoration of vintage or classic cars in Clark where cars are mostly European made.
“Where in the world can you find more than 200 people working in one classic car restoration complex – with vast hangar-like halls for bodywork, for Jaguar, for Rolls-Royce and Mercedes, for future projects and more?”
“Surprisingly, the answer is not the United States, UK, Australia or anywhere in Europe – it’s the Philippines, on the former US airbase that is now Clark Freeport Zone,” the newspaper said.
BMT owner Jim Byrnes established his firm in 2010 with 35 cars to restore but grew to 400 in the next two years, The Telegraph said.
Byrnes told The Telegraph that “seven to 10 years ago it was not economically viable to restore most E-types, due to the cost of the parts and the small matter of 3,000 hours of work.”
With labor rates of up to £100 per hour in the UK and most of Europe, and not much less in the US, five years ago a car bought for £25,000 would cost about £225,000 to restore, he says – but it would only sell for £125,000.
“(But) with Clark (being) a tax-free zone, so I can import cars, restore and (re)export them without paying taxes. I only pay tax on profit made restoring them. The economy and tax advantages in the Philippines allow me to turn commercially unviable projects into very profitable ones,” he told The Telegraph.
Byrnes also decided to locate in Clark because workers are skilled and dedicated, “but labor rates are a fraction of those in the world’s main centers of classic car enthusiasm,” said Byrnes in the newspaper.
Byrnes also told the newspaper that “the (Filipino) workers have a real passion and attention to detail. There’s a worldwide shortage of good metalworkers and the locals are incredible. We’ve got 45 female workers, too, from mechanics to metalworkers.”
“In the US, many restorers compromise restorations because of labor costs – that’s not an issue here (referring to Clark). Of course, we have to do a fair amount of training to hone their skills – all are self-taught or have learnt from their fathers or relatives,” he added.
Englishman Michael Harrison said: “I’ve been at BMT for 21 months and love it. I started out running body prep, now I’m special projects manager. To put out a quality product takes a lot of background effort.”
Paint shop manager Carl Holland brought almost 30 years’ experience from the UK, where he worked on custom cars as well as conventional paintwork.
“I’ve been here a year. It’s different, fast. It’s great that they give women the chance to work here (in Clark), too; they have real attention to detail,” Holland said in the newspaper and giving credit to the Filipino women skills in painting works.