Stephen Bell was recently contacted by the owner of this P400S following some conversations they had conducted recently to assess the extent of a restoration. After hearing of us through a couple of different sources, and seeing our recent work being displayed at events around the nation, the owner confided in Stephen that another restorer he had discussed the project with would be unable to fulfill his requirements. Following a series of discussions, the owner decided to ship the car to our facility in Englewood, CO to make a thorough assessment of the car and the workmanship in an effort to shed some light on this project.
The body of the car came out of the transport on a dolly and dozens of boxes filled with parts soon followed. We made arrangements to begin the long and detailed process of a careful analysis of all parts; sorting them into groups, separating ones that did not belong, inventorying based on official Lamborghini documents, and a detailed evaluation of condition and finish. Over the course of a week, parts had been safely and neatly relocated to shelves and bins with lists of all discrepancies ready for review by the owner.
Of course, our lead tech and metal fabricator began their assessment of the chassis and bodywork simultaneously. While some previous metal work had been done to a high standard, it was noted that many replacement panels had been oriented incorrectly and unnecessary braces had been added that weren’t original. It appeared as if the car had at some point been mounted incorrectly to a rotisserie (which slightly distorted it) resulting in a poor panel fit.
First things first… The chassis had to be aligned immediately! Carefully, the car was mounted on solid stands and all measurements were taken from datum points listed on Lamborghini’s original chassis specification diagrams. Results indicated that the car was out of spec and a plan was made for correcting it. The engine, which had been brought in on a cart, was reinstalled in order to place as much static weight into the car as possible. We also added 300lbs of ballast toward the front of the car and it was then left to sit for several days as the chassis slowly relaxed back into place. Suspension was installed to provide measurements.
Once we were certain that the car was straight, the real work could begin. Our metal fabricator began removing panels and reinstalling them correctly, correcting non-original additions, correcting small defects and perfecting all gaps. It was discovered that there was a large amount of body filler hidden under the epoxy coat – In some places, it was built up to 3/8″ of an inch! Nearing the conclusion of our metal work, the car has been “dry-fit” with all parts that come into contact with the body. This process allows us to make minor adjustments for a perfect fit, and the process will be done again before paint, after the body has been massaged and deemed to meet our demanding expectations.
On the parts end, we are now ready to begin disassembling small components; creating discrepancy sheets, plating and refinishing notes and ordering any and all parts that will be needed throughout the restoration. We were graced recently with the presence of a man who has proven himself to the Lamborghini world over the past 50+ years – a former test driver for the factory, and current restorer, Mr. Valentino Balboni came to our shop and we spent the day reviewing every aspect of this car (which he more than likely tested on the track in Sant’Agata Bologonese 48 years ago!) from the body work and engine, to completeness and finishes. We were rewarded with his surprise at how complete and original this car actually is – great news for us as we continue on the long road to perfection. He was also impressed with our attention to detail and level of organization. As a consultant, restorer and overall remarkable individual, Mr. Balboni is without peer. He has provided invaluable information that will benefit us (and our client) throughout the process and, for that matter, the life of the car.
The engine has been torn down and assessed for damage. At some point in the past, the engine had been disassembled and, for unknown reasons, individual parts had been replaced without a complete overhaul. Our resident Italian expert has identified areas that the engine was out-of-spec, or items that were clearly damaged and we have created a plan and parts order to deal with this. Once machine work is complete, he will begin the painstaking process of assembling this unique “married” unit of engine and gearbox.
All of the original hardware for the car and all of it’s sub-assemblies has been identified, inventoried, processed and prepped, and is now undergoing the transformative process of re-plating for a brand new appearance. While this is a difficult and time intensive process, the client is rewarded with a car which is as original as possible. Only where needed, is hardware replaced with new – seat belts, for example require this for safety considerations. Some large components of the suspension are currently being powder-coated in the correct semi-gloss black, and removable parts of the chassis and body have been prepped and are being covered with a high-quality satin paint that we have used on many previous cars with exceptional results. Powder coating, where practical, is a wonderful choice for restoration. Now being available in a broad range of colors and finishes, the durability is much superior to paint and it remains a cost-effective option for restoration. All of the small electric motors throughout the car (starter, alternator, fan motors, headlamp motors, wiper motor, window motors) have been tested, repaired and refreshed and will soon be sitting on the shelf, ready to reunite with the car.
Plating and powder coated parts have returned; it is now time to begin the assembly and testing of small components on the bench. Already, many of these components have been serviced/rebuilt and detailed. Metal working is nearly complete and the exterior will be sealed, smoothed and primed before its final mirror-finish, soon to be decided, original color. We will shortly be receiving samples of original style hides, carpet and vinyls to have the interior completely restored. This car’s interior featured many French seams which are complicated to reproduce, but our award winning trimmer is up to task and every stitch of the new interior will be done in the original style. Keep checking back for the latest on this exciting GT.