Oldtimer Studio Restores For The Right Reasons
Photography by Ciprian Mihai
It’s pretty much axiomatic to say that if you’re reading this you like cars, enjoy them more than your neighbor, are dedicated to them in some way. Maybe this extends only as far as saving up the money for your first, or maybe it goes all the way to having completed a restoration; the point is that it doesn’t really matter how much you’ve accomplished already, it’s about the attitude toward it all. Sometimes though, you find a selection of people that have an amount of enthusiasm that belies the kind of track record that leaves others too jaded to enjoy it anymore. Oldtimer Studio, in Bucharest, Romania, is one of these special groups. They simultaneously have the experience of restoring hundreds of cars, and a commitment to the craft that makes them eager for the next one.
Founded in 2002, the Romanian outfit began by restoring their personal classic vehicles and bringing the fruits of their efforts around on the concours circuit. Evidence of the work’s quality shone brightly, and soon the restoration shop was inundated with requests. Offering the gamut of services, Oldtimer Studio commonly sources, appraises, purchases, and, of course, restores customers’ cars. In line with this full-service approach, they are not afraid of working on a wide swath of the vintage car landscape, having completed full restorations on such a variety that allows for Amphicar and Ferrari 250 to be mentioned in the same sentence.
So what is the life of the car that ends up here? Though calling Bucharest a European hub of classic automobiles is stretching it, the majority of metal being transformed in the Studio comes by way of customers in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and elsewhere in Western Europe. Clearly these people have solid options for quality jobs to be done on their cars, so there must be a reason they choose Romania’s largest restoration shop.
Oldtimer Studio consistently churns out high-quality work, whether that be in the form of customer cars or one of their own 150+ projects which they commonly sell through European auction houses at events like Rétromobile. Almost the entire restoration process is undertaken in-house to achieve the appropriately strict quality-control necessary for work at this level; metal bodywork, sandblasting, paint, upholstery, engine, gearbox, electrical wiring, brightwork, pretty much everything, all done by one of the 50+ team members that make up the extensive overall expertise that comes from backgrounds in engineering, welding, painting, electrical, mechanical, you get the idea.
Oldtimer Studio isn’t interested in churning out half-assed restorations of whatever the current ‘it’ car is in the eyes of those who trade in and out in pursuit of a quick payday. That’s not to say they don’t move through a lot of cars though either; the shop regularly has about 25 projects in various stages of completion at any given time, and has finished major (there are no resprays and re-trims and out-the-door cars here) jobs on over 200 cars since 2002.
Also active in Romania’s FIVA (Federation Internationale Vehicules Anciens), this is clearly a place that cares deeply about the preservation of these cars. And when they come out looking like this — either having been saved from the dirt or the wax-and-sell shops — it’s not hard to understand why they feel so passionately about doing their job so well.