The Mongrel in Tennessee: “A Day with Richard Lockhart”
by Ralph Arata
I previously wrote a driveline article on “Garage Tour – Tennessee Style” but this one is a bit different. Since relocating to the Knoxville Tennessee area, Susan and I have joined the Blount British Car Club (BBC) – an active club of 80 members. The club spent a day with Richard Lockhart, owner of English Auto in Knoxville, TN. English Auto conducts full restorations and services for British cars. Richard who has been in business for 20 years bought his first Triumph TR6 as a teenager and fell in love. His company English Auto works on all sorts of classic British cars with many being exotic.
On this cool and clear Tennessee day with temps about 70°F we visited Richard’s shop. The shop is extremely neat, clean and well ordered. Richard does run a tight ship. On this particular day we saw 3 cars of special interest. The first an absolutely flawless black 1953 Jaguar XK 120. As a concourse vehicle, the paint alone was well above my pay grade. Richard said the car could be valued at somewhere in the $120-150k area. He had finished the engine and it was a thing of beauty.
Lurking behind the XK 120 was a dis-assembled silver 1963 Jaguar E-Type. Annnnd boy, do I mean DIS-ASSEMBLED! The front hood was off and leaning against the wall behind the chassis frame. Richard’s electrical expert had just finished wiring the entire car and mechanics were underway. English Auto is something special. I almost thought I was “live” on the Velocity Channel!
While walking to the back of Richard’s shop, I turned right and before my eyes was another rare and beautiful car – a 1956 Austin Healey 104! On this particular classic, parts are difficult to come by and in many cases they are special-ordered or manufactured. The body was done and painted an absolutely beautiful 2-tone black on red. When this Healey is done it will be a real show-stopper. Richard explained that his customers’ cars are not restored overnight but are 1 to 2 year projects. I assume that the $$ behind these restorations is supplied by people of means (of course the word “lawyer” came up a lot).
There is something our Triumph members would like to hear (are you listening Steve?). Richard restores Triumphs and from what I saw, there were lots of them.
The gray TR6 in the picture (above) was a full frame off restoration. The dark blue TR6 (below) featured a fully modified overbore engine, Toyota 5 speed and even a rear sway bar, along with an advanced wiring system with 7 relays and 15 fuses. Richard pulled the heater system and replaced it with his own including air conditioning. The AC brackets were completely fabricated from scratch.
After visiting Richard’s shop we all caravanned to a Garage rented by him. Between the warehouse and the ground there were probably 50-60 classic cars! To name a few, there was a mustard colored 1957 Alva, a red 1947 Dellow, and a host of vintage MGs, TRs and TVRs.
In this very unpretentious part of eastern Tennessee, I believe it absolutely baffling that these enthusiasts and their cars just keep coming. The Driveline will continue to contain even more of these kinds of articles.