Over half a century after it first left the factory, a 1965 Bentley T-Series has returned to the company’s headquarters in Crewe to be restored by Bentley apprentices. The renovation project forms a key part of the Bentley apprenticeship learning program. Laura Pilling is a first-year leather and trim apprentice, currently working on the project.
“Restoring a 1965 Bentley T-Series is an exciting project for an apprentice. As part of my three-year manufacturing apprenticeship I have the opportunity to work as part of a team to bring this once-magnificent Bentley back to its former glory,” she said.
For the leather and trim apprentice, the car’s interior aesthetics and feel are priority. Bentleys are renowned for their handcrafted and beautifully styled interiors so that presented a real challenge. Under the tutorship of Bentley Master Trainer Colin Jackson and with the collaboration of Pilling’s fellow trim apprentices, they learn the techniques that Bentley craftsmen have been excelling at for decades. Colin teaches them to respect the natural leather hides.
Although the obscurities in the leather mean that each piece of the car is unique, the apprentices have to learn to work methodically. Following assembly instructions and quality processes is essential to ensuring the quality of the car’s interior and instils in all the apprentices an attention to detail that will be fundamental to building Bentleys of the future.
From inspecting the hide for natural flaws to re-building and trimming the seats, it is also essential to work as a team. In total, there are three trim apprentices in their first year who are working on the project. Good communication is key to our success and we have regular update sessions to discuss progress, any technical problems and share the solutions we find.
The teamwork doesn’t stop there. There is a further team of apprentices training in Bentley’s woodshop and they are tasked with restoring the T1’s iconic ring of wood. The Paint apprentices will be responsible for bringing the car’s beautiful silver paint back to its best. The Mechatronics apprentices also have plenty to do, ensuring that the T1’s 6.25-liter V8 engine is running smoothly.
“And how does this prepare me for building Bentley’s of the future? Well, I have acquired traditional and modern leather trimming skills as well as learning the importance of having an eye for detail and working as part of a team. Most of all, I have got that sense of pride that comes with working on the very best cars in the world,” Pilling said.