Clarissa is clothed, tyred and tested

When I discussed upholstery with Gordon Cromb, we looked at colours to go with the paint colour chosen. The original car colour in 1937 had been Desert Sand and black hood with deep red upholstery and carpet. Although these colours had worked well together, the only photo I had showed a tallish somewhat large looking car that lacked definition due to the light exterior colour.

Jim Maxwell and I had spent some time discussing colours and decided that we would try to keep a similar scheme to the original, and picked a two tone deep burgundy body with black guards, running boards and hood, completed with beige upholstery and pale brown carpet. We hoped that this two-tone effect would add definition to the body and lower its apparent height.

Gordon ordered two hides for the seats and matching vinyl for the door panels and arm rests, and the exterior hood lining together with the interior wool lining was also sourced and delivery arranged.

John Kenny had painted the body and guards and these were sitting unassembled in Gordon's workshop so we were not really able to get any idea of what the end product might look like. It was a time for patience as gradually the butterfly emerged.

Firstly the seats were prepared: these had been rebuilt, and runners from a 1974 Lancia had been modified to replace original equipment that was well past its use-by date. The rear seats required frame replacement and it was found that we needed to lower the seat by 2" just to make it useable, as the headroom was less than 35" (were people that short pre war?). I checked on the original specifications and found that originally there had been 37" headroom, but I couldn't get within a bull's roar of this - at least, not without reducing the depth of the cushion to 2" which would be a bit hard on the seat. Oh well, I would just have to keep the back seat for the grandchildren.

Next came the interior head lining, done in grey wool and attached to the head bows, tensioned by pop studs. Meanwhile, Colton and I had not been resting on our laurels, we had been busy fitting the guards and running boards, including fitting the welting. The doors were checked again just to make sure nothing had moved.

Next came the new tyres; I had originally obtained a set of 600x16 Dunlop C49s made in Zimbabwe, but was unable to balance these satisfactorily so exchanged them for Firestones at much greater expense.

Suddenly it all started to come together and one day in early February Gordon asked me to call round. He had fitted the exterior hood covering and the car had suddenly appeared lower and much more purposeful - we had been right about the two-tone colour scheme and the darker colours had made the car look lower - it looked great. Patience now became a problem, as I wanted to finish it and try it out - the car looked like it wanted to be driven.

Eventually the door panels, seats and the fitted carpet were completed and it was then only a matter of finishing the installation of the many small items required before an appointment for a warrant of fitness and registration.

I made an appointment with AA Technical in Tauranga and drove Clarissa down to meet Bruce McKerras and the staff who were going to decide whether I would able to register her. The warrant was granted first time and it was then just down to classifying, registering and obtaining a VIN. It was at this point that things looked like they might turn to custard as they couldn't find the right classification, but eventually it was registered as a "Factory Built Railton Claremont".

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