Saturday, October 08, 2016

Australian businessman Jim Byrnes has the largest restoration business in the world, and was smart to establish it in the Philippines for the cheap labor and metal hand craftsmanship

“I’ve been a collector for 40 years, but six years ago I sold a company for $100 million and started investing seriously. If I buy the right cars, they’re a currency hedge; if the currency is down in one country, I’ll buy there. If it’s strong in another, I’ll sell there.”

Byrnes explains that seven to 10 years ago it was not economically viable to restore most E-types, due to the cost of the parts and the small matter of 3,000 hours of work.

Choosing a location where workers are skilled and dedicated, but labour rates are a fraction of those in the world’s main centres of classic car enthusiasm, meant that Byrnes could get his burgeoning collection restored well but cheaply, commissioning restorations in batches for economies of scale. So he sought out a tax free zone, former Clark Air Force Base in the PI.

With labour rates of up to £100 per hour in the UK and most of Europe, and not much less in the US, five years ago a car bought for £25,000 would cost about £225,000 to restore, he says – but it would only sell for £125,000.

The company's chief executive, Jason Lemberg, came to BMT after running the restoration department at Symbolic Motors of California, where his restorations twice won “best in class” at Pebble Beach.

“The workers have a real passion and attention to detail,” he says. “There’s a worldwide shortage of good metalworkers and the locals are incredible.

Thanks Steve!

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