Walkinshaw set for eBay challenge

With the Silverstone Classic only weeks away, official partner eBay is now in full flow in gearing up for its Restoration Live project, featuring Fergus Walkinshaw.

Hosted by eBay, Restoration Live with Fergus Walkinshaw will guide crowds through every step of the project as they renovate the iconic first-generation Range Rover using only items bought from eBay. The Range Rover, once restored, will appear on stage during the Mike Brewer Car Clinic on Sunday at the Classic, with Mike and Fergus answering questions and sharing their experience of the complex project.

bodyshop magazine managed to catch up with Fergus for an exclusive interview to find out more:

How did you get involved with the eBay Live Restoration project?

I had a call from Classic Historic Racing and eBay, and it sounded like a really exciting project – restore a classic vehicle, live during Silverstone Classic using only parts and accessories from eBay. As it’s something that’s never been done before, we were delighted to take up the challenge. We often use eBay as a source of parts, so we are very familiar with ebay.co.uk and know our way around the site well. Completing the full restoration in three days in front of a live audience just adds more excitement and it will be great to take the public through the journey with us.

On the Sunday we’re also taking the Range Rover on Silverstone’s off-road course, so it’s got to be in great condition – there’s no room for mistakes.

What considerations do you have with the Live Restoration undertaking?

On a project of this size, planning is key, so we have given the Range Rover a really thorough check to see what needs to be done. We have a detailed schedule of works for the weekend, what jobs will be done when and by which team member, and which activity can take place simultaneously.  And, of course, we have identified and sourced the extensive parts required from eBay ready for the weekend.

eBay has always been a fantastic source for out of production parts and this project has really highlighted the extensive selection available on the site. With around 8 million live listings of parts and accessories on ebay.co.uk at any one time, I’ve found everything from the everyday through to some really rare, hard to find parts.

Famed for your motorsport prowess, FW Motorsport also provides a range of road and race modification/restoration services. Tell us a little more about this side of the business.

For our motorsport clients, we can undertake everything from extensive racecar preparation and development, chassis set-up and composites, right through to race support, including testing programmes and driver tuition, and full on-event race team management.

Our crew of highly experienced mechanics and engineers also specialise in complete race and road car builds, high performance modifications, classic vehicle restoration and modernisation projects. These can encompass anything from engine performance enhancements, aspiration conversions and upgrades, CAD design and drawing of one-off or custom components, right through to bespoke builds, reconditioning and restorations.

 With regard the above line of work – what day-to-day challenges do you typically face? How do you ensure these are overcome?

With restorations there’s always an element of the unknown. You never know the extent of work that will be required on a full restoration until you start getting down to the real detail, as you can’t be certain what’s hidden under carpets or paintwork. You have to be prepared for anything!

Run of the mill modifications with set kit is usually pretty straight forward. When you start looking at custom projects you often need to come up with some creative problem solving to make things work, even to the extent of drawing custom parts, which we can design in-house ready for machining by our partners.

What drives this side of the business and how do you measure success?

FW Motorsport is still a relatively young company, which I founded in 2013 while only in my second year at university. With my degree completed last year, my focus has very much been on expanding the business, so at the moment it’s a case of growing by word of mouth and recommendation.

What changes have you experienced to this side of the business since founded in 2013?

While I had to concentrate on completing university, prior to 2016 our primary focus was the race car team. Now we are concentrating on expanding our expertise beyond core motorsport and reaching more into automotive projects, so it’s an exciting time.

As an engineer, aside from winning races, what do you enjoy most about the automotive world?

Working in this field and particularly on restoration and rebuild projects, you never know what challenges you’re going to face from one day to the next. You also need a diverse skill and knowledge base across many different sectors, and the ability to tap into a lot of different specialists and partners.

What are your thoughts on current vehicle developments and how do you see the future of vehicle construction/propulsion?

The development of alternative fuel sources continues to be a developing trend, however at the moment that continues to be within a niche market rather than as a mainstream option. Obviously this area still needs extensive research and development, but we are also seeing the stronger development of fuel cell technology, which to me is far more interesting.

What is your opinion on the much heralded advent of autonomous vehicles? Will we be seeing you in one in the next decade?

I personally wouldn’t choose to use one, however, there is a serious and growing place in the market for their use, particularly within cities.