Car News: Repair or Pimp

A weekly guide to all that’s rotten about car ownership, plus some good bits


Most accidents happen when we take the same route every day

One of occasional pieces on the car industry, this time offering good practical guidance.


When first I became a novice car owner I fell prey to the excessive repair and service costs of flaky official dealers. First time buyers unused to a dealer’s wily ways takes things on trust. These days, I know the drill when  the car gets rear-ended, who best to repair my car, and how to preserve it against Scotland’s weather, and idiot supermarket parkers and trolleys.

Official dealers can be problematic. For a start, what’s their service standards like? You don’t really know until you try them. An inspector of one major British car manufacturer told me out of every ten appointed dealerships three never serviced their pre-owned cars before selling them, going as far as to refuse a mandatory check list. They were maximising their profits. In another, an elitist marque had “engines lined up at the workshop to get fixed”. On the street side of the dealership they were still selling the same pricey supercar. If you cannot trust main dealers who can you trust?

How can you save money on a repair and get a first class job, or simply upgrade your car to keep it in good order? Knowledge of the specialist arrives by the recommendation.

Good dealers value your custom, offering discounts for servicing and parts as a way of retaining your loyalty. Toyota has such a scheme for owners of older cars. Conversely, a ‘service’ can amount to no more than a car wash. Happily, there are exceptions. One of the best services is offered by Mercedes. Mechanics e-mail a video of what’s wrong under your car’s shiny bodywork together with an estimate of costs, an exemplary system.


It’s not that well known that the shiny concept the manufacturer premiers at the motor show isn’t quite the one offered once off the assembly line. To stay on the safe side of statutory regulations manufacturers scale back some of the concept car’s qualities. What you see at the auto show is the ideal, what you get is probably ninety per cent of the ideal. That’s the window of opportunity grabbed by the aftermarket boys.

MG enthusiasts have one of the best aftermarket service in the world. MG suppliers can upgrade everything to turn a sixties MG into a modern car to drive. There’s the apocryphal story of the Ford owner who had to wait 10 days to receive a replacement part, and the MGB GT owner who got his in the post next day. Often the MG part is a better quality than ever provided by the old MG factory.


Three companies I recommend, for repairs, improvements, or just pimping, are all slightly off the beaten track, each accessible to car owners living in Scotland’s central belt. Indeed, as well as all-Scottish owned they’re so good at what they do it’s worth getting your vehicle to them wherever you live!


No matter how good a driver we are there’s always an idiot around to dent your car


We all hate accidents, the pain, the inconvenience, the tardy insurance company, but it happens to us all. I got to know of Edgefield, a family business, when I noticed the biggest UK insurance companies demanding repairs taken to them, not to the dealership’s body shop. That was significant. What did Edgefield do better than a main dealer? The answer is, from minor bumps to major collision as good a job if not better than any expensive dealership. They don’t have a massive warehouse with a staff of twenty; so, overheads are low and charges fair. They can offer you a temporary car meantime, and will collect and return your damaged vehicle as good as new. They will fix something minor as a favour, their attention to detail second-to-none.

Gary, the workshop manager, takes you through the process of repair so you understand what is involved to achieve a perfect finish. And if it’s only a kerbed or rusted wheel made like new again he can attend to that too. They have facilities to repair any make and model of car up to 7.5 tonnes including tyres, exhausts, brakes, suspension, servicing clutches, air con and vehicle geometric checks. (How many of us get a wheel alignment on a regular basis?)

I’ve a 25 year-old original three-door Toyota SUV, the pioneer of SUVs – pimped. It looks so showroom new people ask where they can buy one. As well as damage to my other cars, Edgefield helped recreate that RAV, as did Transcal the Coach Trimmers who I discuss next. Perhaps because they are a small company Gary and his young colleagues try harder than most, but they don’t have to make excuses for their repairs and paint re-sprays. They offer that old fashioned thing – pride in their work.

Edgefield Coachworks, Unit One, Eldin Industrial Estate, Loanhead, EH20 9DX. 0131.441.3108. Reached via Edinburgh ring road, not far away from IKEA showroom.


No matter how complicated a seat’s design Transcal can reupholster it


Transcal is an odd name attached to creating car interiors, one not easily remembered, though well known in the Scottish motor trade. Once you see inside their premises the standard and extent of their workmanship is jaw-dropping. This is a company that makes seats for aircraft and railway carriages as well as retrimming your classic car, or upgrading your latest pride and joy.

I’ve remarked before on how people will wash or change the cover on their sofa every few years, but not the seat covers on their car. Drivers seem happy to sit among years of hairs, skin follicles, potato chips, dirty squabs, and lop-sided Transcal can do that for you. They can re-pad wonky car seats, or cover them in beautiful leather, and even emboss your initials or crest. Not enough? Ask them to embroider an insignia on the headrest; they can do that too, and give you better quality carpets at the same time. Veteran car, classic, or your modern car that looks as tired as you feel after a bad day at work, Transcal will rejuvenate it. They can recreate or redesign almost anything automotive.

The man to ask is Sam. Sam is a guy unperturbed by the state of some cars that arrive at his door, and used to owners with too much money and no taste, as well as a tight budget, he will ensure the workmanship is second to none. And Transcal are ace at recovering worn steering wheels – check the illustration at the end of this essay.

Transcal, Coach Trimmers & Engineers, Firth Rd, Houstoun Industrial Estate, Livingston EH54 5DJ. 01506.440111. Access by the M8, second left to the estate.


A stainless steel exhaust can rejuvenate an engine and last a lifetime


It’s not that well known that the shiny concept the manufacturer premiers at the motor show isn’t quite the one offered once off the assembly line. To stay on the safe side of statutory regulations manufacturers scale back some of the concept car’s qualities. What you see at the auto show is the ideal, what you get is probably ninety per cent of the ideal. That’s the window of opportunity grabbed by the aftermarket boys.

In the USA there are any number of aftermarket companies that can recreate, or even re-purpose your car even if it’s a wreck. The UK is just beginning to wake up to that old fashioned craft in which it once excelled – the car builder. More people want their car to look different from others. The trick is not to go mental and throw good money after items that depreciate soon as installed. Leather upholstery will keep its value, a sunroof will not. (USA: moonroof.) A stainless steel exhaust is worth its weight in gold, thousands of pounds of hi-fi equipment is like leafing a holdall with money in the street.

Stainless Steel Creations in Falkirk is one such company that, given your car for a decent length of time, with provide it with a new heart and lungs. Their stainless steel exhaust systems bespoke fabricated to be snorting loud, or  limousine quiet, can alter a car’s performance better than when it left the factory. And if you want to uprate engine parts from basic to long-lasting and durable they can turn a dirty, greasy engine bay into a sculpture with silicon hoses, chrome everything, and stainless steel brake lines. Those upgrades might sound the province of the petrolhead, but if your car isn’t garaged, left to the elements, improving parts that get a beating extend the life of a vehicle.

They are a small company with big ideas and a ton of expertise. The man to talk to is Graydon. Whatever you want improved under the bonnet or the suspension he will find a way to do it if it doesn’t already exist off the shelf.

Stainless Steel Creations, Unit 20 Burnbank Rd, Falkirk FK2 7PE. 01324 622832. You can get lost on any of the roundabouts on the way there, so use a sat-nav.

Post Script: No money or booze changed hands in the writing of all this praise. I’ve used the companies a few times, and yet to be let down. It was Transcal who re-leathered the little RAV’s steering wheel – note the lovely blue double stitching to match the body colour – and added this embroidered insignia. Cool, or what?


NEXT WEEK: The Geneva Motor Show – only for the wealthy.


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