Classic & Sports Car – March 2015
Paul Bussey – Freelance auto journalist
Founded in 1989 and with Mike Bedford at the helm since 2010, Bell Classics has established an enviable reputation for high quality and reliability, specialising in Ferraris, Aston Martins and other high performance cars. The team of seven engineers cover engine building and tuning, flowbenching, aluminium coachwork finished to metal and parts remanufacture making the most of modern materials.
“Nothing is a substitute for intelligence.” says Bedford, “My apprentices are grade ‘A’ students and our ‘out of the box’ thinking is sometimes orthogonal to conventional wisdon, resulting in solutions that are otherwise missed or undiscovered” declares Mike. “Lateral thinking is required to establish precisely why a gearbox seized or an oil pump cavitates or an engine overheats, since the cause is often not obvious when previous repairs and non standard parts have been fitted in the past.”
As Bell Classics encounters problems, solutions often result in a product that is made available to others. A fit and forget Quaife differential for the Ferrari 250 and 275 transaxle, a water pump seal that won’t leak like original and remanufactured 40DCN3 carburettors using 3D printing technology are on the way since old ones have distorted with age and leak air. “See the website for details”.
“We’re flowbenching a 330 head at the moment, which has revealed unnecessary lift in the cam profile and a rocker ‘swipe’ that was eliminated with our proprietary valves and our piston design has closer tolerance to the inlet valve, higher compression and lower reciprocating mass, so we expect the engine to rev much higher on the Dyno” explains Mike.
The body shop currently has a 365 GTC undergoing bare metal restoration and fibre glass tub repairs. There is also a DB6 Volante undergoing a ground up restoration for a city client, “we’ve even designed improved rubber seals to guarantee a water tight hood” says Mike.
Commissioned to build a contemporised 330 GTO concept that features an elegant sliding aluminium roof operated by hand from the seated position, Mike enthuses “We’re making use of CAD software that is programmed with the constraints of the human body to aid design and development before committing to build”. Once completed another five will be built to order.
Mike is investing in the next generation of engineers by funding an in-house apprentice scheme to build a track day MG Midget with a 1.8L Ford Zetec engine converted to fully mechanical operation with two side draft Webers and uprated brakes, “The car is very fast and sounds fantastic, but most important of all, it stops quickly as well.”
Fastidious attention to detail, engineering expertise and top quality workmanship is very much alive and well at Bell Classics, under the very enthusiastic direction of Mike Bedford.