Is that my million--dollar baby?
If it's not one thing, it's another, right? First, the maid takes a day off and no one else knows how to work the vacuum cleaner. Then the gardener quits (and who can you find these days to mow an acre of lawn?). To top it off, the Rolls has a scratch. Not a large one, mind you, and it's tucked beneath the front bumper on the fender. But a scratch on the Rolls is, well, intolerable. So into the shop it goes.Skip to next paragraph
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The "shop," the only shop for a Los Angeles Rolls-Royce, is James Young Coachworks. It is the largest and most famous Rolls-Royce repair shop -- if one could stoop to call it that -- outside of London. The owners prefer the term "auto restoration facility." Whatever needs "doing" to a Rolls, any Rolls of any vintage, can be done here to suit the most finicky of owners. Indeed, finicky ranks as the second best adjective, right behind rich, applied to Rolls-Royce owners.
They are, for the most part, members in good standing of the money-is-no-object-if-you-have-to-ask-how-much-it-costs-you-can't-afford-it crowd. Not too surprisingly, many (perhaps most) of them live in Southern California. Over half the Rolls-Royce shipped to the US -- the company's largest market -- end up purring down West Coast freeways.
And when the purr starts to sputter, when a wheel begins to wobble, if the paint threatens to peel or the leather looks too lean; when the horn won't honk or a latch becomes unhinged -- whatever the problem -- that is when the craftsmen at James Young go to work with their deft combinations of skill and tender loving care.
However, fixing is not necessarily their forte. They change and restore with a passion, spurred on by whatever whim the owner has and bound only by his or her checkbook and certain restriction of taste implicit in the fact "that the car is, after all, a Rolls-Royce," comments service manager John Beaton in a thick Scottish brogue.
Beyond that, says part-owner Preston Tyree, the sky can be, and often is, the limit. "We had one guy come in here who wanted everything to be electric. He didn't want to move out of his seat for anything. We ended up putting 20 electric pushbuttons in the console. We even made it so that he could push a button and the backseat folded out into a bed. The important thing about that, though, was that it had to look exactly like a Rolls-Royce back seat when folded up."
then there was the Hollywood producer who wanted to watch not only television but also his own movies while gliding through traffic. He had James Young install the television in the back seat console and a video tape recorder up front (next to the chauffeur. For those who might have seen it, the car, a blue Rolls-Royce Phantom V, made a stunning appearance in the movie "Two Minute Warning.")
A Corniche (convertible) owner decided he did not like the color scheme of his car, so he brought it over from Hawaii and had it changed. "I couldn't believe it," says Mr. Tyree. "The car had 16,000 miles on it. That's almost new for a Rolls. The guy had it changed from blue to brown, everything: the outside, the top, the interior. It cost him $25,000."