Talking Classics With Daniel Warner

By Rob Harvey
By Rob Harvey

Marketing Manager - Bridge Classic Cars

Daniel Warner is a good friend of Bridge Classic Cars. As a regular at our events, we have got to know his love of cars (in particular, Land Rovers), and his YouTube and Instagram projects, and wanted to ask him some questions to help share his great work with even more people.

This is how our conversation went:

Your business is very centred around cars, tell us a little bit about what you do?

About 15 years ago my Land Rover hobby and addiction got out of hand. It was part-time around my actual job and I got more and more people asking me to undertake jobs or supply parts. It was when I had a health scare from working 7 days a week in my day job, that I decided doing what I enjoyed was more important than money and stature so jacked it all in and walked away from the city job and became a hobbit in an old barn.

I do Galvanized chassis swaps on land rovers, and various modifications and servicing. I also do servicing on other makes of cars for friends, family and local customers and I also buy the odd car that needs some love to do up and sell on.

What element about your work with cars do you enjoy the most?

Anyone who owns Land Rovers will know they get under your skin. You can’t just have one (due to addiction and the obvious reliability before someone says it) so I just enjoy taking a dilapidated car, getting it all stripped down, and rebuilding it to be put back on the road and loved.

They look great both shabby or restored, but I get great satisfaction from seeing them back out on the road again. I enjoy what I do with them because it’s mostly just me, in the shed with my dog Dexter (who’s been with me in the workshop for over 10 years), the radio on and the kettle regularly getting power applied to it! After a few years of a stressful city job, it’s just a calm and relaxed atmosphere doing something I love. I’ll never be rich doing it, but that’s not really the point.

You are an avid collector of cars, what kinds do you have?

My car collection has changed a bit over the years. I could list hundreds of cars and builds but we’d be here forever so I’ll attempt to condense it down.

From collecting Opels such as the 200tS, and 180iS and Vauxhalls like Astra GSi’s, Vectra GSi’s, and Cavalier Turbos etc, I moved on to Rovers, MGs and Land Rovers. Currently in the fleet I have an MG Midget which I’m supposed to be restoring for my mum (it’s been in the shed a few years), an MGF I converted to be a 160, a Rover 420 GSi Sport Turbo which I restored a few years back and is a very rare car, a Rover BRM I bought from a widow and promised to get back on the road in memory of her husband, which I drove back to her last year to show it was back out on road, a classic Mini project I bought from the same widow (after seeing the BRM she asked if I’d like to do the same with their mini).

I’ve had it out for a few weeks before Christmas but it now needs a carb rebuild so that needs doing before spring. I have a 2007 Jaguar XJ Twin Turbo Diesel I bought as a non-running car from an auction. It looked awful in the pics but put a cheeky bid in and won it for less than the tyres were worth. I’ve since put a new engine in after buying an S Type donor and now use it daily. Also found the old owner but that’s a story in itself!

Land Rover wise there are a few. I sold a Discovery a few years back to a local gent. He asked me to take his old one away and scrap it. When I got there and got the log book it turned out to be a release day Discovery 1 200Tdi 3 Door. Not a GWAC but sold on the day they were released, so I didn’t scrap it and will restore it one day! I have 2 Range Rover Classics. One is a 1996 (one of the last soft dash cars) that I bought as just a full body with interior. No chassis or running gear so it’s now sat on a Discovery 2 TD5 chassis and running gear so will be on a 2000 X reg so that’ll turn a few heads when it’s done. The other is a parts car, but if values still carry on climbing it might also get restored later on.

Then there’s the P38 tow car I use to pull my triple axle Brian James trailer. Bought from the original owner and I adore it. Black on black on black and has done tens of thousands of miles mostly towing. It’s been a great car! Then the wife has an L322 that I can’t tempt her out of, and to be fair, although not cosmetically appealing, it drives fantastic. Then lastly is my 1985 Defender 90 Pick Up. I Bought for £500 from a collapsing barn, I’ve re-chassised it and fitted a 300TDi and Van back and used it for a while but I’m now currently most of the way through putting it on another galvanised chassis from Maer in Poland with a TD5 engine, Ashcroft Boxes and full Airride suspension so that I can get it in my home garage! I think this is the least cars I’ve had in a long time. The collection was over 20 cars at one point. Got very much out of hand!

Where did your love of cars begin?

As a kid, I remember playing with hundreds of toy cars on my mum’s carpet. It was patterned like roads and roundabouts. Was a great road network! As I got older, I got Petrol Go Karts and my dad had a few cool cars in the 80s such as a Capri 2.8, XR3is, Merc 190e’s, Merc Pullmans, Metro Turbo, A Lambo kit car etc my uncle was also a mechanic. He had a big halfmoon building in his yard that he worked from so saw lots going on in there.

He also had a Range Rover Classic B757 OAD. I’ll never forget it. Unfortunately, he met his demise in that car in the early 90s but I’m sure he’d have gone on to have more land rovers and no doubt where I got the seed planted. It then blossomed with my 2 Range Rovers at 17 (although I did nothing to them and sold them on) then when it really took hold was around 2010 when my housemate at the time had a 90. He got me to buy a Discovery 200tdi to go off-roading in and it went crazy from there and I’ve not been without one since!

My mum’s side of the family always had Rovers. My grandad kept his 216 immaculate. He bought it brand new in 1993 and it was passed to me in 2013 when he gave up driving. It still had the plastic on the sills. It was that mint. I ended up selling it cheap to a family who were on hard times and needed a car. They loved it for a long time till they could get something newer. I think a collector now has it from what I’ve seen. But because of the family rover theme, my mum’s neighbour had a 94 Rover 420 GSi. I could see it out my bedroom window when I was around 11 or 12 parked outside their house and I loved the little bonnet bulge it had, hence why I now own a 420 Turbo. It’s the car I’ve had the longest and don’t ever envisage selling it although I’ve had many offers!

I also grew up with Max Power Magazine, Revs Magazine and Fast Car which all have a lot to answer for. Going to Southend in my first car which was a Metro (that my nan handed down to me at 17 that I’d tarted up with MG bits) through to my 20s in other motors such as the mk2 Astra with a bodykit and then the 200tS really cemented cars in my mind and I’ve been addicted ever since!

I feel sorry for modern-day car enthusiasts. Southend cruise every week was the place to be. The hobby is almost outlawed now. I was lucky to get to experience it!

You blog and document your endeavours with cars, what made you start this up?

Yes, YouTube. I’m a very shy person. I struggle in social situations and find it awkward talking to people, so YouTube is a strange thing for me to do.

I’m from the days of forums, and project posts on places like MigWeb and Retro Rides etc but people moved away from those when Facebook groups became a thing so documenting projects got lost. You’d see them on FB for a day and they’d be gone never to be seen again, toppled by new posts. I was very late to YouTube. I began watching it regularly about 4yrs ago when I found Bad Obsession Motorsport and their project Binky. Anyone who hasn’t seen their Celica GT4 powered 4wd Classic Mini I urge you to binge it.

From there I found more and more people to watch and thought why don’t I just give it a go? You see many people getting sponsored and they seem to be earning well so why not try it? I’m on my own in a dark shed with just an iPhone so quality isn’t the best and I’m definitely not a natural, but I do have a loyal albeit small following but I’m only a couple of years in. Some I watch have been on for 10yrs so I’m still relatively new to it.

It takes quite a lot of commitment to film stuff on your own. If I do an in-depth video like my Smart Clutch change one which has done very well, it makes the job take many more hours as you have to be conscious of camera angles, explanations etc so most of the time I have to just give an overview or update videos otherwise I’d never get anything done. If you have a camera man you can crack on while they get the shots. It’s a fine line between content and work. 

How is your content received online and how do you find the online community?

I’ve accumulated just over 2.5k subscribers. A very small number compared to most but I’m extremely proud of that. I don’t know why they stick around but they do and I’m grateful! I get a lot of encouraging comments and a fair few likes.

As I’ve said I’m not a natural and my content may be niche and probably a bit dull to most, but I think there are many dull men out there that enjoy it like I do. I’d love to grow the channel and bring more content to those who’ve stuck around, but I won’t do ‘content for hits’ I only film what I’ve done or what happens. I won’t search out things to do that might be a hit. That might get new subs but it isn’t authentic. YouTube pays for half my workshop electricity a month so I’m definitely not retiring on it but it’s fun and some people seem to enjoy it.

I’ve not had much hate yet at all so my experience has been good. I think If you have the time and you think people might be interested in what you do, why not upload it to YouTube? It’s also a good back catalogue to go back over, just like the old forum days!

You attend a lot of Bridge Classic Car events, what do you think is so important about forming a classic car community and also preserving both the history and future of these cars?

I really enjoy coming over to Bridge. Everyone there is so nice and welcoming and the quality of work you see is fantastic. The Tuesday Cars and Coffee meets are perfect mornings out. I’m lucky to be able to come over as opposed to being stuck in a job that won’t allow it and because of its small numbers, you get to interact with the staff and just chat about cars.

The workshop tour is my favourite and you see the progress of each car every month from it coming in sometimes as a wreck, to progressing through its stripdown, its repair, its repaint and its rebuild. It’s a great thing to see. It’s also when I spend some time with a great friend of mine Simon who is really old but he loves going out to Bridge as well. I often chauffeur him there in his Rolls Royce too. It must be fantastic to work at Bridge. I’ve even sent my CV in.

Seeing the results of restorations, the popularity of the competition cars, and the immense satisfaction you must get from giving the car to the winners is great to almost be a part of as a ‘customer’. I hope my regular visits to Bridge mean we’ve formed a relationship for years to come. I’ve told so many people about the place and got friends to attend meets and shows there. Like I said earlier, with the demise of things like the Southend and Chelsea cruises, the Bridge meets keep the hobby going and it’s great to see such an enthusiastic company keeping this alive.

Bridge don’t have to allow people to walk round their workshops, or open their doors to a handful of people on a Tuesday, but by doing so they keep people interested and inspired to undertake a project, resto or even to buy/try and win a classic car. We need to keep these cars at the forefront, especially with all the pressure of the environment and politics that risk the future of our hobby. 

If you could own any car what would it be?

My dream car since having the poster on my wall from the age of 10 is a Ford Escort RS Cosworth. One of my biggest regrets is not buying one back in the day when they were affordable. I would honestly sell everything I have to own one.

Everything I have wouldn’t pay for one anymore so I think it’ll always be a dream. I’ve been lucky to drive my friend’s car which was a bog standard car. They say never drive your dream, but I can honestly say I loved every second. My Jaguar would thrash it in a straight line, but that’s not what it’s about for me. It’s an iconic car and I so desperately yearn for one. I’d like a White one, with the full leather and proper Cosworth embellished rocker cover YB engine. One day……… Maybe.

How do you see your business and your own personal collection growing with the ever changing automotive world?

In all honesty, as far as the collection goes, I need to slim it down further. I’ve just got remarried and priorities have somewhat changed. I want to enjoy my life with my lovely wife as well as cars and having too many projects means I won’t get a chance to, and it becomes so overwhelming.

She is so supportive of my hobby and actively encourages me to get stuff done on them and go to events but I need to get the balance right. Back when I had over 20 projects I’d end up procrastinating over what to do and end up doing nothing. That being said, I don’t quite know how to slim it down further! The BRM has been for sale so I can use the 420 but I won’t be sad if it doesn’t go, and all the Land Rovers are keepers (other than the L322) so I reckon unless that Escort Cosworth comes they’ll all be staying.

I’ll just try not to add to them again! Business-wise, we could all do with a few extra pennies so if I could pick up a bit more work that would be great whether that’s in the workshop or part-time elsewhere, but I’ve had a big turnover business in the past and it didn’t make me happy. There’s more to life and I love taking Dexter the dog to work with me in my little shed and getting these Land Rovers done.

I don’t have visions of a huge warehouse with loads of staff, Ideally, it would be a slightly bigger workshop than I have now, in my own yard doing the same as I do now! That to me sounds bliss so that’s my goal! I’ll leave taking over the world to Bridge Classic Cars

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