Family run restoration business still going strong in Bolton
If there’s one thing that can be said about the Beer family, who have owned and operated Reg Beer’s Coachbuilder for over 40 years, it’s that being car enthusiasts is part of what has driven them to keep going.
Walking inside the workshop, any car aficionado’s eyes would light up to see the beautiful, antique and classic cars, both completed and in the middle of being worked on. They work primarily on British cars and have British car owners seek them out, mainly because of Reg’s background in coach building in England.
The business began as a body shop in the 60’s in Toronto, and then became a full-time restoration business when Reg moved the shop to Bolton. At the time, his eldest son Steve, was already working for him, and once the younger son, Martin, completed his mechanic apprenticeship, he too joined the team of what would become a renowned restoration business in North America.
“There was definitely a love for the cars, there was an interest in the cars, and I don’t think either of us could see ourselves just working on standard, every day cars as a living,” explained Steve Beer. “We wanted to do something out of the ordinary. We already had a background from dad in the British cars, so we tended to gravitate towards the collector cars right from the start.”
Martin Beer agreed, adding that if they weren’t working in the restoration business, they likely wouldn’t be working on cars at all.
“Initially, I was just going to do this for the summer until the job market opened up, and then I was going to find a real job. But that was back in 75, so I guess I’m pretty well committed to this now,” he said with a laugh.
Over the years, the company has changed as the face of the market changed. During its initial years, the restoration business focused mainly on pre-war vehicles. From there, it evolved into both pre and post war, moved into some vintage racing preparation, and at one time, they even became a Morgan dealership, selling new, Morgan cars to collectors.
The changes now, however, may not be as fruitful for the business as they were in the past. They have gone from being a 12 month a year restoration business to only six months, with the other six months mainly being service to previously restored vehicles.
“The demand isn’t as high as it was in the past,” explained Martin. “The enthusiasts are still out there, there are still collectors, but at some point in time, all the cars are going to be restored, they’re going to be done. It’s a self-diminishing business basically, because there are only so many around to do.”
Despite the slow decline, both brothers are pleased with the job they’ve done. Reg Beer’s Coachbuilder has been recognized across North America, with projects being displayed at exclusive invite-only car shows throughout Canada and the States over the years.
But it’s not just the cars, the satisfaction to completing the job, or praise for the job they’ve done that drives them. When it comes down to it, it’s the people that have helped keep them in business over the years.
“We enjoy what we do on the cars, but the people that own these cars are the most colourful that you’re going to come across,” said Martin. “Whether they’re a car collector or a one-time owner, we’ve come across cars to restore that the people had bought brand-new in the 60’s, but as far as they’re concerned, they are still in love with the car that they’ve bought off the showroom floor in the 60’s.”
Steve added that the customers definitely make the work they do more than worthwhile.
“It’s nice to have customers that are as enthusiastic about the job as we are, that’s a big part of it as well,” he said. “All of the customers, very few of them are having us do work on the car just on a monetary speculation basis. They’re enthusiasts as well, they’re car enthusiasts.”
Written By: Tabitha Wellsw