Aurora company takes auto upholstery to all-new heights.
Whether you want to restore the interior of that treasured car of your youth – or you want an extravagant custom finish that catches the eye of the entire planet – Gary Nolan knows where you’re coming from.
Nolan heads up a team of four expert craftsmen at Diamond Trim in Aurora, an interior trim specialist that has done it all and has the portfolio to prove it.
The crew has been entrusted with perfecting the interiors of cars that include such exquisite roadsters as the 1934 Lincoln and the 1952 Mercedes 220A.
They’ve fashioned a 1970 Barracuda up to snuff and applied their touch to multi-million dollar prototype cars that have dazzled the crowds at the most prestigious car shows in the world.
It all started as a hobby for Nolan, whom essentially did interior upholstery work while he was a wing mechanic at Douglas Aircraft.
When he was laid off in 1983, Nolan decided to enter the profession full time. He took out a bank loan, (back when interest rates hovered around 17 per cent), and “worked for gas money the first couple of years.”
Diamond Trim has since grown to a 3,000-square-foot facility, (with 4,000 square feet of storage space) stocked with leathers and fabrics of all kinds, skivers and numerous different sewing machines.
How extravagant is Diamond Trim’s upholstery stock?
If one is so inclined, one can have his seats upholstered in crocodile hide. If one wishes to peer into his armrest and comb his hair at a red light, Diamond Trim will provide metallic leather with a mirror finish.
While Nolan and his colleagues are able to cater to the conspicuous consumer, their approach to each customer is down to earth.
“When it comes to a stock interior, you have to be straightforward,” Nolan explains. “The aim is to make everything new, but not to destroy the integrity of the original design.”
When it comes to a custom interior, however, “my job is to get inside their head, communicate with them and find out exactly what they’re expecting of me.”
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance has been the world’s most high-end auto show for the past 62 years. In 2011, the headline vehicle was a 1934 Voisin C-25 Aerodyne.
Don’t be ashamed if you’ve never heard of it. Unless you’re someone who has a multi-million dollar chequing account somewhere that you forgot all about, chances are you never have.
Then there’s the one with the “Wasaga Beach” destination; the individual who wants to go somewhere in style, but actually wants to drive there.
Still, Nolan says there are even limitations to a custom job. “It’s easy to overdo an interior,” he cautions. “The key is a clean look with laser-straight stitching and quality leathers, wools and canvasses.”
Also, when working on a custom prototype vehicle, the Diamond Trim staff have to sometimes contend with automotive engineers and designers whose vision outweighs their common sense.
“Everybody, whether they be an engineer or a designer, should have to work in a shop for two years to qualify,” figures Nolan. The Diamond Trim team has been in the final stages of an elaborate prototype restoration when hit with last-minute design changes.
“The auto show schedules don’t change,” Nolan points out, “but the window of opportunity gets smaller for us.”
It can certainly be nerve wracking, considering it’s not uncommon for these cars to cost in excess of $3 million.
Still, there’s an upside to the aggravation. Working in the highest end of any business usually means you’re working for people whose finances are relatively unaffected by the ebb and flow of the economy.
“You can say it’s recession proof,” concludes Nolan.
Written by Dan Pelton