Coachlines - March 2024

29.03.24 Junior Warden Mark Broadbent

Restoration of a 1901 Ralli Car

Picture above: The restored Ralli Car

I often find myself having to advise potential customers that the cost of a complete restoration project may well exceed the actual value of the carriage, writes Junior Warden Mark Broadbent. Therefore any added value, such as ‘family heirloom’, can often come into play.

This was no more apparent than in our latest project, when the name of the owner, John Jackett, was the actual name engraved on the hub caps of a finely proportioned Ralli Car, by Jackett Brothers of Swansea.

When Mr Jackett delivered the vehicle to our workshops for me to inspect to discuss its possible restoration, my interest was immediately aroused on noticing the name on the hub caps. John explained how he had inherited the carriage, in rather a poor state and wanted to pass it on to the next generation of his family in perfect condition, with a possibility that it might, perhaps, some day be used.

The carriage was made by John’s Great Grandfather, John Jackett, who moved from Cornwall to Swansea in the late 1800s and set up a coachmaking business with his brother who was a blacksmith. The date stamped on this carriage is 1901.

The Ralli Car became a very popular vehicle for personal transport and general conveyance, and was made in a variety of styles with a variety of types of springing; but all resembled the unique body shape incorporating steam bent curved sides which continued as mud guards over the wheels. Additionally, being of the ‘Dog Cart’ family of carriages, a Ralli Car would incorporate a drop-down tail board and sliding seat. It was considered more of a ‘country vehicle’, but was smart and practical.

This example has an elegant appearance with finer body lines than many.

For those more enthusiastic, the attached link will take to a more detailed picture story of its restoration.

Before the restoration