The Luxury Channel finds out how Hemmels rebuild classic Mercedes-Benz vehicles for luxury lovers around the world, including one previously owned by Cardiff-born Dame Shirley Bassey….
It’s not often that “unique” actually means “unique,” but that’s the case with Hemmels in Cardiff, a company that painstakingly and forensically rebuilds some of the most beautiful cars ever produced, for a global audience of the rich and famous.
Hemmels was set up in 2016 and now employs 50 people with both the specialist skills and the affection for restoring classic Mercedes models. The range is limited to the 190 SL, which costs an entry level £250,000; the 280 SL, known affectionately as the “Pagoda” because of its shape; and the 300 SL, whose Gullwing version can achieve a price of £1.4 million, a value appreciated by classic car lovers worldwide. The company turns out no more than 40 vehicles each year.
Cars of up to 60 years old are brought in and completely stripped, before the parts are catalogued, cleaned and restored, albeit mainly replaced, using parts sourced directly from Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Stuttgart – coincidentally Cardiff’s twin city – along with other luxury items, such as fine quality leather for the cars’ interiors, in a process that can take 52 weeks.
The work demands high levels of craftsmanship and expertise, but as Hemmels’ Head of Marketing, Iain Wood, explains: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the talent we’ve found locally – skilled workers who are making unique, outstanding products. We’ve also had the backing of Welsh Government’s apprenticeship schemes, and currently have seven strong apprentices working with us.”
In August, the team at Hemmels start production of their first electric version, and it is testimony to their relationship with Mercedes-Benz that one of their vehicles, a 1968 280 SL “Pagoda” now has pride of place at Mercedes-Benz World in Brooklands, Surrey.
Amongst the owners of the 300 SL over the years are Sophia Loren and Clark Gable, and the smaller, sporty 190 SL has been enjoyed by the likes of Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly. Hemmels is currently restoring a 190 SL, previously owned by Cardiff-born Dame Shirley Bassey, having re-imported the car from the USA.
For more information, go to www.hemmels.com.