PHOTOGRAPHY & WORDS: Tom Horna
There is no doubt that for many of us, our passion for cars is deeply rooted in our childhood and the cars we interacted with when we were young. In Nathaniel Warth’s case, that passion turned into a lifestyle and a classic car boutique style business – ‘Old Beginnings England’.
Nathaniel was exposed to cars from his early days and influenced by both his father and grandfather. Worth mentioning that his grandfather was importing very rare cars such as Delahaye 135 or Mercedes SSK into the UK. Nathaniel’s childhood memories and automotive heroes are the cars from the late 80’s and early 90’s, therefore, cars like Lancia Delta Integrale, VW Golf MK2 or that period BMW’s were the inspiration when he bought his first few cars. The trick here is that they were all bought on a budget and most of them needed some work and fast forward some years later Nathaniel now has a collection of more than ten modern classics.
Over the years he’s bought and sold many cars and all of them had been in one way or another restored, modified or upgraded to Nathaniel’s liking. Bringing any of the cars out usually ended up in conversations with by-passers expressing their admiration and asking who had worked on them. The organic timeline of events led to forming ‘Old Beginnings England’ – light restoration, customisation, detailing and wheel refurbishment based in Leamington Spa, England.
I spent an afternoon talking to Nathaniel and listening to his story and naturally taking one of his cars out for a spin.
What was Your first car ever?
My first car was a B-reg Ford Escort XR3 Cabriolet. I somehow at the age of 14 or 15 managed to swap a petrol remote control car that I’d had for Christmas from my dad the previous year. The escort was terrible but I loved it at the time! It didn’t run, the doors wouldn’t lock, it had a huge crack in the windscreen, the series 1 RS Turbo body kit was hanging off and the roof would let in rain leaving huge puddles in the rear footwells. The car was a Subaru blue kind of colour with very badly curbed black alloy wheels. Myself, my sister and two cousins pushed it all the way home after youth club one evening. Then my friends and I would sit in it playing music and reading Revs or Max Power magazines. I later swapped the escort for my very first Mk2 Golf GTi.
How did you get into classic cars?
It was all because of my old man; he has always had a ‘thing’ for classic, mostly Italian cars. My dad’s daily driver for many years was a Lancia Delta Intergrale HF Turbo, I still remember so many little details about the car from the Pirelli P6000 tyres, the jazzy multicoloured stitching on the Recaro seats, the green lights on his alpine stereo and even the sound of the alarm when locking and unlocking it. We spent a lot of time going to garages and sorting bits on that car over the years. I would often spend time at Italian car specialists where I would snoop about and sit in Ferrari 400s waiting for him to be finished. I loved the ‘Grale’ very much. Prior to that, I was carted around Coventry and London in Alfa Romeos, Fiats, Rolls Royce’s, Aston Martin’s and so on. My late grandad ‘John Warth’ was also a big classic car lover and when he passed away, ‘Classic & Sports Car Magazine’ Oct ‘86 featured him to pay their respects for him being responsible for bringing some of the most exotic cars to light and bringing them into the UK such as: Delahayes, Rolls Royce’s, SSK Mercedes, Napiers, Hispano-Suizas, Packards, etc. I guess the spark has been passed on and the classic cars are forever jumping in price. I’m now trying to give my son a head start by collating some modern classics and turning them into nice examples. Whether he keeps them or sells them is up to him but I see no harm in buying cars providing I have the room to store them.
Your first classic and why/what’s the story behind it?
After swapping the Escort for a Mk2 Golf GTi ‘small bumper’, I had caught the Mk2 bug, so when I was old enough to drive I searched for my first modern classic car. It was a 1989 Mk2 Golf GTI 8v it was a 3-door ‘big bumper’ model finished in Schwartz black with a rainbow interior. I paid a thousand pounds for it and would be extremely lucky to ever find one as clean for that kind of money these days. Unfortunately, I wrote the car off and it was broken for spares. It was then replaced with Mk2 Golf GTI Edition One which I still own today.
You have quite a few cars in your collection. Can you list them for us?
My current collection is probably larger than it should be but I love them all and they won’t be going anywhere soon. They are: Abarth 500c (my daily car), Mercedes w123 (OBE parts wagon), BMW 518i e28, BMW M535i e28, BMW 628csi e24, BMW 320i e21 , BMW 325i e30 cab, BMW 525iX e34 touring, Mk1 golf GTi tin top, Mk2 golf GTi typ19, Mk2 golf GTi edition one and last but not least VW t25 camper.
I understand that your passion for cars turned into something more and now you offer services to classic car owners. Tell us more about your brand ‘Old Beginnings England’?
Old Beginnings England (OBE) is an automotive boutique style classic car business offering light restoration work, customisation, detailing, wheel refurbishing and soon vehicle recovery. It is also a lifestyle platform which allows me to display and share my creativity and work carried out on cars be it my own or my clients’. All my cars are also available for bookings for TV, video work and/or photo shoots.
OBE isn’t about showboating or lavish lifestyles, just everyday people with a passion and a vision about making something out of nothing. Kind of like the café-racer ton-up scene; having no money for sports bikes they would simply create their own road rippers: tuning, cutting exhausts, pulling off unwanted parts to shed weight and make them sportier and more streamline. That’s passion, that’s creativity and that’s what I want OBE to be. All of the cars and random parts I have collated over the years all started with a fairly low budget and a bigger picture in my mind. I have to admit that I was a bit shocked and excited when you ‘#DriveClassics’ approached me and asked for an interview, especially when the classic car scene is centered predominantly around high-end classics and people who like to wear Corduroy!
You’ve got many cars but being a BMW 635Csi owner, your customised black BMW 518i drew my attention the most. What’s the story behind this car?
I bought the car around 5 years ago and paid a grand for it. It has always been pretty clean and well looked after as the previous owner was an old lady who only really ever drove it to the horse races. She had the car from new and I still have her BMW receipt of purchase in the service history. The car currently has 80k on the clock and is still going strong. In the beginning, I just wanted it lowered a little and sat on 635csi metric wheels but that all soon changed.
My uncle Steve had old-school BMW’s when I was a kid and I’ve always just loved that aggressive shark nose front on such a business-like saloon. Surprisingly, when I took the car around to show him he said he had a set of M535i black leather Recaro seats in the shed that had been sat in there for around 7years! The customisations, hours of research and eBay searches all started then to make her the car it is today. It is by no means in mint condition but I think she wears her years honestly and very well.
What’s your favourite bit about owning the 518i?
The car has been off the road for some time now as I have been far too busy with fatherhood and other projects. It’s definitely one car I would be very reluctant to sell and I’m pretty proud of it. Having it out recently has been good and it’s starting to get OBE recognised locally due to the brand stickers on it and it’s a great conversation starter. The way I see it is if you’re a car lover why should you drive a car that anyone else can go and buy? And with that being said, the best thing about owning the e28 is how different it is to other cars you see on the roads today. It has a very unique presence when parked up or rolling down the street and gets nice attention from people of all ages.
What’s your favourite memory with it?
That would have to be a last minute unplanned road trip down to London to see Troumaca perform at KOKOs. I had only recently bought it when my two friends and I decided last minute to head down. We ended up sleeping in it as we were all too tired to drive back up to Coventry after partying hard (haha) it was a good night!
Are there any downsides to the 518?
The worst thing about the e28 would have to be the engine. Being the m10 518i it’s very underpowered for such a big car. I’ve contemplated swapping the engine for a bigger and more powerful motor but I just can’t bring myself to spoil the originality of the car and all of the history it has. Being the little M10 engine there are endless amounts of performance upgrades out there as most m10s were fitted in 2002s, e21s and the m10 was the benchmark for the e30 m3 engine. I would love to get my hands on a ‘Camden supercharger’ which bolts straight on the m10, giving not a massive power increase but definitely period correct and very cool if you ask me. Together with my friend Samuel Cole the founder of ‘Classique Autowerks’ we are on the lookout for one.
Do you work on your car/s?
Yes, myself and a very good friend of mine Ryan Smith do most if not all of the work. When I finished school, I studied vehicle body repair and paint at college. I also had a job at Honda doing welding and fabrication work. I complete all the bodywork and my right-hand man Ryan completes all the mechanical aspects. Ryan is an extremely talented engine builder/mechanic who has worked on some amazing show cars, although he takes no satisfaction in putting his name to anything! If needed I have and recommend specialists I use such as the guys at ‘2spec Historics’ in Warwick they are very knowledgeable and passionate about what they do
What’s your dream car?
How does a car enthusiast possibly answer that!? Haha! I think as an all-around ONE car in my garage it would probably have to be a Singer Porsche 911! Finished in a gloss black with a distressed tan leather interior. Some people have mixed views about it, not all being made by Porsche but I think the guys at Singer who reimagined the 911 did a great job. However, if money was no object I would love a: Lamborghini Miura, Aston Martin DB4, Citroen SM, BMW e9 CSI. My teen dream car though is a BMW e46 M3.