3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Dorset Magazine today click here

The Dorset couple renovating classic cars

PUBLISHED: 09:57 03 October 2017

1981 3 ltr SC, looked after by Canford (Josh Barnett | flatoutmag.co.uk ©2017)

1981 3 ltr SC, looked after by Canford (Josh Barnett | flatoutmag.co.uk ©2017)


Valerie Singleton meets a couple whose passion for Porsches created Canford Classics, a business which renovates and restores these iconic cars back to their full glamour

Tucked away on a working farm in Dorset, on the edge of the village of Winterborne Kingston, is an unexpected treasure trove. Inside a collection of renovated farm buildings are some of the most beautiful and iconic cars ever produced. This is where Canford Classics have their business, renovating and restoring Porsches of all marks and dates.

It was here, on a rather damp and overcast morning, that I met the owners, Dr Alan Drayson and his wife Dominique. My aim was to learn a bit more about what is involved in bringing these classic cars back to pristine condition.

The former hay barn, now the build shop, is where most of the work goes on. Lined up inside, in a dazzling range of colours, were cars in varying stages of repair. The first one that caught my eye turned out to be a Le Mans tribute: a 1970 2.2s replica of the one Steve McQueen drove in the film Le Mans.

Alan has been car mad since he was a teenager. “I took my first Beetle to bits and put it back together again when I was just 16,” he tells me proudly. “And I’ve never stopped enjoying working with cars.”

He and Dominique met at an inter-school play and became childhood sweethearts. They’ve been together for 25 years and both followed other careers before Porsches took over their lives. Dominique was in marketing, sales and event management and Alan has a PhD and Masters in Coastal Geology.

In the end Alan’s passion for classic cars won out and soon Dominique joined him to form Canford Classics in 2007, though she admits she’s still learning about all the various models. I could quite understand her confusion. Walking around the build shop with Alan I found it difficult to get the hang of the different marks and features; sometimes this could be down to subtle variations in design, like the duck back or specific wheel hubs, though I did recognise some Targas and Carreras.

The floor above the build shop was packed floor to ceiling with Porsche parts of every description. Some bought in, but many made here in Dorset by Canford’s expert team. One of them, Scott McCurdy, once worked for the Porsche Centre in Bournemouth and now looks after operations and customer communications. Attention to detail is vital to this business and something Alan cares about deeply. Canford even create their own paints because many owners like to stick to the original colour of their Porsche. The room beyond the build shop will soon be the paint room with a spray paint booth.

When it comes to buying a Porsche prices vary enormously. The cheapest I could have driven away with would probably have been a Porsche 911 at around £80,000, or it could have cost me £250,000. Restoration, done properly by experts, can hugely increase a car’s value. For instance, a ‘back to basics’ full restoration on a 1971 Porsche could take up to 15 months and cost about £100,000. But then that car could be sold for about £150,000.

People sometimes come along to Canford Classics just to admire the cars out of interest, their Open Days always attract a lot of visitors and some end up buying. Once they fall under the Porsche spell Alan likes to involve the owners as much as possible. “Many owners come along to watch the progress on a car they’re having done up, and a lot of them are very knowledgeable about their cars,” he tells me.

“I have never restored a car owned by the business that hasn’t sold before it’s been finished. I was recently doing up a car for myself but a customer fell in love with it and now I’m restoring it for him!”

Is there a typical Porsche owner I wondered? Well, it tends to be people who have reached a certain stage in their lives, these cars are not cheap to buy or maintain. They like the Porsche because it has heritage and tradition and yet it’s not flashy or ostentatious. Though Porsche owners tend to be men, Dominique was keen to tell me about a 78-year-old lady who has only just given up her Porsche after 40 years.

With her marketing skills Dominique has some great ideas for Canford and there are plans to introduce Motoratus - a premium clothing and accessories brand inspired by the culture surrounding, owning and driving a Porsche. She also thinks that a glossy coffee table book about their work and the different models would sell well. After all many how many posters of a sleek Porsche have adorned the walls of teenage boys (and girls) over the years? This is just the next step up.

My morning ended with Alan taking me on a couple of fantastic spins round the local lanes, first in the replica Le Mans tribute Porsche and then in a more recent 2013 991 Carerra 4S. Even if I couldn’t get my head around all the model numbers, I could tell the different performance of these two cars.

And if I could have driven away with any car, my favourite had to be the 1968 T/R Porsche in the most stunning shade of tangerine. I didn’t dare ask how much it cost … just in case I was tempted!



The powered wheelchair that has changed the life of a Dorchester youngster - The Wizzybug is specially designed to give mobility to the under 5s. This remarkable powered wheelchair has helped a youngster from Dorchester to actively play with friends and family, as Fiona Cromwell explains


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Dorset visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Dorset staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Dorset account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Friday, July 27, 2018

Martin Clunes and his family have called West Dorset home for over two decades. Here he shares some of their favourite local places

Read more
Monday, July 9, 2018

Calling all self-professed Clunatics! Test your knowledge on Doc Martin with our quiz.

Read more
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Fanny Charles meets some of the residents and businesses owners who are proud to call Dorset’s newest town the place where they work, live and play

Read more
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Donna and Harry Mosley have brought the taste of their world travels to The Paddle in Highcliffe, where brunch and lunch is a deliciously leisurely affair

Read more
Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Here we turn the spotlight on some of our county’s most successful and discover what makes them tick

Read more
Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Human rights lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith has brought the plight of detainees at Guantanomo Bay into the art rooms of local schools

Read more
Friday, March 2, 2018

Rural communities throughout the UK could be eligible to receive funding via the Calor Rural Community Fund from energy provider Calor

Read more
Tuesday, February 27, 2018

His extraordinary physique made Chang Woo Gow famous, but this well educated family man sought escape from the limelight in Boscombe

Read more
Thursday, February 8, 2018

Retired drama teacher turned film director and producer, Rosita Clarke tells us about the ghostly Dorset love story that has just won her an award at an international film festival

Read more
Tuesday, February 6, 2018

We’ve been lucky enough to speak to some of Dorset’s best known over the years. Here’s what they love most about this beautiful county

Read more
Monday, January 29, 2018

A world-renowned explorer, a palaeontologist and futurist, and a butterfly conservator reveal the importance of the past for the future of mankind

Read more
Monday, January 15, 2018

AFC Bournemouth’s Jermain Defoe tells Andy Greeves how having a virtually vegan diet has helped to keep him at the top of his game and why beetroot helps him run faster

Read more
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Would you decorate your home with human bones and old medical instruments? Plenty do, according to one Dorset couple, which piqued Faith Eckersall’s morbid curiosity

Read more
Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The world loves a panto dame. There is nothing more life affirming, ridiculous or, frankly, quintessentially British. And Lee Redmond – Queen Thelma at Weymouth Pavilion’s Sleeping Beauty this Christmas 2017 – is a master of this great, daft art

Read more

Local People

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Fanny Charles meets some of the residents and businesses owners who are proud to call Dorset’s newest town the place where they work, live and play

Read full story »