Hahn and Woodward Auto Restoration on Perry Highway is nearly done working on the HRG Coupe.
Business co-owner Bill Hahn said the HRG Engineering Co. abandoned the concept after building the first one.
“It was a prototype that never went into production,” Hahn said.
The coupe was the brainchild of Maj. Ted Halford, a former World War I pilot and race car driver.
“He was a bon vivant dude,” Hahn said about Halford's refined taste.
Before Halford could see his pet project reach the mass production stage, he left HRG. Paul Vorbach, one of Hahn's partners, said the remaining HRG owners weren't sold on the viability of the coupe, so they opted to stick with roadsters.
“The other two just didn't have any interest,” Vorbach said.
Since the coupe never went past the prototype stage, Hahn and Vorbach improvised to turn the deteriorated pieces into a working automobile.
The inside of the 1938 HRG Coupe, restored by Hahn and Woodward Auto Restoration, is on display Oct. 3.
JUSTIN GUIDO/BUTLER EAGLE
Along with a handmade brake cable adjustment knob and a tachometer drive, the restoration pros also fabricated a fog light pedestal, headlamp bracket mounts, front friction shocks and sunroof stops.
The coupe was manufactured with a few unique features, including a knob on the floor to adjust the brake lines and turn signal flaps.
The flaps are pressed against the car's body, extending out horizontally.
Among the cars being restored by Hahn & Woodward are a 1962 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso, a 1957 Mercedes 3000 SL Roadster, a 1968 Pontiac GTO and a 1946 Chevrolet Panel Truck.
Hahn and Vorbach were pleased to have the opportunity to restore the only HRG coupe ever made.
“That's such a rare and rewarding thing to do when you're in this business,” Vorbach said.
The engine was rebuilt during the rejuvenation process.
“Whatever was usable, we restored,” Vorbach said.
Peeling the outer layers, the original paint scheme was uncovered.
The engine of the coupe has been restored and helped the vehicle move under its own power for the first time in more than 45 years.
“I was very skeptical of that at first,” Affleck said about the bright hue.
Vorbach said the bright green appears to be patterned after a pendant used by the Royal Flying Corps, England's military air force during World War I.
Between 1935 and 1956, HRG produced a total of 241 vehicles, including the coupe.
Despite the limited production of HRG vehicles, the cars ended up in various countries.
“There are HRGs all around the world,” Hahn said.
More than 220 of the original 241 cars are reportedly still being driven in such varied places as South America and Zimbabwe.
The coupe is the only HRG to be powered by a Triumph engine. The frame was constructed from the chassis of the Halford-Cross Rotary Special race car, which was widened for the coupe body and rechristened as Chassis WT-68.
The rear section was a second series of MG Airline coupe manufactured by Carbodies, which is now known as London Taxi. The fenders and bonnet, the car's folding hood, were unique to HRG.
Another distinction for the coupe is having a 12-volt battery. Most cars had only 6-volt batteries then.
To keep the car's weight down, the interior wasn't designed to be spacious. Entering the driver's side is a careful process, sticking the left leg in before sitting down behind the massive steering wheel.
The right side of the driver is braced against the door.
“It's a very tight fit,” Vorbach said.
Affleck was living in Sheffield, England, during the mid 1960s when he bought the coupe from a college buddy.
The friend had picked up the car from a used car lot. After using it as a sole mode of transportation, the car hit hard times.
The headlight on the one-of-a-kind vehicle.
Affleck's friend asked him to buy the car, so it wouldn't be junked.
“I eventually bought it for a nominal sum,” he said.
However, Affleck couldn't drive the coupe, which was missing valid inspection stickers.
“It was pretty far gone at this point,” he said.
Affleck towed the car to his parents' home, where it sat for another stretch.
He later started to restore the coupe, taking it apart and working on separate pieces.
“I did it completely the wrong way,” Affleck said.
The HRG Owners Association convinced Affleck to have a restoration garage undertake the job.
Affleck kept the car as he relocated multiple times.
“It followed me around a variety of places,” he said.
Eventually, Affleck settled in Allegheny County. A mining engineer by trade, his job took him to Pittsburgh.
Years later, Affleck met Hahn at a car show in Warrendale. They started talking about the coupe. Hahn mentioned having recently read about the manufacturer.
“He (Affleck) said you must be the man for the job,” Hahn said.
Along with some familiarity with HRG, another factor led Affleck to ask Hahn to restore the car.
“He wasn't floored by the state of the car,” Affleck said about Hahn being undaunted by the task.
Following many hours spent by Hahn & Woodward on research and restoration, the coupe moved under its own power for the first time in more than 45 years.
Vorbach said some tweaking needs done before the restoration is complete.
He and Hahn already have taken the coupe to Gasoline Alley at the Indy 500. Vorbach said that trip was appropriate considering the car debuted at the famed Brooklands Race Track in England in 1938.
Affleck sees the restoration as fulfilling a vow to his friend. He intends to sell the car at some point.
“I'm getting older, there will be limited opportunities to drive,” Affleck said.
However, he will enjoy some jaunts in the meantime.
“On back roads, it's a lot of fun to drive,” Affleck said.
He's also pleased with the car's appearance.
“I'm thrilled to bits with the way it turned out,” Affleck said. “It's just a gorgeous little girl.”