To get the most out of your classic car, you might choose to upgrade its performance, reliability, comfort or, indeed, all of the above. At Thornley Kelham we have developed bespoke engineering solutions for our customers that allow them to enjoy modern creature comforts, such as overdrive on a Flaminia, or air-conditioning, Bluetooth telephony or power steering in various models from a Pre-War Rolls-Royce to a DB4 Aston. We have liberated extra performance from classic engines using the latest internal combustion technologies, we have upgraded electrical systems to be as reliable as modern counterparts. Anything you can imagine, we’re confident we can make it happen. So please do contact us today if you have some upgrades for your car in mind.


With modern techniques and technologies, your classic car can be tuned to deliver performance that would have been unthinkable at the time of its original production. Engines can be fuel-injected, rebored or lightly tuned, brakes can be modernised or enlarged and suspension can be honed to deliver a more engaging drive, without compromising comfort.

At Thornley Kelham the range of performance upgrades available allows you to very subtly improve the performance of your car, or to completely transform it for ultimate track focus, depending on your preferences.

Offering one of the most comprehensive engine tuning services in the classic car industry, Thornley Kelham’s own engine works are enhanced by a partnership with Race Techniques Ltd – the UK’s most successful specialist engine builders. For example, at the 2018 Le Mans Classic, three cars – two Invictas and a Lagonda – used Race Techniques engines and boasted the fastest speed of any cars in their class, producing double the output of the original engines.

With more power, it becomes necessary to ensure all other components of the car are suitably upgraded to handle the additional performance, from brakes to suspension and steering. The Thornley Kelham team can advise and deliver on a comprehensive host of upgrades, able to modernise drum brakes, fit modern drilled disc brakes, refresh or improve suspension systems and help with chassis tuning and set-up.


At Thornley Kelham, many of our clients use their cars regularly for cross-continent holidays, classic motorsport meetings and pleasure rallies, confident in the knowledge that their classic car is as reliable as it could possibly be.

With the fitment of modern electrical systems, upgraded starter motors, fettled engines and more, we can help ensure your classic car will start every time and work perfectly in all temperatures and weather conditions.

Whether you choose to complete the gruelling Mille Miglia (1,000 miles over three days) faultlessly, successfully race in the world’s most competitive historic motorsport series’ or simply tackle the daily commute week-in, week-out in your classic car, we’ve got experience in making it happen.

Every car that is completed by us is thoroughly tested over hundreds of miles before being delivered back to its owner, ensuring every last snag, niggle and fault is ironed out.

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Everyone at Thornley Kelham is an advocate for classic cars being used and enjoyed, not just kept and admired. There are, however, some modern comforts that many of us will have become accustomed to that a classic car simply may not have. Our team are experts in incorporating this technology into your classic car in a subtle and reversible way, allowing you to get the most driving time from your pride and joy.

Air Conditioning:

For the balmy days of summer, we can neatly added air-conditioning so you don’t need to think twice about taking your classic car out for a spin.

Power Steering:

It may be that you want the experience of driving a classic car without the contemporary compromises, such as a non-synchromesh gearbox. Requiring drivers to double declutch, some of these units can be tricky to master and tiring if you’re doing a lot of city driving. In most cases, we can upgrade your gearbox to a more usable, synchromesh system, without affecting the authentic feel.

Likewise, your car can be upgraded with subtle power steering systems to take much of the effort out of low-speed manoeuvring, while retaining the all-important engagement and ‘feel’ that classic cars deliver.

Sound System:

We can integrate Bluetooth telephony and modern radio and speaker systems so you can take calls on the go, or listen to music from your mobile phone.



Old, worn out or poor wiring is the single most common cause of breakdown and/or fire in classic cars. We can carry out a full rewire on virtually any car, whether as part of a restoration or a stand alone project – often a priority for safety reasons. Wherever possible we use modern wiring materials but with the correct period coverings – whether several colours or black, cloth or PVC. We also ensure that all connections are soldered properly, using spade connectors rather than crimping terminals (unless appropriate). We have years of experience in carrying out full rewiring, including loom fabrication, on cars as diverse as Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Zagato, Bentley Blower, Bugatti Type 57 (C and S), Lagonda M45, Lancia Dilambda and Rolls Royce Phantom II.

Electrical Upgrades:

Various additional demands are placed on a car’s electrical system today – halogen bulbs (requiring additional relays in the loom), modern sound systems, electric power steering, air conditioning, satnav….all can be accommodated in our rewiring. A sensible upgrade is to replace your old dynamo with a Dynator; effectively a modern alternator but fitted into a housing which looks appropriate. We have fitted these to vintage Bentleys, prewar BMWs, Lancias, Astons and so on. Other sensible modifications include the provision of a battery cut off switch – in a convenient location – and the fitting of a trickle charger socket. No need to return to the garage looking forward to that first drive in weeks (months?) to find a flat battery…

Seat belts: If a classic car was originally manufactured without seat belts before 1965 then it currently does not need to have them fitted. Many cars were manufactured without them prior to new legislation introduced in the UK in 1983 that required passengers to wear seat belts.

However, it is worth noting that no children under the age of three are permitted to travel in a car without seat belts and children over the age of three can travel in the car but are only allowed to sit in the back seats. You may wish to improve your classic’s safety features for peace of mind for you and your family. We can arrange to have any type of seat belt, safety harness or lap belt to be retro fitted to ensure the safest possible ride.

Disc brakes:

Disc brakes offer greater stopping power, which can be particularly helpful on long descents. As they don’t heat the rim, they are less likely to cause tire blowouts and allow for more precise braking, making wheel lockup less likely. We can upgarde your classic to incorporate disc brakes for a safer driving experience.

Roll cages: We can also fit roll cages should you wish to take your car onto the track.