Connolly automotive leather sets precedent


Connolly automotive leather will be used exclusively throughout the ‘European’ range, thanks to a tie up with Jonathan Connolly, building on close historical ties

Thornley Kelham will strengthen its long-term partnership with world-class coachtrimmers O’Rourke, to ensure the peerless quality of its new range of ‘European’ restomod projects. Thornley Kelham has entrusted a number of its award-winning restorations to and will now take a permanent bay within the O’Rourke facility as ‘European’ production begins in earnest. Thornley Kelham has already revealed the Jaguar XK European, joining its existing Lancia Aurelia Outlaw; two concours-quality modified classics with modernized design, engineering and technology.

At Thornley Kelham’s 32,000 sq/ft facility in the Cotswolds, a team of craftsmen complete metalwork, paintwork, engine building and more, able to undertake the majority of works in-house to ensure the highest quality standards throughout. However, the expertise of O’Rourke has ensured it has always been Thornley Kelham’s preferred coachtrimming partner, working to the same impeccable standards and with the same respect for authenticity.

The ‘European’ line-up’s impeccable interiors, reimagined by Thornley Kelham with redesigned layouts, leather-trimmed rollcages and new materials, will be finished by O’Rourke. Intricate stitching and complex leather-lined panels require precise craft, demanding trimmers as experienced as the team at O’Rourke to perfect them. It will represent the finishing touch on a range of cars that must bring together world-class engine-building and chassis experience with decades of top-tier concours-standard restoration expertise and a dedication to ultimate perfection.

The importance of the quality of materials used cannot be understated, hence the partnership with Jonathan Connolly to supply hides from his exclusive range for all ‘European’ models. All of the Aurelia Outlaws have been trimmed in Connolly leather.

O’Rourke’s previous work with Thornley Kelham included a rare one-of-six Lancia Astura Torpedo Sport, bodied by Viotti, which was named “Most Elegant or Special Interior” at the Zoute Concours d´Elegance, and won its class at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. A rare Bizzarrini 3500GT Stradale was also restored by Thornley Kelham and trimmed by the O’Rourke team, winning Octane magazine’s prestigious ‘Restoration of the Year’.

Thornley Kelham very recently revealed the new Jaguar XK European, which builds on the success of the Lancia Aurelia Outlaw. Taking a derelict donor Jaguar XK as its base, the bespoke programme allows customers to transform their car into ‘European’ specification, featuring an all-alloy lightweight body penned by McLaren P1 designer, Paul Howse, and a full range of performance and comfort upgrades and enhancements.

Simon Thornley, co-founder of Thornley Kelham, said: “In the world of restoration and bespoke projects, we know we have a team capable of producing perfection at nearly every stage of the process, from engine-building to deep, mirror-finish paintwork. But the art of coachtrimming requires a specialist with a natural talent. Rorky and his team have been our trusted partners for years, never compromising and always chasing the right solution, not the easiest. They truly understand our business, and they believe in our vision for the ‘European’ line-up; concours-quality work, authentically reimagined in the spirit of the original car.”

Rob O’Rourke, founder of the coachtrimming company commented: “My family of artisans and I are excited and enthusiastic about the challenge of delivering best in class interiors for the new European range of restomods by Thornley Kelham.”

Jonathan Connolly added: “The team at Connolly are very excited to be working with Thornley Kelham on their European bespoke projects range. As always we will strive to produce the most beautiful natural leathers made specifically to each individual client’s tastes. It is always a pleasure to work with customers such as Thornley Kelham who share our passion for the bespoke and individual.”