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One and all Connolly leather thread for Vintage Ferrari

Discussion in 'Vintage (thru 365 GTC4)' started by BBBBBBB, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. BBBBBBB

    BBBBBBB Formula Junior

    Jun 6, 2015
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    Ben
    #1 BBBBBBB, Oct 16, 2015
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    Hi,
    just making a short summary of the Connolly leather suppliers actually known to me.

    I.

    Short summary of the history:

    The original Connolly company owned by the Connolly family stopped trading a couple of years ago (think it was around the year 2002 if memory is right).

    In the meantime there was no more supply of Connolly hides by a Connolly family owned company for a couple of years.

    In that period of time there were some suppliers (it seems they are and have not been manufacturers, but traders) that claimed to sell hides similar or matching the genuine Connolly quality.

    Significant old genuine Connolly stock for sale has not been known to me since many years.

    I do remember two companies that have been in the market and they still are, please add more if to your knowledge.

    a)

    H.V.L.

    HVL - Exclusive Italian Interiors

    b)

    UK HIDE

    Connolly - UK Hide

    II.

    Short summary of the actual situation:

    It was recently reported by Bobj in his fantastic thread *250 Cabriolet 1697GT*

    the Connolly family to having returned to the market.

    The above mentioned company H.V.L still offering their own "Connolly matching" hides whereas UK HIDE again supplies "Connolly family" hides.

    a)

    CONNOLLY

    Present - CONNOLLY

    They inform:

    "Fourth generation Jonathan Connolly continues to uphold the brand, manufacturing Connolly leather of the exceptional and unique quality it has always been recognised for. With over 30 years in the industry, Jonathan Connolly continues to supply exclusive, high quality leather to the motor, aviation, yachting and furnishing industries. The focus is very much on designing the leather for the individual customers' requirements, producing authentic hide for restoration work and, in many cases, developing unique colours and textures for individual projects.

    Throughout the golden years of the motor industry, Connolly Vaumol™ covered the interiors of the Grand Marques. Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Jaguar, as well as many others, chose Connolly Vaumol™. From these manufacturers' very first cars, the distinctive quality of Connolly Vaumol™ made it the only choice. Connolly Vaumol was used in many of the most famous public buildings such as the Houses of Lords and Commons and graced the interiors of many famous liners.

    To this day, Connolly continue to manufacture using these unique production and finishing processes all developed entirely in house. Connolly Vaumol™ is now exactly what it was then. Like all well thought out, well designed products, it has stood the test of time like so many vintage and classic cars it graces.

    Connolly Vaumol™'s unique combination of patina, aroma and natural grain make it the first choice. The natural origins of Connolly Vaumol™ are individual, visible hallmarks which give the hides subtle character and depth. The Connolly Vaumol™ dressing and finish enhances the distinctive natural characteristics of the traditionally undyed leather. The Luxan version, where the grain is subtly enhanced by the use of a second colour giving the hide added depth, is similarly unique.

    We have created a range of the most popular colours from the period up to 1970 using our original recipes from our unique archive.

    There are many other colours of Vaumol™ in our archive that dates back to 1878 and details of these are available on request."


    b)

    The above mentioned company H.V.L is actually stating on their website:

    "Because the 100% original quality of work and materials which HVL Exclusive Italian Interiors presents to its respected Ferrari customers from all over the world, HVL started up its own leather line.

    It was a difficult procedure but after a long time HVL finally succeeded. We are thrilled with the superb results and so are our clients. Even Ferrari Classiche is convinced now about this original classic looking Leather and started working with it in January 2009.

    The HVL Class leather can be made in every color, thickness, hardness, kind of painting (only the top or in a dye vat) in the old Vaumol crushed grain, old Vaumol luxan grain and on the old Autolux way."

    c)

    The above mentioned company UK HIDE is actually stating on their website:

    "Vaumol‘s TM unique combination of patina, aroma and natural grain made it the first choice, particularly when the grain was subtly enhanced by the use of a second colour, as in the Luxan version.

    Once the company ceased trading it has been a huge challenge for car restorers to obtain original Connolly leather, but we are delighted to be able to resolve that challenge. The range has been recreated using original Connolly recipes from the archive.

    The colours shown are available in stock at all times. Through our bespoke service we can supply hundreds of original colours and match additional shades and antique finishes to your exact specifications.

    We hold large stocks of Connolly Vaumol leather, as well as being able to obtain additional Connolly hides to original specification colours. We are able to do this through our unique links with members of the Connolly family.

    We can also offer Autocalf and Autolux – our own high quality leathers – in original Connolly colours."

    III

    Short summary of the brand names of Connolly leather:

    * Autocalf
    * Autolux
    * Vaumol

    IV

    This thread is not commercial and refers to my today knowledge only. I do not want to favour any of the mentioned companies.

    V

    Please contribute and share:

    Please correct anything eventually wrong.
    Please update the suppliers data if necessary.
    Please add more suppliers if to your knowledge.
    Please share your experience with the suppliers.
    Please share pictures of the hides that you have received.
    Please share pictures of the cars interiors made using Connolly style, Connolly matching and Connolly family made hides.
    Please share your experience with the companies that used Connolly style, Connolly matching and Connolly family made hides in your car/s.
    Please share colour codes and corresponding pictures.
    Please share anything else related to this thread.

    Have fun
    et surtout n'oubliez pas de prendre beaucoup du plaisir
    Carissimi saluti
    Ben
     
  2. BBBBBBB

    BBBBBBB Formula Junior

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    #2 BBBBBBB, Oct 16, 2015
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  3. BBBBBBB

    BBBBBBB Formula Junior

    Jun 6, 2015
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    Ben
    Here another interesting H.V.L website:

    HVL Class Leather® - HVL Class Leather®

    They inform:

    "Unlike other manufacturers HVL managed to achieve the correct classic leather. The original classic hides had a thickness of approximately 1,3 - 1,4 mm. The leather felt a bit harder than the modern hides and the classic hides called Vaumol were only dyed on top. The later Autolux hides were thinner and dyed throughout. HVL can make it all. Even the smell of HVL Class Leather® is similar to the original. On request we can vat dye our HVL Class Leather® while keeping the original thickness and classic view on top intact. To make HVL Class Leather® we try to find the hides without too many hallmarks because all our customers like to see them but not many customers like to have it in their Ferrari.

    Worldwide, only 3% of all available hides qualify for this kind of use. From this 3% we chose only the best hides for our customers, made of original pure full grain. Before, every classic leather sample number had its own colour and grain. We can supply all of this as well. Whatever the wish of our client is, we can supply it:

    Thickness (on request it is even possible to change thicknesses of HVL Class Leather® in one order)
    Darker pores (HVL Class Classic)
    Dyed on top or dyed throughout
    The correct structure used on the original pure hide

    Many well-respected car factories used this kind of leather in former times, such as: Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, several types of Alfa's, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, Jaguar and many more."

    Carissimi saluti
    Ben
     
  4. BBBBBBB

    BBBBBBB Formula Junior

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    #4 BBBBBBB, Oct 17, 2015
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  5. BBBBBBB

    BBBBBBB Formula Junior

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  6. BBBBBBB

    BBBBBBB Formula Junior

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  7. BBBBBBB

    BBBBBBB Formula Junior

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  8. BBBBBBB

    BBBBBBB Formula Junior

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  9. Fennicus

    Fennicus Formula Junior

    Apr 10, 2015
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    Pekka T.
    Hi Ben,

    Please let me quote you from the other thread, I did not want to mess up anything there.

    So are you sure about that or do you have any factual proof?

    All my Jaguars have always had Connolly Vaumol, except the 1975 XJ6C which I believe had Autolux. I have never before heard of them using Autocalf, although likely very possible on some later cheaper models, the 240 and 340 used "Ambla" which was not leather at all, but all the big Saloons and all the Sports cars I know had Connolly Vaumol in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's and at least to the late/mid 1960's. I do have early 1950' and late 1950's and early 1960's Connolly leather sample booklets, all with Vaumol logo and Vaumol colour codes that I am willing to share. I also have a bunch of later colour samples with genuine original leather pieces, but they do not have the Connolly codes or logos.

    The perfume is great and a big part of the overall experience. ;)

    Please allow me a couple of days to take some photos if you think it is of any value to your thred?

    Cheers,

    Pekka T.
    Fin.
     
  10. pshoejberg

    pshoejberg Formula 3
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    #10 pshoejberg, Oct 17, 2015
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  11. BBBBBBB

    BBBBBBB Formula Junior

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    #11 BBBBBBB, Oct 17, 2015
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    Pekka,

    thanks very much for your info.

    Yes i better should have stated more precisely in the other thread and as you say i didnt want to mess it up with details that were eventually made to Hi-jack Bobj's 250 Cabriolet 1697GT thread...

    Therefore i started this new Connolly leather thread for all of us to have the dedicated space for all Connolly related things for everybody to participate, share and enjoy.

    To my knowledge i fully agree the mentioned Vintage cars obviously did not use Autocalf.

    I do not want to say Autocalf to being bad, it is just inferior quality compared to Autolux etc.

    If memory is right 70ies XJ6C should have Autolux as you state, as well as XJ12C and XJS.

    The younger they are (70ies, 80ies, 90ies Jaguar) we see enhanced use of Autocalf (for the seating surface) and even Ambla for the sides of the seats and other items.

    In that period Daimler often were in Autolux, later Autolux and Ambla (seating surface and sides of the seats) whereas full Autolux (without Ambla) was sometime even optionally (cost option).

    Practically Jaguar went down the hill Vaumol/Autolux/Autocalf (even partially using Ambla) during the mentioned period until the 90ies.

    Great stunning news !

    Please share as much pictures and data as you have and get.

    I hope and think we all can get this thread to be an important source of Connolly and Connolly related knowledge, data, pictures, etc. etc.

    Unfortunately we cannot share the perfume here...

    I really would like to welcome anyboy to feel free to share and participate in this thread, as it is intended to be the one and all Connolly thread for all members of this community.

    Ben
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
     
  12. BBBBBBB

    BBBBBBB Formula Junior

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    #12 BBBBBBB, Oct 17, 2015
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  13. BBBBBBB

    BBBBBBB Formula Junior

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    #13 BBBBBBB, Oct 17, 2015
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    Peter,
    stunning pictures.
    Which year did you order from UK HIDE ?
    Ben
     
  14. BBBBBBB

    BBBBBBB Formula Junior

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    #14 BBBBBBB, Oct 17, 2015
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  15. Lowell

    Lowell Formula Junior
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    Do you know what was in the Mk 1? I would appreciate hearing either way!
     
  16. pshoejberg

    pshoejberg Formula 3
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    August 2013. I don't have the competence to tell the difference between this leather or any other leather other than the thickness. The leather work was done by Luppi......By the way He recommended his own leather "brand" to keep price down and didn't seem much affected by this "Want to have Connolly trend". I guess it's also harder to work in thicker leather and obtain a good result?

    Regards Peter
     
  17. Marcel Massini

    Marcel Massini F1 World Champ
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    Mar 2, 2005
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    Of course it is more difficult and harder (more demanding) to work with thicker (but more correct) leather. Unfortunately many owners and restorers these days chose the cheaper, thinner furniture leather (Poltrona Frau and others), simply because of the price (less $$$). Push your thumb onto the leather and you will find/realize a big difference. Have a look at the old leather samples from the 1950s and 1960s.

    Marcel Massini
     
  18. Fennicus

    Fennicus Formula Junior

    Apr 10, 2015
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    Pekka T.
    Hi,

    Sorry, not in great detail, but the surfaces that were leather, were Connolly Vaumol. The early large Saloons had the seats and armrests all in the same high quality leather. But all door panels, kick panels, under scuttle ect. were done with Rexine those days (impossible to get these days) which is a cellulose based artificial material used for book backs, covers etc. back then. It was mostly replaced later with Ambla, another artificial material, and in E-types and XJ's with vinyl, which is basically PVC either with fabric backing or without it if molded onto pieces like hinge covers etc.

    So Ben is partly right about the "cheap" factor, where R&R/Bentley, Aston Martin and of course Ferrari were using high quality leather throughout the whole interior, Lyons was a master in making his cars feel and look luxurious but make them cheaper. So the sides and backs of the seats in all E-types and all XJ's were trimmed with vinyl, as were the door panels. Only things like the seats, armrests, top of the console, etc. where the driver or passengers could ceel the surface were leather. Everything else was something cheaper. Of course now that is changing as the cost of leather, even genuine Connolly Vaumol, can be insignificant if redoing a complete interior professionally, not to even mention restoring a complete car. So most Jaguars are now a bit "over-restored" as owners have added leather where it originally was not present. Almost all S1 4.2L E-types have now a leather gaiter for the shifter: only a black rubber gaiter came from the factory!

    But it's not a big sin, IMO, also my ex S1 E and the XJ6C I bought from Milan had all door panels and seat backs and sides trimmed in the same high quality leather. But it is good to know that it was not like that originally.

    So I do not know the details 100% but I would make a large bet, that at least on the early MK1's they had the top of the centre console, the top surfaces of the seats and possible armrests in Connolly Vaumol leather, but the sides of the seats, the door panels, the kick panels and the under dash, scuttle panels trimmed with Rexine and later with Ambla. In those days Jaguar only had one production line and the trim shop would have used the same materials for all cars, be it a MKVIII, an XK140 or a MK1. A MK1 expert would know more about the details. MCT in the UK and Georg Dönni in Switzerland know a lot more about the original trim than I do. We can do PM's (I have no problem sharing e-mail) if you want to get contacts or other references reg. the MK1 so we don't sidetrack too much. :)

    I have to admit I was a bit surprised when I bought the 456GT that everyhting, incl. the headliner, the C-pillar trim, the door panels and the center console were indeed trimmed with the rich red Connolly leather. :) but even more surprising was that the roof and sides of even the trunk were all trimmed with the same fine leather! Wow! Now wonder they cost a fortune when new! ;)

    BTW did they use any artificial materials in the classic Ferraris at all, or was everything, incl. the radio console, parcel trays, door and rear quarter panels always done with Connolly Vaumol?

    Maybe another thread is needed for the carpets, if people find that intersting enough, as I have been lead to believe also the wool carpets were Wilton double pile or something like that, and the colouring was not always obvious, sometimes matching the interior, but sometimes matching the exterior (paint) or contrasting. Ferraris seemed to have so many options, I was struck by seeing the original colour swatches for the paint and interior a restorer showed me at VdE this year.

    Cheers,

    Pekka T.
    Fin.

    Ps. Took a couple of pics yesterday, lets see if I manage to get them uploaded somehow...
     
  19. PG1964

    PG1964 Formula Junior

    Nov 2, 2010
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    Torino, Italy
    Just my 2 cents opinion because i'm an automotive historian.
    Ben, are you talking here about the leather exclusively produced for '60s Ferraris?
    If yes, we can consider the coachbuilder: PF used thicker leather usually, as Massini said before, but the thickness isn't the main problem as the grain and the finishing are. Today we see too many convertibles at the concourses fitted with the anti-UV finishing leathers, a technology not availalble in the '60s.
    Moreover the leather used for a 250GTL or a 275GTB was different in respect to which used for a 500 superfast.
    So the problem, for me, isn't not the original Connolly or the "Connolly type" leather, but it's the tanning and the finishing procedures.
     
  20. Enigma Racing

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    +1

    The original Connolly company had their own tannery in Canterbury Kent where their processing, chemicals and choice of hide gave their leather it's unique quality and reputation. Apparently most of the hides used by Connolly's came from Scandinavia, because the quality was better as the cattle spent most of their lives inside to escape bad weather, damage from the barbed wire and the warble fly (small grubs which burrow their way through hides).

    What is now referred to as Connolly may be excellent but they are "original" in name only
     
  21. Enigma Racing

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    The Leather-Bound World of Connolly


    IN THE late 150s and early '60s, almost 85% of the hides processed by Connolly Bros. (Curriers) Ltd., the household name in the leather industry, were sold to the motor industry, but today this has dropped to 60 to 65% of their 10,000 hide weekly throughput, a reflection on the increasing use of synthetics in car upholstery. Man's oldest material, and the most natural material he can place near his skin, has fallen from favour in the lower echelons of the car market, where the products of ICI, Courtaulds et al. are cheaper and easier to churn out in the demands called upon by extensive mass production.

    The situation does not worry Connolly's, who felt that they were in a precarious position in those happy motor industry days of yesteryear; a sudden change in demand could have smashed all the eggs in that one basket. Today, the fortunately gradual reduction in demand has been well-cushioned by increasing business from furniture manufacturers and many other outlets to give them a far safer spread should any market shrink overnight in these precarious times. This 100% family-owned company, now in its 97th year, remains proud of its continued connections with the motor industry, with which it has grown up in parallel and must be pleased to see that the status of leather in the motor car has, if anything, improved, for its use today is concentrated upon the luxury car market. The continued use of Connolly leather by Rolls-Royce, still the epitome of luxurious comfort, confirms that there is no substitute for the real thing: the hide from seven to nine cows ensures the interior opulence of each of their cars. Jaguar, Jensen, Aston Martin, are all users of Connolly leather in whole or in part, as are some smaller specialists, though it is disappointing to hear that the Club-like interiors of the Solihull Rovers are gradually losing their traditional smell of leather-upholstered quality in favour of synthetics.

    A chance meeting at the Motor Show with Tony Hussey, one of the third generation family men now running Connolly's (he through his mother's side of the family) led to an opportunity to follow the path of the hides from their entry in the tanned state to Connolly's factory alongside the River Wandle (no, not Womble!) in Wimbledon to their despatch in fully-finished form from the company's head office and warehouse in Chalton Street, London NW1, between Euston and Sr. Pancras stations. At Chalton Street too is based the restoration unit under Ken Cole, of particular interest to many of our readers, whether they own a 1905 Darracq, a 1974 Rolls Corniche or a leather-upholstered chair, for leather requires regular and careful husbandry to make the best of its fine qualities.

    Tony Hussey was able to provide me with a potted history of this interesting family firm, which was founded by the brothers Samuel Frederick, formerly a medical student, and John Connolly in Euston Road in 1878. Each had been left £1,000, which they had put into what is believed to have been the first "while-you-wait" shoe repair company, a fact which annoyed their conventional competitors, who retaliated by breaking their windows! They branched into the selling and eventually into the making of harnesses; S.F. used to load a pony and trap full of samples, tour round the South Coast taking orders and then dash. back to the workshop to complete them. This brought the Connollys into contact with the leading coachbuilders, who began to buy hides from them for carriage hoods, wings and dashes. Soon they were employing teams of experts who visited the coachbuilders, Hansom cabs in particular receiving their attention, wetted hides being shrunk on to the bodywork by means of a crude form of "dope". From exterior leatherwork, Connolly expanded into upholstery for horse-drawn vehicles and railway carriages. When coachbuilders turned their attention to "horseless carriages", so too did the Connollys, but it was Frederick Ignatius, the eldest of S.F.'s four sons, who joined the firm in 1912, who pushed them properly into the world of the motor car. Now nearly 80, Fred Connolly was not only a friend and contemporary of such pioneers as Herbert Austin, William Morris, Starley, Wilks and Sir William Lyons, but in many ways an architect of the motor industry as a neutral confidante of them all. Elected to the Council of the SMM and T in 1930, he was the Society's Treasurer in 1936 and President from 1948 to 1950. As Chairman and Managing Director until his retirement a few years ago his speciality was sales. The other three brothers are still in harness, backed up by the younger generation: Joseph Eugene (Gene), now 77, looks after production and buying; Edward Philip (74), a Past-Master of the Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers, a Past-President of the Institute df British Carriage and Automobile Manufacturers and a Past-President, Union Europeenne de la Carrosserie, concentrates on costing; and Wilfred (71), described as "an extraordinarily gifted engineer" looks after the technical side of production.

    Tim Connolly, son of Wilfred, is the current Chairman and Managing Director and takes care of production and sales to the motor industry. My guide, Tony Hussey, son of the four brothers' sister, is responsible for sales to the furniture trade (as was his father before him), public relations, advertising, architects and interior decorators. David Connolly, son of Eddie, is on the export and financial side of the business, while young Joseph Connolly, son of Gene, is currently following the family tradition of being trained in every aspect of the business, working from machine to machine. It is a firm which has thrived and continues to thrive on nepotism and there is every sign that the "clogs to riches and riches to clogs in three generations" saying will not come true in this case!

    Tony Hussey, a motor racing fanatic, transported me from Chalfont Street to the Wimbledon factories in his Triumph Dolomite Sprint, to which he is devoted and which is beautifully upholstered in Connolly leather rather than the standard Bri-nylon cord, of course, thus providing him with an opportunity to demonstrate and explain the advantages of leather. (Tim Connolly too is a satisfied Triumph owner, in his case a 2.5PI, though the company's acquisition of a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow as payment for a bad debt is allowing him to sample the ultimate in Connally luxury, at least for the time being.) How do you distinguish leather quickly from some of the exceedingly natural looking modern plastic imitations? Leather warms up instantly to your skin temperature if you hold your hand against it, whereas plastic feels cold initially, takes longer to warm up and doesn't retain warmth so well. Tony admits to having quite liked the Sprint's original Bri-nylon upholstery around town, but disliked it on longer journeys. Leather's major attribute is its ability to breathe, which it does even better than wool. This means not just its permeability to air but its permeability to water vapour, so allowing the absorption of perspiration and warmth. Thus it feels warm in winter and cool in summer, yet doesn't become hot and sticky. On the other hand, whilst it absorbs water vapour it doesn't readily absorb liquid water, so rain will not harm it and a damp cloth can be used to keep it clean. Other advantages are that leather doesn't tear easily; it ages very slowly; if looked after it will last the lifetime of the car, but if it does deteriorate, within reason it can be renovated; it has an attractive appearance; it fits and shapes well for upholstery work; it has a pleasant odour which has become synonymous with comfort, quality and taste.

    Many of Connolly's hides come from Scandinavia where the quality is better because the cattle spend most of their lives inside to escape bad weather. Nor are the Scandinavian hides threatened to the same extent with damage from barbed wire or warble fly, those horrible little grubs which burrow their way through the hides. Size largely depends on the age of the cow—the older they get the bigger they grow but the more damaged they get—though the average is 45-50 square feet. The largest hides come from Southern Germany and the largest ever seen by Connolly was a vast 120 sq. ft.

    From the abattoir, where the cattle are skinned, the hides pass to the hide market or a fellmonger, from where they are bought by the tanner. From the tanner they pass to the currier, which is where Connolly Bros. come in. Their purpose in life is to prepare and finally finish them before selling them to the leather-using trades. Curiously, the hides are sold by the piece from the abattoir, sold by weight in the hide market, sold by the tanner to the currier by length and finally passed on from the currier by the square foot. At the tannery any remaining flesh is scraped from the hide, soaking in chemicals loosens the hairs at the roots and these are then scraped away, leaving the characteristic leather grain. The tanning process itself, in which the hide is soaked in numerous other chemicals and oils, the mixture depending upon the softness required from the leather in its eventual application (saddlery as distinct from clothing, for instance), is to make the leather last without rotting and to give it some degree of colour fastness as well as to control the softness and feel. At the tannery too the hides are split, the top part being the leather hide as we know it and the bottom the suede, or "split", as it is known in the trade. Connolly's have their own tannery in Canterbury, but buy from other sources too.

    The stiff and dry tanned hides arrive at Wimbledon in seven-foot-long bales of about 25, each of which is given a total of 12 inspections and code-stamped to denote quality, source, date and so on. Very badly damaged ones are rejected—the Connolly "black museum" includes hides peppered with buckshot and others torn to ribbons by other cows' horns. The first process is to soak them in water to make them workable, using a machine designed by Wilf Connolly, which, like the rest of the processes, draws water from the artesian well beneath the factory, a geological accident which doesn't, however, absolve Connolly from paying water rates! Machines with fast-revolving, blade-covered drums trim the hides to a consistent thickness. This varies, upholsterers demanding usually 1¾ mm, thickness while some leather goods manufacturers require 3 to 4 mm. and clothing manufacturers as little as 0.8mm. Waste shavings are sold to a fertiliser manufacturer.

    The hides receive a secondary tanning in a battery of huge vats revolving like fairground wheels. Hides for the garment trade are dyed right through in the same process, because the edges of the leather will be exposed in the clothing. Afterwards most of the water is squeezed out in huge mangles before the critical stretching and drying process. Stretching is necessary to control the amount of natural stretch to be left in the leather: too much and the upholstery leather will bag and "puddle" after little use; too little and trimming will be made almost impossible. Since the leather industry began, stretching has been done manually on a rack and still is to some extent, but at last an Italian has invented a hydraulically operated rack. Drying used to be carried out in the open air. Today the hides are dried gently by big fans blowing through widely spaced stacks of racks or, in the case of the new hydraulic rack system, by being passed through a huge "oven" in which the temperature is that of a hot summer's day, too much heat causing the leather to harden.

    Then follows the second major inspection in which hides are selected to meet individual customer's needs. Constituency of the leather doesn't vary: the difference in quality lies in the graining and in the amount of damage on the surface of the hide. Rolls-Royce insist on nothing but the best, while Some of the furniture trade too is very particular because of the large, continuous areas to be covered by one hide. Surface marks, so long as the scars are healed before slaughter, are of no detriment to strength and increasingly in the furniture trade, growth marks, rib marks, wire marks and grain and colour variations are welcomed because they ensure that the leather looks natural, not like plastic roiled off a machine. Hides which are too badly marked have their outer surface skimmed off and artificial grain embossed by hydraulic presses.

    The Connolly despatch department is full of multi-coloured hues, a far cry from the days before 1927 when colours were limited to brown, tan, red, green and blue. In that year the pioneering Connollys devised a revolutionary new finish which made hides available in the whole spectrum of colours.

    The contents of the finish remain a well-kept secret: a long row of rollers mangles up the solid pigments which are subsequently mixed with some sort of cellulose liquid. Colours can be mixed to order, even for one-off restoration jobs, though the colours which are standardised by the car manufacturers are stored in rows of dustbin-like drums. This Connolly finish needs to be something quite special: it has to be able to breathe; it must allow the natural grain to show through; it Must be flexible enough to withstand the rigours of use; and it must be fairly waterproof. Tony Hussey feels that it is a great pity that any finish at all has to be put on leather as in its fully tanned but unfinished state it feels and looks superb. Unfortunately in that condition it is absorbent, can be affected by strong light and will soon get scruffy and dirty. Notably absent from the colours is pure white, vvhich Connolly can, but refuse to, do, for this finish is susceptible to premature discoloration. If a Rolls-Royce customer demanded white upholstery, Rolls would have to obtain it from a different source, but he shouldn't be surprised at early deterioration. The most popular Rolls colour seems to be Magnolia.

    Firstly a base coat of the chosen colour is sprayed on the hide in an automatic spray booth, front which it is fed through a dryer. A special roller machine then massages the leather to put back the suppleness before the final finish is applied in a huge, new, fully automated spray plant and oven, which looks more like the spraying oven in a car factory. Finally car and upholstery hides are piled into another battery of "fairground wheel" rotating drums, this time in the dry state, to be pummelled and rolled amongst brass and wooden knobs to return the natural suppleness to the hide and "crush up" the grain. Car hides thus treated are known as Vaumol and upholstery hides as Wandle. For most hides this is the final process, except for final inspection and the measuring of area for pricing either by a new light-beam machine or the fascinating old machines which give a reading from mechanical "fingers" reacting to the leather as it is passed through them. Some hides, including some of the Jaguar ones, are given a Luxon antiquing treatment, which involves swabbing a contrasting dye over the proper finish, to highlight the grain. Once the hides have left Chalton Street and found their way into the appropriate leather covered product, care of the leather becomes vital if looks and qualities are to be retained. Which is where Ken Cole's Renovation Unit comes in. He has a team of only nine men caring for upholstery in some of the world's most famous buildings and ships: both Houses of Parliament; the Guildhall; the Livery Hall; London Airport; Queen Elizabeth Hall; the QE2; the Canberra; the Oriana; the Royal Cars; and the National Motor Museum cars, to name but a few. With such pressure of work he is only too pleased to provide the advice and sell the materials for people to renovate their own cars and furniture, though he does offer a complete renovation service for customers who wish it at a very moderate price. A complete Rolls-Bentley renovation is £27, Astons, Jensens, Mercedes, etc. £25, Jaguars, Rover 3.5 and similar and all 2000 and 1300 cars just £23, whilst three-piece suite renovation starts at £25. Such prices would not, of course, include replacing torn sections of leather, which should be done before the renovation process starts. Connolly's will match new hide exactly to the original if the customer sends a small sample or can quote the reference number of the original seats. Cole's men can carry out car renovations on the owner's premises or the seats and trim can be sent to Chalton Street. Serious enquirers can obtain further details of this service from Ken Cole on 01-387 1661.

    For those who wish to carry out their own renovation, the following hints should be followed. Firstly the interior should be cleaned with glycerine soap (or use mild toilet soap, not caustic nor detergent soaps for routine wiping over) or Connolly Concentrated Cleaner on a soft cloth. Use a small nail-brush to remove ingrained dirt. Avoid flooding and wipe off the residue. Whilst still damp, apply a coat of CeeBee hide food, which will restore the original suppleness and nourish the fibres. Allow this to be absorbed for 24 hours, after which any surplus should be wiped off and the result should be a nicely-polished surface. If the original colouring has worn away, new lacquer can be applied, obtained direct from Connolly's by sending a sample or reference number as above. This should be swabbed on evenly and sparingly using one or two coats. Unfortunately cracked or torn leather, caused by the cracking of the foam-rubber base, would have to be replaced, a fact which annoys Ken Cole, who says that this could be avoided if manufacturers would only cover the foam with linen before stitching on the leather upholstery, as they have been advised. Officially new hides are not sold to private individuals, but Connolly admit to being very sympathetic to vintage enthusiasts engaged in restoration, of whom they have a constant stream. Average hides cost £20 to £25 each. This is the sort of service one would expect from such a charming family firm which has supported our motor industry since it began.
     
  22. Marcel Massini

    Marcel Massini F1 World Champ
    Honorary

    Mar 2, 2005
    12,540
    I agree with that and yes, of course, I should/could have also mentioned the grain and the finish.
    As for Lussos or 275 GTB's, yes, of course, different than on a 500 Superfast, generally (as a "rule") most Scaglietti bodied Ferraris were overall of a slightly lesser quality (fit, finish, materials used), than the coachbuilt and Pininfarina built cars. Scaglietti generally is more artisanal than the more industrialised and more professional Pininfarina stuff. This is not just panel gaps, overall fitting and build quality, also the choice of materials.

    Marcel Massini
     
  23. BBBBBBB

    BBBBBBB Formula Junior

    Jun 6, 2015
    345
    Full Name:
    Ben
    #24 BBBBBBB, Oct 18, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
  24. BBBBBBB

    BBBBBBB Formula Junior

    Jun 6, 2015
    345
    Full Name:
    Ben
    #25 BBBBBBB, Oct 18, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2015
    Caro PG,
    thanks very much for your post. We certainly need your input here !

    The thread was made mainly for Connolly leather and Connolly similar and matching leathers for Vintage Ferrari. This Chat classifies Vintage Ferrari "thru 365 GTC4" thus from the very start until 1973.

    I personally today (2015) would say newer cars to be Vintage Ferrari as well, just thinking of 512BB and others.

    On the other hand this Chat has made the above mentioned definition some time ago and newer cars have their own categories.

    Please let me come back soon again to the question of the after 1973 cars, i personally would like us to remain in Vintage Ferrari section for some reasons.

    The original Connolly company certainly produced different qualities during the period. Each hide is slightly different being a natural product.

    Connolly at its best times produced fantastic Autolux/Vaumol hides. I would not say they all were that and this was the reason i made the very short "Autocalf" comment regarding Jaguar in the other thread.


    The original Connolly factory changed the production technics due to some reasons during the decades which is something we will surely need to analyze as well.

    I think the natural skin is very important and then the tanning and the finishing as you say. I personally agree it is today not the question to go for the Connolly family hides only if there are other companies with eventualy similar, matching or better quality (obviously not Connolly branded).


    Please let us all share the manifold experience and knowledge regarding Connolly leather and every other similar and / or matching and / or even better leather.

    Ben
     

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