A top trailer maker has come to the aid of TV presenter Matt Baker and his dad as they restore a classic car to its former glory.
Viewers can see Matt working on the American Plymouth car in the third series of the popular family show, Matt Baker: Our Farm in the Dales, to be screened on More 4 this autumn.
Having bought a livestock trailer last year from Ifor Williams Trailers – which has factories in Denbighshire and Flintshire – Matt enlisted them to help transport the shell of the old Plymouth car which he had arranged to be shipped over from a desert in the USA to Felixstowe.
In the new series Matt is seen with the car transporter towing the Plymouth the 300 miles from the Port of Felixstowe back to his parents’ farm in County Durham.
The series starts on Wednesday (October 5) and the episode featuring the trailer will be shown next Wednesday, October 12.
The project to restore the car was not originally part of Matt and his family’s plans when they decided to restructure the Durham Hills farm where the former Blue Peter and The One Show presenter grew up.
He said: “It’s something which we took on board almost accidentally. Our car was an old 1946 Dodge which viewers may remember seeing filmed in the first series of Our Farm in the Dales.
“It was covered in brambles in a field and originally we just wanted to move it out of the way, but as we uncovered it we just fell in love with it again. The more dad and I looked at it and old memories of it being on the road were evoked, the more we wanted to give it a new lease of life.”
Matt recalls his dad picking him up from school in the car, to the envy of his friends.
He said: “It really was something special when it was up and running. In the new series viewers will see us starting to get to work on it as we try to make it gleaming again.”
But the defunct old car will now have some extra threads woven into its fascinating story: “After we got it out from the undergrowth we soon realised it will need an awful lot of work done on it.
“The bodywork is pretty much shot and we decided that instead of replacing the various bits it made more sense to see if we could buy a complete vintage body.
“We went online and found this Plymouth lying forlornly in the desert in Anaconda, Montana. Crazily, we bought it and it’s been on a three-leg trans-Atlantic journey to eventually get to us.
“It’s amazing how emotional and excited I was going down to Felixstowe to pick it up.”
The Ifor Williams Trailers car transporter proved essential for towing the car back to Durham.
Matt said: “I knew we would need equipment fit for purpose and my mind immediately turned to my friends at Ifor Williams because they have been so brilliant in the past. I called them and they unhesitatingly offered to lend us one of their fantastic transporters which was exactly what we needed.”
Matt said the specialised transporter was essential as, even without an engine, the vehicle shell weighs 3000lbs and is a huge 513.45 cubic feet. There are some parts inside which are 100lbs.
He said: “It seems to have had an adventurous past life too. It’s actually got bullet holes in it on the side. Seriously, it conjures up visions of scenes from old gangster movies with Al Pacino. But in reality it’s probably just been used for target practice in the desert. It’s so dry out there that the bodywork is otherwise not in too bad shape.”
Matt and his dad, Mike, 78, have set themselves the ambitious goal of matching the new Plymouth body with their old Dodge inner workings to produce a beautifully restored classic vehicle.
He said: “It will take a lot of work and a lot of time. But viewers can see us making some headway on the project in our new series. There’s still a great deal to do but we’re determined to get the car to the stage where we can maybe take it to a classic car show, certainly give it a chance to shine again.”
The new series of Our Farm in the Dales will also follow up on the account of how Matt’s family are progressing as they continue to make vital changes at his parents’ sheep farm to secure its future for coming generations.
The previous two series screened first on More 4, then repeated on Channel 4, have charted how Matt gave up his role presenting alongside Wales’s Alex Jones on BBC’s The One Show to devote more time to helping his parents after his mum, Janice, was injured. She had to have a knee replacement after some of their pedigree flock of Hampshire Down sheep crashed into her, just as she was preparing for shearing.
Matt, his wife Nicola and their two children, Luke, and Molly, headed north to restock the remote farm that dates back to the 17th century with more suitable breeds to reduce the future upkeep burden on his parents.
The first series saw them using an Ifor Williams Trailers 10’x7’ TA5 livestock trailer to move sheep around the country as they sourced different breeds of sheep for the farm, including Herdwicks, Cheviots, and Black Welsh Mountain shearlings, more self-sufficient in the wintery terrain of the Durham dales.
Matt said: “That first trailer we bought from IWT has been a lifesaver for us. We’ve used it so much with the sheep and for other jobs on the farm. And it’s a joy to tow around, so smooth-running and manoeuvrable. We couldn’t have asked for better.”
Ifor Williams also stepped up to help Matt tow his rickshaw around the UK last year when he completed his famous charity Rickshaw challenge in aid of BBC Children in Need. They donated a bespoke flatbed trailer to transport the McLaren-made rickshaw from place to place during Matt’s fundraising venture.
Rob Small, Head of Sales at Ifor Williams Trailers, said they were always happy to help Matt and his family.
He said: “Matt and his dad’s plan to restore their old Dodge car is hugely exciting. We look forward to seeing it back on the road and are thrilled to be helping make that a possibility.
“When Matt turned to us to support his exciting work with the family farm as they were filming the first series of Our Farm in the Dales we were more than happy to advise and we went on to eagerly follow his progress over the second series. We are now all eagerly looking forward to see what adventures they get up to and challenges they face in the new series.”