According to the Federal Offices for Statistics and Roads, around 78,000 classic cars were registered in Switzerland in 2016, of which around 1650 were in the canton of Fribourg. The stock of such cars has been steadily increasing for twenty years. In addition, there are around 130,000 first timers as well as an unknown number of unregistered cars of both age categories waiting in garages and sheds for their rusty end or restoration. If you drive an older model, you don’t need to feel technology has left you within the dust and think that you should donate car to charity California. The industry also suspects investors among customers who prefer to invest their money in classic cars instead of interest-free at banks or in opaque shares.
The exam expert
Contrary to the trend towards older cars, there are fewer and fewer mechanics who can repair and restore such vehicles professionally and faithfully to the original. On the one hand, young automotive mechatronics engineers do not learn anything about old vehicle technologies during their training. Above all, you will learn how electronically controlled devices and interconnected assistance systems work, as well as technologies of the future such as hybrid and electric vehicles.
On the other hand, expert mechanics are gradually “taking their knowledge and skills with them into retirement and into the grave”, as Olivier Piller puts it.
The 47-year-old garagist from Alterswil is an examination expert in the newly created training course to become a vehicle restorer. “By passing on the craft to the next generation, it is saved from oblivion. This is also important because historic vehicles and their technology are part of the cultural heritage,” says Piller.
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Federal Certificate of Competence
The two-year, in-service training was developed by the IG Fahrzeugrestauratoren Schweiz together with the Swiss Automotive Trade Association and the Swiss BodyWork Association. It is aimed at professionals with basic training in vehicle technology and offers three specialisations: automotive engineering, bodywork penglers and car body painters.
The six modules of the continuing education are taught in five cities in German-speaking Switzerland. There, specialist teachers from vocational schools deal with vehicles born between 1946 and 1980. “The further training can be completed with a federal certificate, which was done at the beginning of this year by the first 15 graduates in the field of automotive engineering,” explains Piller.
The One-Man Orchestra
The owner of the Hofmatt garage in Alterswil has been fascinated by classic cars since childhood. “My father had taken over the garage from his father and sold the English car brands Austin and Mini. I pondered and tinkered with them a lot at a young age,” recalls Olivier Piller.
In addition to the workshop of his garage, there are six English and French oldies in a showroom: a three-wheeled Villard born in 1927, two MG From 1956 and 1965 as well as two Triumphs, a Stag from 1976 and a bright red GT6 from 1967. Piller bought this sports car during his apprenticeship. “I earned the money for this as a one-man orchestra,” he says.