FROM HIS VERY beginnings in the family automotive business in Newcastle in 1978 Paul Lukes has always held a strong interest in British cars.
Today, as the proprietor of the Paradise Garage in Sydney along with wife Clare, Paul specialises in the Jaguar marque with the service, maintenance and restoration of all models. After building up this aspect of the business over the last 27 years a more recent development has been the manufacture of legacy models of Jaguar’s iconic C-Type, D-Type and XK-SS sports cars.
“We basically import the body shells with axles attached from the U.K., pull them apart, fit locally sourced engines and gearboxes, wire them, get them fully operational and then do paint and trim. Customers have a choice of engines, 3.4-litre, 3.8-litre and 4.2-litre depending on the potency they require,” Lukes said.
He also suggests that most legacy model buyers are interested in competition and last year he personally imported a fully built-up 3.8-litre D-Type for this purpose. “I did some competition driving when I was young and have always wanted to do more. I’ve also purchased a transporter and would like to build up a business like Classic Lotus in the U.K. where we can offer buyers race preparation and support at historic events - it’s very much a growing business and I’ve had strong interest from a group of enthusiasts.” After a recent visit to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and an invitational visit to Jaguar Classic Works in Warwickshire Lukes is very enthusiastic over his new venture.
Certainly the first legacy C-Type underway looks the goods with a superbly crafted alloy body tub and tubular frame built to a high standard and ready to accept a revitalized 3.4-litre engine. Also on the water is a part completed XK-SS, this model considered by many as the most graceful Jaguar ever built. The legacy models join restoration work currently on hand including a customer’s series 1 E-Type roadster to a very high standard.
However, Jaguar is not Paul Lukes’ only marque interest. After five years in the family business he headed overseas in 1983 and spent two years with specialist UK Company Paradise Garage in London looking after Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin as well as Jaguar. Returning in 1985 he took up a position with Jaguar specialist New Rowley Motors at Artarmon.
But as he says, “I’ve always had a particular love of Rolls-Royce and when a position became available at York Motors Rolls-Royce in Sydney I jumped at the chance and actually took a pay cut to take up the opportunity. York Motors was a good fit and I felt very much at home there.”
During the late 80s Rolls-Royce and Bentley were having somewhat of a resurgence with cars like the Bentley Turbo R and Lukes claims he gained invaluable experience on a number of different models.
“From the workshop I progressed to the showroom in William Street, eventually liaising with the R-R factory and I was fortunate to do a number of trips to the factory at Crewe for training.”
However his real passion is actually working on the cars and in 1990 he and Clare made the decision to set up their own Paradise Garage not far from the present site in Rosebery. The decision to open their own specialist service company was brought on by a general dissatisfaction from many owners at that time with the established franchised operations – hence the company motto “Paradise Garage, Heaven for Jaguars, Salvation for Owners.”
Nearly 30 years down the road Paradise Garage is now very well known amongst the Sydney enthusiast fraternity and there’s no lack of service, repair and restoration work while the showroom as always has a small selection of top notch Jaguar, Rolls-Royce and Bentley stock on hand.
Rally preparation for local and international events is forte and Paul has built an enviable reputation with car enthusiasts for the detail and care he puts into his customer cars.
His dedication to the maintenance and care of Rolls-Royce and Bentley models saw him honoured in 2016 with a lifetime achievement award by The Sir Henry Royce Foundation. The award came on the back of his very detailed restoration of a 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom 11 chassis to showroom presentation.
This personal car joined his other period Rolls-Royce, also a 1929 Phantom 11, fitted with a tourer body, and the classic duo give the company showroom a distinct heritage feel.
Both Rolls-Royces have an interesting history – the tourer, one of three cars used by Eddie Connellan of Connellan Airways in Alice Springs and driven extensively in the Northern Territory with a make-shift utility body while the chassis was originally delivered in the UK to Lord Pirie, the Chairman of Harland and Woolf, builders of the ill-fated Titanic ocean liner.
His personal collector cars are diverse in nature and includes a restored 1948 Fargo articulated petrol tanker in full Golden Fleece livery plus two 1955 Armstrong Siddeley station coupes, a 20HP Armstrong Whitworth tourer and a 1951 Bristol 401 coupe, all awaiting restoration.
He also owns the first Jaguar XK150 Coupe to be imported here in 1958 by Bryson Motors, a timewarp unrestored car having covered just 40,000 miles and the release model in Australia at that year’s Melbourne Motor Show. Lukes purchased it from a customer whose father had bought it for his wife back in 1961 However, his favourite driver is his very original 1971 manual V12 E-Type coupe, again in nice condition.
Today, Paradise Garage has a team of 10 working in various facets of the company’s business including several technicians. One automotive engineer, Ralph Appleby, has what is believed to be a unique association with the iconic Rolls-Royce marque worldwide.
Ralph is the thirdgeneration Appleby to work on Rolls-Royce cars over the last 100 years. His grandfather Alf Appleby began as an apprentice to Rolls-Royce Limited in Derby in July 1910. Ralph recalls his grandfather telling him that as a 14-year old, having watched the then new Silver Ghost pass the family home on test each day he decided to seek an apprenticeship with the company.
Alf Appleby was given a workbench alongside another apprentice, Ernest Hives, who would later become company Chairman in 1950. Appleby sailed for a new life in Australia in 1924 joining the N.S.W. Rolls-Royce agents Dalgety and Co. in Sydney, eventually joining another R-R engineer in 1931 to take over the agency, forming Appleby and Ward.
Ralph Appleby recalls that in 1946 Ernest Hives, by then Managing Director of Rolls-Royce visited Alf at Appleby and Ward – ‘and the two of them went down to the pub for a few beers to reminisce about old times back in the early days in Derby.’ Alf Appleby was eventually joined in the business by his son Don, the duo working together for around five years before Alf’s retirement. Post-war, the rapidly growing Rolls-Royce agency was desperately in need of a capital injection and finally absorbed by York Motors in 1947.
The brand went on from strength to strength with Australia becoming the marque’s biggest export market on the back of the burgeoning wool clip.
Ralph Appleby remembers that the arrival of the new smaller Silver Shadow in early 1966 brought a more sophisticated model to market featuring monocoque construction, independent rear suspension and a complex dual-circuit hydraulic braking and selflevelling suspension.
“I joined my father Don at York Motors in 1976 carrying on the family tradition and of course he gave me very detailed training on all aspects of the upper luxury models. One interesting aspect of our family involvement with Rolls-Royce is that all three generations have worked on one particular car for over 90 years.
Ralph still regularly services a 1922 20HP tourer, first purchased by Colonel John Arnott of Arnott’s Biscuit fame and owned by Sydney enthusiast David Davis for over 50 years. “After nearly 1.2 million kilometres it’s still going strong and I look forward to servicing it for many years to come.”
Recent work on a 1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental has entailed a new exhaust system – a late import from the UK this Barker Sports Saloon was first owned by The Hon. Dorothy Paget, a wealthy and somewhat eccentric racehorse owner and in the late 20s and early 30s a major sponsor of the Bentley Boys race team.
Ralph’s depth of knowledge, especially on early Rolls-Royce and Bentley, has been an enormous benefit for the business and Paul and Clare Lukes have nothing but praise for his expertise across the company’s many models including the Rolls-Royce Foundation’s ex-Government 1970 Phantom V Saloon which is maintained by the company.
Quite clearly, as the advertising suggests, sending your car to Paradise has many benefits.