Classic 'Phoenix' sports car burned in barn fire restored

A classic car enthusiast is back on the road in his beloved vintage motor called Phoenix - five years after it was destroyed in a devastating fire.

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Roger Fountain, 77, rescued the 1934 Riley sports car which was wrecked in a fierce barn blaze.

The retired rally driver loaded the charred and rusted remains onto a trailer and drove it to his home in Sutterton, U.K, where he began an arduous restoration project.

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Amazingly, the chassis survived the fire so Roger built a prototype around it using wood, cardboard and scrap metal.

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Over the next five years, he painstakingly searched out the missing parts needed to completely restore the car back to its former glory.

To celebrate his work, Roger named his pride and joy ‘Phoenix’ in honor of the car’s remarkable transformation.

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Roger, who has no children and lives with his wife of 53-years Penny, said: “It was a real journey and the project has had lots and lots of twists and turns.

“I never thought it would never get there but there were times I thought it may take longer than expected.

“I’m thrilled with the end result and very proud of the work which has gone into it.”

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Roger’s life-long obsession with classic cars led him to put the word around enthusiasts that he was after a restoration project.

In 2015, a friend called him to say a Riley sports car had been in a fire so Roger drove up to have a look for himself.

“I drove 200 miles to inspect the car and it was completely burnt out, with nothing remaining of the body," he said. “I wasn’t put off and returned with a truck and trailer and loaded up the remains.

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“On arriving home I was able to give the charred and rusting pile a closer examination, and it was obvious that the chassis had escaped most of the damage and would make a sound basis for my new project.

“Thus work began, sourcing replacement period parts, designing, repairing, refurbishing and fabricating.

“I was anxious to utilize as many original parts, especially the chassis, to retain the soul of the original car, to maintain its heritage as an example of a golden era of English automotive design.”

In 2018, Roger was stunned to discover the DVLA had classified it as a write-off so technically it no longer existed.

In a bizarre twist, this meant that all surviving parts of the car had to be destroyed to comply with the law.

Roger finally persuaded the DVLA to send an independent insurance engineer to inspect the car who agreed that it could be re-registered.

But the project was almost scrapped in the final two years when Roger suffered a smashed knee and broke his back in a horse-riding accident before being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

He added: “The recovery meant I could only carry out very light duties for some weeks but an offer from a good friend saved the day when he gave his time to keep the project rolling.

“Before the project was completed I again had surgery to eliminate prostate cancer, thankfully successfully.”

Finally, in January this year, Roger was able to take his beloved Phoenix out for a spin with wife Penny, 77.

Roger has now written a book about the remarkable restoration, entitled "Phoenix," which is available on Amazon.

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