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Solera workshops: Tapia

[su_dropcap style = »light» size = »2 ″] C [/ su_dropcap] continuing with the tour of the spaces dedicated to the care of eccentric mechanics, we arrived a few dates ago at Talleres Tapia, in the middle of the urban layout of Madrid capital. If until now we had investigated around the universe of the two wheels, first with Riojím and its scooters and later on Martín & Martín and their Ducati racing, now the time has come to visit one of the most solvent workshops in the maintenance, repair and restoration of classic four-wheelers.

Located in the same location on Calle Marqués de Zafra No. 34 since its opening in 1982 and run with its own personality and expertise by José Luis Tapia and with Félix Lozano as the right-hand man and de facto heir to the business itself. and uploaded the MG, Triumph, Jaguar, Morris, Alfa Romeo, Alpine or Maserati from a multitude of Madrid fans and a whole host of classics and sports cars with a variety of fur, from Rolls Royce to SEAT 600.

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Lancia Fulvia, Triumph Spitfire and MG B await Tapia's care (Photo: Gonzalo Bárcena)

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“I started as an apprentice at the age of fourteen,” José Luis tells us, “in 1967 at the Emas Workshops, on Calle Maldonado 54 here in Madrid, and with a fleet of mainly the national mechanics of the moment: SEAT 600, 850, 1500 , Renault 4/4, Dauphine, etc. The following year, 1968, I went to the Packard House, on O'Donnell Street, which was a much more exclusive workshop specialized in sports mechanics and American automobiles, in fact at first they did not admit apprentices but I already entered as an assistant .

And there they did everything: mechanics, electricity, sheet metal, paint, upholstery, trim, and they even had a machine to retread tires and draw wheel patterns. The cars used by Franco on his official trips and part of his escort were also repaired there: Oldsmobile, Packard, Dodge Carnero, Cadillac etc. »

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A traditional painting, far from expiring today (Photo: Gonzalo Bárcena)

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“The Packard House was my true connection to sophisticated mechanics and I was able to learn almost everything there that has served me later in my professional career. They were different workshops and in fact people came from there who later set up their own businesses, such as Julio Gris and others. Then, using the experience gained, I spent a season in which I went from one workshop to another, but already as manager: Delcomóvil, in Fernán González, Talleres Benja, on 23 Ibiza Street, Autoclub Ibérico in Plaza de Castilla and finally I already set up my own workshop on the Paseo de la Dirección, but it was a very small space and far from the center and I returned to Talleres Benja next to the Retiro with a partner. This too was too small due to demand, and in order to expand it, I rented the premises where we are now in 1982 ”.

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Tiny space, and at the same time capital (Photo: Gonzalo Bárcena)

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The old times

Indeed, since 1982, Talleres Tapia has been located at number 34 Paseo del Marqués de Zafra, very close to the Las Ventas bullring. From the same street it is accessed through a curved ramp until reaching the basement where the repair space itself is located, medium in size, with capacity for a dozen cars, with a moat and a small neighboring office. The atmosphere that is breathed when arriving at the work zone is of daily activity, with several raised hoods and tools scattered by a pair of benches. The unmistakable aroma of gasoline permeates the place and the neutral tones in matt gray / white give the workshop a classic air: there is fat, but also noble materials ...

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“From the first moment I specialized in sports mechanics and classics in general because at that time it was a segment with less competition, there were fewer customers but the profitability was higher. I am also a fan of the classics and I have been a member of the Veteran Car Club, the Spanish Association of Sports Classics and I even founded the Autoclub Villa de Madrid. Through the Clubs and the rallies I made myself known, I got in touch with other fans solving problems on the spot and in this way I was expanding the portfolio of my clients. "

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Félix Lozano with Fulvia; he has also won over the years (Photo: Gonzalo Bárcena)

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“Solvent, well-done work and word of mouth did the rest. During all these years the business has been good, with its ups and downs. In recent times there has been a significant downturn, not only due to the issue of the economic crisis but because of the lack of generational change in the direction of the clubs. As there are no activities, few exits and a shortage of rallies, the cars remain in the garages, they do not move and breakdowns, maintenance costs and the consequent fatigue on the part of their owners occur. In the last decade many cars have been sold for these reasons ”.

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In the pit, Félix Lozano, his assistant, puts the finishing touches on an MG TD prepared to suffer the rattle of an ITV, that is, without turn signals or seat belts. The car thus came from origin, although the historical registration allows a series of technical exceptions unthinkable years ago.

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After the transatlantic trip, the TD prepares for another tough test (Photo: Gonzalo Bárcena)

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“There was a time when an ITV station near Madrid exclusively for classic cars was established trying to avoid the general ignorance of the technicians and the terrifying rollers, but it did not last long. Now it seems that the stations are more comprehensive and professional and the administration has also successfully regulated the issue of historical license plates, with some restrictions when it comes to circulating but with greater recognition of their historical and even cultural value and more spaced periodic reviews. , every four years".

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The MG TD starts and goes up the ramp towards the street to allow the framed photograph that illustrates the head of the report. Engine sound is crisp and turgid, so far removed from the anodyne silence of current mechanics. As we cleared the pit space we contemplated some of the cars around: Lancia Fulvia, Triumph Spitfire, Triumph TR6. Mechanics of sports classics that could be classified as popular. Also parked there is the MGB GT "Wood & Pickett" by José Luis Tapia himself; a variant of the early seventies of the classic GT coupé made by the English house with its peculiar rectangular headlights and horizontal lines. A unique specimen ... different.

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MGB GT “Wood & Pickett” (Photo: Gonzalo Bárcena)

The path of succession

José Luis Tapia has mechanics in his DNA; he is a mechanic of race and vocation. He likes it and it shows, but time passes and his retirement is looming on the horizon. Even so, it confirms that the business has an heir, in this case there will be a generational change; it's about Félix Lozano who has worked alongside him at Talleres Tapia for twenty-two years.

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“I had studied Vocational Training in the Mechanics / Automotive branch, I was a third-rate officer and had previously worked in the Renault official service when I entered Talleres Tapia here,” says Félix himself. «I wanted to evolve as a mechanic, not just be a“ parts changer ”but apply my acquired knowledge in the mechanical solutions that the classics demand.

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(Photo: Gonzalo Bárcena)

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I wanted to have "repair capacity" and apply my own initiatives, something that is not normally done in an official service, in which almost everything is compartmentalized and protocolized. When José Luis retires, in three or four years, I will take over the business because I have been here twenty-two, I am a qualified professional and I have a passion, affection and knowledge of the different sports mechanics ”.

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The English green MG TD purrs on the sidewalk of Paseo del Marqués de Zafra under the sign that has been reading since 1982: TALLERES TAPIA. Along with the British two-seater, José Luis Tapia, the veteran teacher, the business handyman, along with Félix Lozano, the budding successor, pose with a certain professional pride ...

Keep up the mechanical tradition!

What do you think?

Edi Clavo

Written by Edi Clavo

EDI CLAVO - Drummer and composer in the Spanish rock group GABINETE CALIGARI. Graduated in Art History (UCM) and collaborator in written press (El País, ABC, Diario 16) as well as in specialized musical magazines (Rock de Luxe, Route 66, Rolling Stone) and motor ... View all

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