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Ivan poses in front of his workshop with the bodywork of a 1983 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce undergoing restoration. R. C.
Former Ferrari and Rolls-Royce mechanic swaps fast pace of Marbella for sleepy village of 70 inhabitants in north-east of Spain
Motoring

Former Ferrari and Rolls-Royce mechanic swaps fast pace of Marbella for sleepy village of 70 inhabitants in north-east of Spain

Iván Fernández has set up a classic car restoration workshop in Visiedo. "He has given us new life," said the mayor

José Antonio Guerrero

Madrid

Friday, 21 June 2024, 16:02

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Iván Fernández and his wife Eva, both 53, arrived in Visiedo (in the north-eastern Spanish province of Teruel) ten months ago. They chose to leave behind the glamour of Marbella “and its tourist overload” to embrace the tranquillity of a small village of just 70 residents surrounded by countryside where life goes by without looking at the clock. In an old agricultural garage, Iván has set up a workshop specialising in classic cars.

He is not lacking in experience. Iván has spent his whole life around engines. First, in his native Madrid in his father’s garage, and then as a mechanic in the dealerships of exclusive brands such as Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini and Bugatti. In 2005, he decided to open his own sports car workshop in Marbella and it started off very well for him. “I had a lot of clients, mostly builders, but the 2008 crisis hit, construction went bust and so did I,” he said.

Later he received an attractive offer to work for Ferrari in Dubai, but just as he was about to jet off to the Middle East, a British millionaire, living on the Costa del Sol asked him to take care of the maintenance of his classic car collection, including an Aston Martin, a Ferrari and a 1931 Phantom. The latter had been used by its owner in the Peking-Paris rally, during which the clutch had been broken.

“He called me from Novosibirsk in Siberia and I flew there in his private jet to change the part.” The Brit spared no expense. “I’ve been working for him for 12 years, but last summer he decided to sell his entire collection. That’s when my wife and I thought we’d move to a small village.”

They ended up in Visiedo, where they are the latest additions to a population that has been rejuvenated by their arrival. “Life is great here. There is no stress. You can leave your car with the keys in the ignition. There’s a supermarket and a bar - what more could you want? I get up when I wake up, which doesn’t mean it’s late, I take the dogs out to the countryside and I go to the garage to work, which is 50 metres from my house. At 1pm a neighbour might come and say ‘Iván, let’s go to the bar for vermouth’. And off we go”.

Disconnect

Iván and his partner wanted to disconnect from the noise, the hustle and bustle of places like Madrid and Marbella. “My wife and I are 53 years old, we have done all the going out we need to and now we are looking for peace and quiet. And if one day we want to go for a big night out, we have Teruel half an hour away, Valencia and Zaragoza an hour and a half and Madrid three hours away. But I don’t miss anything.”

The couple have a daughter in England who has made them grandparents (young grandparents, it should be noted) twice, and their grandchildren enjoy Visiedo as much as the beaches of Marbella. “This is paradise for the children; they can ride their bikes without fear of traffic, and in summer they have the swimming pool.” The workshop is already starting to take off. Iván repairs his new neighbours’ vehicles on request, but he focuses on restoring classics “from the first screw to the last”.

He is currently busy with a 1983 Alfa Romeo Spider - a convertible he owns and wants to sell once it is ready - as well as a ‘37 AC Two Seater and a 1957 Jaguar MK, which he has received disassembled in boxes and which he will assemble after cleaning each part.

The little village has been left amazed by the arrival of trailers loaded with fancy cars, and the mayor, Yolanda Ibáñez, is more than delighted with this unexpected boost to Visiedo’s economy and population.

“We’re all very happy. They’ve brought life to the village. They are very friendly. They spend time with the older people, with everyone, and they are very nice. And a vintage car workshop in the village is an interesting business,” said Yolanda, still surprised by the new endeavour that is bringing so much activity to the area.

“In winter, there are 70 of us here, and at first we wondered if they would cope, but they’ve adapted brilliantly. I wish there were more like them,” she added.

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