Here at Pro-tec, we’ve been manufacturing and designing bespoke vehicle covers since our inception in 1996. We have traditionally focussed on fitted covers for caravans and motorhomes but behind the scenes, we have had our finger in the car cover market for quite some time. We’ve even been asked to produce covers for famous petrol-heads, including Jamie Oliver and Jay Kay of Jamiroquai!
At Christmas time 2016, we appointed a new MD, Paul Smith. As you would expect from a new MD, Paul has ideas of his own and a clear vision of the direction he wants Pro-tec to take in the future. Top of the range, bespoke car covers, are very definitely included in this vision.
Paul has approximately 20 years’ experience of manufacturing tailor-made vehicle covers and has the added benefit of having worked his way up through the ranks. Starting out at the very bottom all those years ago, Paul has done everything from cutting fabric to making deliveries. You’d be hard pushed to find someone who knows the processes involved in the manufacture of high-end, protective car covers better than Mr. Smith.
MD Paul Smith creates a custom car cover pattern for this Volvo
As well as his own expertise, since taking the helm at Pro-tec, Paul has been busily rounding up some of the best talent in the cover production arena. Since Christmas 2016, we have appointed (amongst others) a new Production Manager to ensure that work passes smoothly through our factory, a new CAD Manager to take vehicle measurements and patterns and convert them to a digital format and a couple of new machinists to assemble covers to the highest possible standard. All of these appointments have been made to enhance the standard of products we manufacture and between them, have added a staggering 100+ years’ experience to the Pro-tec arsenal.
Beki, our CAD Manager and Matt, our Production Manager
Craftsmanship and tradition are at the heart of everything we do here at Pro-tec. We are a bespoke cover manufacturer after all and the level of fit that we require of our covers can not be achieved by cutting corners. The process of making a custom car cover is not far removed from the practices employed by an artisan tailor, creating a bespoke suit.
As you can see, the level of fit we aim to achieve is quite exacting.
The tailoring process begins when cotton fabric is laid over the surface of the car to be covered. We work with cotton fabric at this stage because it is light and flexible enough so that it clings to every contour of the vehicle beneath. Painstakingly, the cotton is trimmed and pinned and gradually, the beginnings of the finished cover creep into view as panels and seams are added and moulded to the perfect shape, until it fits the car like a second skin. We continue this process until we have exactly half of the car covered and the pattern heads back to our factory to be prepped. At the moment, we are training an apprentice in the tailoring skills required to produce such a bespoke item; Elisha takes the cotton template that was created on the car and translates it to a template for hand-cutting and also to a digital file to be cut on an automated CNC machine.
Our apprentice, Elisha, creating a pattern for this Jaguar XJ8
BMW M3 Pattern
Our MD, Paul, working on an Aston Martin pattern.
From the prepped pattern, we cut the 2 side panels, the centre panel, a front and back panel and the wing mirrors. The individual pieces are bundled together and passed from the cutting department to the sewing department, to be assembled into the finished cover. We then double check every aspect of the fit of the cover by taking it for a sample fitting on the car we originally took the pattern from. This is much like the first fitting of a bespoke suit or wedding dress, where we check the fit, the seams, the piping, the mirrors etc to make sure that cover has the quality and style to meet our exacting standards. If we need to make any amendments, this is the stage to iron out any creases but our design team have pretty much got the pattern process down to a fine art and amendments are rare.
An indoor car cover being sewn together.
A couple of fine adjustments being made to a sample cover.
The completed cover is now ready to be passed to our QC and Dispatch team, where it will go through a finger-tip inspection prior to being sent via DPD next day delivery service.
Our outdoor car covers are fabricated from the same material we have been making caravan covers from for years. It’s a purpose designed, three-layer polymer, which has been engineered to be highly breathable, waterproof to a hydrostatic head rating of 1000 and guaranteed not to scratch. Our indoor covers are a heavy-grade protective fleece. Soft to the touch and breathable, they are thick enough to save your car from any accidental dings or scrapes while it is garaged, while keeping out air-borne dust particles. Next time you think protection, think Pro-tec. Give us a call on 01274 780088 to discuss your car cover requirements.