MANILA, Philippines—A modern-day treasure hunter and star of the latest Discovery Channel program “Salvage Hunters,” has expressed interest in coming to the Philippines to look for antiques that can be restored.
Drew Pritchard, 41, is a restoration expert in the United Kingdom (UK). He has restored hundreds of antique items from cars and motorbikes to stained glass windows and small pedal bicycles. He would sell the restored items at a much higher price than when he bought them as junk.
“The Philippines is really interesting because I don’t think that that sort of market has been explored,” Pritchard said in a telephone interview with international media.
“Countries like that have got a rich background of things and the stuff from the 1950s, 60s and 70s there [also] interests me. There [are] a lot of old cars [in the Philippines] from that era that I’d like to buy [and restore],” Pritchard said.
His search for antique items to restore brought him to Poland, France, Italy and Belgium, among others.
He said that “the rarest and most valuable thing” he has restored was a set of 14 stained-glass windows by William Morris, a greatly influential artist and poet in England during the 19th century.
The set was sold for around 60,000 pounds to one of the wives of the Beatles, he said.
He has also managed to restore an entire hotel, which was shipped to Japan. He bought the hotel in England for 25,000 pounds, spent 50,000 to take it down and restore each piece including the interior, and then shipped the entire building to Japan where it became a golf club. He sold it for just over 200,000 pounds, he said.
“That doesn’t happen everyday. It’s not normal and it’s only happened once. And I never think it would happen again,” he said about the hotel.
Pritchard’s interest in restoration began when he was 11 years old. He would find old pedal bicycles and restore them in the back yard of their house. He also collected and restored oars and pieces of boats he found on the beach near their house. “It was total junk but to me it was all treasure,” he said.
Later on, when he was 15 years old, he would buy old vintage cars and keep them in their garden to restore. He recalled that the local officials came to their house and closed him down for keeping junk. The incident made his mother angry and ordered him to get rid of everything.
Pritchard began working for a stained-glass restorer at the age of 16. He trained in restoration and worked on old castles and cathedrals in England.
When he was 23, the restoration business of his employer went bankrupt and he was given all the leftover items that were unrestored because the business had no more money to pay him.
He took all of those items, restored them, and sold them. He said he “made more money each day than I had been making a month [in the previous business].”
From there he worked full-time searching for old antiques that he could restore and then sell to collectors and people all over the world through their website.
He has restored fireplaces, doors, lighting and garden ornaments, cars, paintings, jewelry, and wood carvings among others. “I was [always] more interested in broken things than new things,” he said.
The “Salvage Hunters” series follows Pritchard and a camera crew as they go around the UK searching and buying antique items that he would restore and sell.
“Salvage Hunters” premiers on the Discovery Channel January 12 and airs every Thursday 9:00 pm.