From Retired to Restored

It took Mike Pennel three years to refurbish and restore his 1951 MG TD. This was his part-time job, while he was still working full-time for a prominent car manufacturing company. Little did Mike know that this labour of love would be the start of his new business venture in RetiremeantTM. He was reinventing himself and is now a specialist restorer of vintage cars.

“Vintage cars are a bit like us golden oldies,” he says. “They are full of wrinkles and dents and can’t be returned to perfect condition again. But they can be restored for a new lease on life.” For Mike, this type of personal restoration has meant far less pressure and much more joy!

Turning his passion into business

Mike’s MG TD arrived in parts in boxes

Mike bought his MG TD three years before officially retiring. “It arrived on a flatbed truck with all the parts packed into boxes,” remembers Mike. He spent weekends in his garage, painstakingly rebuilding and refurbishing every single part of the car while documenting every step of the re-build. He now fields questions on restoring TDs, and restores cars and components for other clients – all through word-of-mouth. Mike is selective of his clients and the work he takes on. “It has to fit into my area of expertise and meet my time-lines,” he says.

Having spent his whole life in the motoring industry, Mike has the expertise and passion to excel at what he does, while having fun at the same time. “The motor industry retires at 60. Time just creeps up on you. When I suddenly realised that I had to retire, it was all panic stations – I was not ready! I had not planned anything. Thankfully, I was asked to stay on for another three years which served my purpose in many ways,” says Mike. “When I finally retired at 63, I was ready. I had phased in my retirement with my hobby and knew exactly how I was going to spend my time.”

“The important part,” says Mike, “is to manage your time. Thinking back, I don’t know where I ever found the time to go to work.”

The pleasure of a task well done!

Planning your time

Mike’s advice is to plan the hours that you are willing to set aside for work every day. Even though his work is filled with pure joy and satisfaction, Mike allocates part of his day to other activities and interests. He has joined the German Shepherd dog club committee and apart from finding great joy in training his German Shepherd, he often gets called upon to restore the clubhouse. “Mike is always busy. If he is not fixing something in the house or clubhouse, he potters around the garage sorting things out,” says Natalie.

Natalie is fully supportive of Mike’s new business. It keeps him busy and gives her the time to follow her dreams.

Putting your creative passion to work

“I have always loved crafts and making boxes, trays and various décor items. When Mike asked what I was planning to do with all this stuff, I realised that I needed a creative outlet that would allow me to earn money at the same time,” says Natalie.

Natalie enrolled for a cake decorating Diploma and passed her course in her early 50s. “It wasn’t easy,” reflects Natalie. “I used to come home and ice my entire kitchen table, scrape it off, and ice it again!”

Natalie used her new skill to start a cake baking and decorating business. They refurbished their kitchen and she is very proud of the two ovens. “It also guarantees that we have dinner at night,” says Mike smilingly.

Natalie loves spending her time baking, piping and decorating, all from the comfort of her own home, with her orders also mostly coming in through word-of-mouth. “I am by no means artistic,” says Natalie, “but I love what I do!”

Natalie shares that her biggest challenge now is to grow her business. “I need to market my business better, but at the same time, I don’t want to be overextended,” says Natalie.

Mike and Natalie both spend part of their time giving back. With Mike’s skills coming in handy at the dog club, Natalie donates her time baking for a retirement home and child welfare project, and offers cake decorating workshops at retirement homes. “I love to teach and share my passion,” says Natalie.

Mike and Natalie share their tips for a successful RetiremeantTM:

  1. Be prepared. Retirement can be a shock. You may be ready financially, but you must be prepared mentally.
  2. Invest time in your hobby – who knows, it may turn into more than just that. Join a club or support group – be involved.
  3. Manage your time wisely – you don’t want to be so overextended that you cannot fit retirement into life.

Mike and Natalie have certainly restored their RetiremeantTM into an exciting new adventure. We wish them the very best of success in their new business ventures.

If you would like to contact Mike or Natalie, we have included their email addresses below:


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