Many people come to Baldwin County from other cities, towns and states but few come from as far away as the United Kingdom. In 1981 Michael Darby relocated to Baldwin County from Leeds, England.
Darby’s motive for moving to Alabama was the love of his life, Nancy. They met in Europe aboard a ferry, while traveling from Norway to England. The two married and lived in England for four years before returning to Nancy’s hometown in Baldwin County. Darby’s first job was working at the shipyard in Mobile., Ala. He later found a job as a foreign car mechanic, but his true passion was restoring British sports cars. After working in Fairhope for several years, Darby decided to start his own business.
Darby has been in the business of British car restoration for 21 years. He says “I have never spent a dime on advertising. All of my business comes to me by word of mouth.” Currently Darby has about a two-year backlog of cars waiting to be restored.
Darby has one daughter, Stella, age 31, who is living in England and working toward a Ph.D. in Cultural Geography from The University of Leeds.
In 2013 Darby and his daughter made a 6,200 mile “trip of a lifetime” in his 1959 restored MG convertible. The journey took a full month traveling from Alabama to Oregon. Along the way Stella kept a daily blog of their adventures to help preserve the memories. Darby says “the month-long journey was a rewarding trip with my daughter. We came back even closer.”
Along the way they also stopped and met some of the suppliers Darby deals with restoring British automobiles. Finally, at the end of their adventure, Nancy met her family in California for a vacation of sightseeing, visiting relatives and sampling the local cuisine.
Michael Darby restores classic cars as much for his own enjoyment as for other people. While he hopes to retire one day and maybe move back to England, right now he has more work than he can handle. A