For a feature that has appeared on so many high-end cars for decades, engine turning requires a surprisingly basic set of tools: something that turns, something that’s rough, and something that’s slick. The real challenge to creating a gorgeous, intricate engine-turned panel, however, comes in clearing your schedule for such a time-intensive process and in the preparation work. Concept car restorer Tom Maruska can’t help us much with the former, but he was able to show us how he managed the latter when turning some panels for the Thunderbird Italien show car.
While some call the process “damascening” or “guilloche” – both of which describe slightly different processes with similar effects – engine turning creates a dazzling, almost three-dimensional pattern used to great effect on dashboard panels, body inserts, and other expanses of bright metal that would look too plain otherwise.
Maruska – who prefers the term “jeweling” – encountered a number of such parts during his 2006-2007 restoration of the 1963 Ford Thunderbird Italien, a fastback show car that Ford had Dearborn Steel Tubing build for the Ford Custom Car Caravan. In addition to the dash, the door panels, the rear interior panels, the doors, and the fenders all featured engine-turned aluminum sections. While some people claim that engine-turned panels should show some variation to reflect their hand-crafted nature, the Italien’s panels – original but in need of restoration – showed far more precision.