George Bamford Opens His Garage Doors To Show Us His Favorite Toys
Photography by Ted Gushue
There’s a phrase we like to use around the office when we see someone we know kicking ass: they’re “doing it right.” My friend George is unequivocally one of those people. Known for his custom timepieces through Bamford Watch Department, he comes from a family that is to this day a keystone of every Goodwood Paddock and vintage race around the world. Through savvy business dealings and a serendipitous tendency to be in the right place at the right time, the Bamford family has been privileged to own some of the most legendary cars in automotive history (his father Antony Bamford famously bought a 250GTO from Alain De Cadenet for something like 5,000 pounds sterling).
Much like his father, George has set out to build his own collection with his own flair. Over the holiday weekend, I was able to spend a bit of time on his farm mucking about with four of his favorite toys, starting with a very special Porsche.
1974 Porsche 3.0RS
Ted Gushue: 1974 3.0RS. Bought spanking new originally by your father Antony, sold to you, and now driven in anger around Oxfordshire.
George Bamford: Yep. He used to drive it to work. It was his baby and I was very lucky to buy it from him. For me, it’s really the fastest car I can drive. The reason why I say the fastest car I can drive is because I’ve known it for so long. I’ve driven it for most of my adult life, and was driven in it as a child. I love every bit about it. I know exactly where every wheel is at every moment, where every corner is in every curve. I know its little problems. I know there’s a bit of shake when you chuck it into a right-hander. You get to know these things about a car like you would a family member over time. The idiosyncrasies add to its charm, but the overall impression is what you’re left with.
So often people can get into cars they know nothing about, and get into a bit of trouble. That’s what I love about this car. I know what I can do in it, and I know how it will behave in just about any situation.
TG: I’m sitting in it with you right now with muddy boots, messing up the carpet on a wet day. You’re not even flinching.
GB: None of my cars are show ponies. If they’re show ponies what the fuck would I be doing with them in my garage? My cars were built to be driven, and I’m going to drive them. It’s the same thing with anything in my life, my watches, etcetera. I want to enjoy them and I think that’s where I probably differ from a lot of “collectors” out there. Everything I do, whether it’s for myself or for one of my customers, is designed for someone to enjoy for a long long time. Not to sit under a glass case collecting dust that someone brushes off from time to time.
TG: It just sounds amazing. It’s bone stock, and nothing’s been changed on it, correct?
GB: It’s just pure. Everything about the car is visceral. You can feel the acceleration in your bones. You can smell the petrol in your nose. You can scare neighbors two towns over when you take the straight pipe covers off. It throws you back, the wheels spin and you are just blown away.
TG: Will your son own this car one day?
GB: Yeah. All of my cars ideally someday will belong to my children in some form or another. For me the Audi R8 GT is the modern equivalent of this car, strangely. That’s why I bought the R8 GT, so that my children can experience the equivalent of what the 3.0RS was like for my father, if that makes any sense.
TG: Explain that.
GB: I believe the GT was the pinnacle of the R8 model, much like the RS was the pinnacle of the 911, and when you look at it as a limited edition it matches up in that lineage. Obviously the cars are very different, but the principal concept is the same. Small run, top of their game, perfect cars with a few charming flaws. I’d put the Project 7 Jaguar in that category. Of course these cars have computers and so on, but I think the energy there is the same.
Ferrari 275 GTB
TG: The 275. What year are we looking at here?
GB: Fuck I don’t know. I always never know on this one. ’64, ’65, ’66? It’s like when someone asks me what the reference number is on a Patek Philipe. Like “Is it a 5907G?” Christ, I don’t know, I just love it to death. I’m not that much of a waffle that I need to memorize its build sheet. It’s a beautiful 275 GT, two cam, aluminum body. When I bought it it was a mess. Tangerine orange, the ad listed it as a steel body 275. So I rocked up with a magnet, realized I was looking at an aluminum body, bought it for a song and took it to Ferrari Classiche to have it brought back to stock properly.
It’s been resprayed to its original color, 90 percent black with 10 percent Rosso. In certain lights you’ll see a bit of the red shine through. Really special.
TG: Does the color have a name?
GB: Come on.
GB: We also had to sort out the engine soup to nuts. Full gearbox rebuild. The interior I didn’t want to touch because I love how frayed and beautifully aged it looks. I just wanted it that way so I don’t feel precious when I jump in and out with muddy shoes, or driving someone from Petrolicious around wet corners corners who’s got dirty boots inside the car.
TG: As you said, no show ponies. How long have you had it?
GB: 12 years.
TG: I assume this is a lifer as well.
GB: This for me is, I would never get rid of it. I would never. This is my baby. If the 3.0RS was my father’s baby, this one is mine. This is the car that makes me smile. Other cars do make me smile, but in different ways. But this is the car that I would go to you and I would say, “This is my baby.” This is my favorite car in the whole world.
TG: This car was also the inspiration for other projects in life, no?
GB: Yeah, something else I’m doing which you’ll hear about shortly. Get very, very excited about that.
TG: What’s the drive like?
GB: The drive is easy. It really is. If you see, we’re just cruising along, 50, 60 miles an hour and it’s easy. You can poodle around London in traffic in this, or you can fly down the M4 out to the country. You don’t need to worry. I drive it up and down to London most of the time. It’s a daily driver. Because it’s just that much of an easy car.
Land Rover 1/2 Ton Lightweight
TG: Now we’re looking at the the 1/2 Ton Lightweight.
GB: Lightweight [laughs] Not that light weight if I’m being honest. I bought it basically because I was very bored on Piston Heads one night. Absolutely loved the look of it.
TG: What was the story with these? Why were they created?
GB: They were created for the army and designed for easy lifting by helicopter. A Chinook or something. Of course, in typical British fashion, it rolls off the assembly line heavier than its civilian brother. Which in a very big way is why I love it. What an absurd little machine, it makes me smile just thinking about them building it. Realizing on the production line that it was actually heavier. Still handing it off to the Army. Too funny. Driving it you feel like you’re driving Miss Daisy. It’s got three seats in the front, just a scream to drive.
Devon 4×4 Bamford Spec Defender 110
TG: Oh boy. What mad men built this for you?
GB: Devon 4X4. It was a beautiful Devon 4X4 Land Rover to start with, and we took a 110 Land Rover and cut off the back. Put it on Rally Spec everything. All I said to them was that I never, ever wanted to get stuck again. This is what we came out with.
TG: How long did the build take?
GB: About six months. We poured over every little detail. To the point where they now offer it as a spec build option, which I think is quite fun. I’m in love with the green, that great matte green. It’s an absolute beast to drive. Like a Tiger tank. High up, fast, unstoppable.