I Found A World-Class Showroom Socked Away In The English Countryside
Photography by Jayson Fong
Hidden away in the leafy Cotswolds in the West of England, among stunning open roads and quaint British cottages, is the charming headquarters of William I’Anson Ltd. Specialists in the sale of collector cars from around the world, their showroom hosts an ever changing collection of vehicles and is looked after by a team of lifelong car enthusiasts. In other words, a workplace fueled by a passion for beautiful cars and motor racing.
As I’m welcomed in by the cosy sound of a gravel driveway, I’m led to a courtyard flanked by a series of barn doors. There’s not much from the outside to give away what lies behind them, but the secret doesn’t last very long as the first set of doors is opened by William I’Anson himself, revealing an assortment of fine vintage vehicles that make up his showroom. With a low ceiling, exposed timber beams, and surrounded with memorabilia, the space has a traditional touch that makes the cars look right at home.
Front and center is a Gullwing finished in a vibrant red, and I’m told this is the Mercedes-Benz show car from the 1955 Earl’s Court Motorshow and with its doors reaching up, it looks as majestic as it must have more than half a century ago. Sitting proudly on the other side are pre-war Bugattis accompanied by a spotless 911 Targa, an exquisite Lotus 15 in bare aluminum, a successful historic racing Cortina, and a similar MGB. As the rest of the doors are opened and the light streams in, cars ranging from potential weekend wheels to serious race-ready Formula cars are revealed—there must be a car for almost any mood here.
At the rear and through a pair of French doors, I’m led to a space where William and colleague Ben Mitchell are graced with one of the best office views. While pointing out the intriguing collection of automotive art and memorabilia collected over many years, William tells me that his passion for wheels has been of the lifelong sort. With his father, Richard, having started up the renowned Grand Prix Bugatti specialists Tula Engineering, William spent much of his upbringing on journeys to circuits around the world with special machines like these. Likewise, Ben also has a history with motorsport, having attended his first meeting at the tender age of 10 days, and having competed in karts, exotic sports cars, and a stint testing with an Indy Lights team in the USA.
However, now on his own path that has also included experiences in yacht racing (including for the British America’s Cup Team in 2003), and engineering, William has returned to his roots in specialist collector cars. But it’s clear from the visit that it’s not just about unique machines here, it’s equally about the lifestyle that comes with them. With both William and Ben’s lives shaped by it, they find themselves very well placed to assist owners in every aspect of ownership from the showroom to the road or to the race track.
As I take a few minutes to look over the craftsmanship and variety in the William I’Anson showroom while preparing myself for the return to reality, a quote from Confucius pops into mind: “Choose a job you love, and you will never work another day.” It’s rarely rung more true. With a workplace that ranges from a showroom full of automotive goodies to pit lanes and occasionally behind the wheel racing, I may very well have bumped into two people who have found that perfect balance.