This Dream Garage Might Just Be The Best Mix Of Old And New
Photography by Nat Twiss
Imagine, for a second, that you could start putting together your dream car collection. How would you go about it? Amazingly, it’s a more daunting task than you might first imagine.
How do I know? I visited our friend Richard’s stunning collection recently, and I was astonished at the amount of care and attention that goes into one’s dream garage.
Were cars in your life as a child, or has your passion grown with the passage of time?
Richard: I was born in 1970, so my first memories of cars were my parent’s Austin Mini Clubman Estate, a gawd-awful yellow Morris Marina, and a blindingly bright yellow Lada that my Dad owned. Things improved in the ’80s with an Opel Manta Coupe, though.
My parents were never into cars but I was, I’m told, obsessed from an early age. My favorite travel game was to name models of cars, to such an extent my father tells me I could name them at night from headlamps—these were the days before an entire model range had the same look.
How long did it take for you to create this collection?
Richard: I had fun hatchbacks during my teens in the late ’80s, such as Vauxhall Astra GTEs and a Peugeot 205 1.9GTi, but after I left home and got married, money became tight, and for a while I shared a 1.1-litre Ford Fiesta with my wife. Eventually, I got a company car, a metallic green Vauxhall Vectra (at the time I thought it was extremely posh), eventually making way for a couple of Audi TTs.
Things changed after I bought a small business in 2007 with a couple of business partners, and after a great deal of hard work, the business took off. In 2008, I purchased a factory-new BMW E92 M3, and the rest have came after that. Eight of the cars arrived after we sold the business in April 2014.
Your stable is eclectic, but is there one particular era of the automobile which you like most?
Richard: Each car offers a different experience and returns different pleasures. There can be a lot of snobbery in the car scene and even rivalry between different marque owners which I just don’t understand. We’re all car people with different budgets, different tastes and different opportunities. We should applaud and respect each other, not criticize.
Do you have a particular philosophy to collecting cars?
Each car has to be of a different genre than the others. My rule of thumb is asking “Will I walk past everything else [to have] a unique experience?”.
For example, the Ford Escort RS1600 demands to be driven hard, but whilst it is also a 2-door coupe, the Alfa Romeo just oozes laid-back cruising. Another good pairing is the Ferrari and the Lotus. 2 mid-engine, V8, rear wheel drive cars separated by some 20 years. Driving each back to back with the other is quite a revelation, and it highlights the huge advances in technology manufacturers have made.
To drive the Lotus as rapidly as you might the Ferrari will induce aching arms and bring a sweat on.
Do you have an automotive ‘White Whale’?
I’ve set off to buy a Porsche 356 Coupé on three occasions, and each time returned home with something else. It just seems to slip away from me each time, one was sold when I arrived, and the other two weren’t in great condition.
I suppose the White Whale that I caught would be my Ferrari. It’s what I dreamed of as a small boy and I had posters of red Ferraris on my bedroom wall. So when I finally got a new 458 Spider in 2014, aged 44, it was quite an emotional moment. It still is. When I walk into the garage I still have a, “Holy shit, that’s my Ferrari!” moment, even 18 months after taking delivery.
How often do you drive your cars? Do you find yourself using your modern or classic machines more?
Pretty much every day. Which car I drive is dictated, living in the North of England, by weather to a degree, but also mood and destination. Security can be an issue for the classics, so I tend not to take them to places where I will have to park them, and they won’t be in sight. I do go for drives just for the sake of going for a drive, though, and that’s generally where the classics come in.
Do you keep your collection close to home or do you enjoy taking your cars on long journeys and road trips?
I have a wide group of friends who are into their cars and we get together regularly. We do day trips across England and a road trip in Europe every year. Next year, we already have 11 cars booked to go, and I expect more. There’s nothing quite like crossing the Alps in a procession of cars full of your friends!
Bizarrely our most memorable adventure was a race we did from Yorkshire to John O’ Groats, the most Northerly tip of Scotland, and back last year. That sounds straightforward, but it was a non stop race in cars that had to have been purchased for less than £200. I bought an old Suzuki Wagon R for the race which became known as Stanley.
Unfortunately, Stanley died soon after the race. He was a brave little soul, but age got the better of him. Six of seven cars made it, and the winner took 17 hours 45 minutes. The winner’s prize? A good sleep