Visiting Duncan Hamilton ROFGO Is Like Waking Up In An Automotive Dreamland
Photography by Laura Kukuk
Among leading classic and competition car dealers, Duncan Hamilton ROFGO Limited can trace its roots back to 1948, when Duncan Hamilton starting trading sports cars to help support his newfound passion of motor racing. As his success grew he developed an affiliation with Jaguar, and in 1953 he won overall at the 24 Hours Le Mans in a Jaguar C Type as a works driver. A larger than life character, his reputation as winning driver and bon viveur grew—his autobiography Touch Wood is essential reading for anyone who wants a colorful picture of motor racing in the 1950s. Today the company is chaired by his son Adrian, a definite chip off the old block.
On a bright Friday in January I drove down through the picturesque Hampshire countryside to their brand new facility near Winchester. Housing the showroom alongside the world-famous arm of the ROFGO collection concentrated on Gulf cars, the premises are unsurprisingly anonymous and visitors are only welcomed by appointment.
Carefully sourced over the last 10 years by Adrian Hamilton, the ROFGO collection is a private one, so sadly it is not possible for the public to see the incredible sight of 38 Gulf cars lined up, each one with a Le Mans, F1, or Indy story to tell. The collection also includes the wonderful transporter seen at last year’s Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court. This was the vehicle that took the collection’s Porsche 917 to Le Mans in 1971 where it finished second in the race.
I was here to see the showroom rather than the collection (on this visit anyway), so with that in mind I stepped into the big sweet shop where the cars are displayed. I was shown a diverse collection ranging from a stunning silver GT40—a road car since birth—through more recent objects like a Porsche 962, the iconic Group C car, and also such eccentricities as the wonderfully self-indulgent Mercedes 600!
The 600 Pullman had the history to match its sinister look too: its first owner was the obligatory African Dictator followed by the Chinese director of Bruce Lee movies, to the current owner, an owner of a Premier League football club. With a deal pending to send it back out to Hong Kong soon, this was a well-traveled Grosser!
The Porsche 962 shown here raced successfully in Japan at the end of the iconic Group C era between 1988 and 1991. Following a restoration, the car, like so many other 962s has remained in private collections with little track use in Japan, US, and Europe. Lets hope the next owner gets it out and uses it in the new Peter Auto Group C series!
After a day spent with the wonderful team at Duncan Hamilton ROFGO I got back into my small but perfectly-formed Cinquecento and drove back to London reflecting on a company that has a back catalogue of sold cars that includes nine Ferrari 250 GTOs, 21 Ford GT40’, seven Porsche 917s, numerous Jaguar C and D-Types, all while creating a world famous collection of race cars alongside.
The best will always be the best, so stay tuned for more from Duncan Hamilton ROFGO in the weeks to come!