Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Mclaren F1 Chase! Part 1

The McLaren F1 Chase!  Part 1

The McLaren F1 chase was on!  My quest commenced on 10th August 2010.  Mmmm… “where do I start?” rushed over me again. Where on Earth do people advertise their McLaren F1 for sale? Would it be a case of chasing off market cars and being messed around by endless laptop car dealers trying it on?

Classifieds adds... that’s where I started.  Ok, so they weren’t exactly your average websites but a more trade-based affair that surprisingly brought with it some potential. One that really stood out was a white F1 (turned out to be Marlboro white) that had covered just over 1000miles, perfect! Worth an e mail, why not? The reply was fast, from an American dealer who seemed to have some pedigree with high value cars.  The car in question was based in Japan just outside Osaka and in a very short space of time I was on my way to Japan to inspect it.        

I find Japan strange but exciting, well worth a visit.  I’d already been there many times before in my Formula One days and I felt at ease and familiar on landing into Osaka. I was met by a local with zero English, anyhow with no idea what he was telling me I followed him to my transport (a Maybach no less would you believe). After a 30-minute drive we turn up at a house, nice but in no way overstated from the outside. I was greeted by the owner and his family (wife, kids, Dogs and one other Japanese gentleman) but no American dealer? The only one that spoke English in the family was the 6-year-old daughter, gosh I thought this is going to be fun.  Turned out though that other local gentleman was a long time McLaren employee that did speak English (great and phew).

There it was in front of me, the F1 in all its beauty, as advertised in every way. The car was stunning! The inspection also found NO issues (mechanical or bodywork) and the paperwork history file as it should be.  It also had full McLaren service history and all the extras where there also (the tool box + tools: for the McLaren flying doctor to use, made to measure luggage for the side lockers, the battery charger & the watch!

Perfect! Could the F1 chase really be this easy? We had already briefly spoke about the expected price before I traveled so even that seemed a formality... I was about to find out how wrong I was!!

After inspecting the F1 in a very ‘showroom’ like room with white walls and white tiled floor being kept company by a Mercedes CLK GTR & Toyota 2000GT.  I was then asked if I would like to see the “real collection” … the REAL COLLECTION!!! I thought, what’s is this then?? I was then led down some stairs, suddenly I started seeing red, no not anger (quite the opposite in fact) as a Ferrari collection the likes of I had never seen was in front me, the walls where covered in signed Ferrari F1 drivers Race suits, more Ferrari models & memorabilia then you could ever imagine, as well as the likes of 288GTO + The Prototype, F40, F50, Enzo etc. my eyes turned to 2 Ferrari Formula One cars, bypassing the road cars I headed straight for the F1 cars, both Schumacher championship winning cars and both runners used by the owner stunning!!

Once home, I was straight onto the US based dealer to finish the deal, price set all was looking good! next task the transfer of a large sum of money and the collection of the car in a safe manner that suited all, this is where it all started to go wrong! The US dealer insisted that all funds where sent though his personal bank account, now we were talking about a good few £million so who in there write mind would do that? not us that is for sure. No less than 4 different options of safe payment where put forward by ourselves, all rejected by the dealer (Alarm bells). Around the same time, I had just got married (yes, the trolley dolly as stated in a previous article) and was set for a few weeks of Honeymoon bliss, however with the funds transfer issue, guess what I was doing on my honey moon?! much to my new wife’s disgust! This led to a very heated phone call with my then boss (the potential new owner) & his CEO to step up and sort it out, did they sort it NO!!  The US dealer would not move so the deal collapsed, to this day I am sure the F1 owner does not know the truth as to why the deal collapsed, the same car did sell around 1 year later into the USA, so the dealer must have found someone stupid or crazy willing to transfer huge sums of money into his account.

….The F1 Chase to be CONTINUED.                                                                


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Building Classic & Supercar Collections, Where DO you Start?

Building Classic & Supercar  Collections, Where DO you Start?  

My task: To build a Classic & Supercar collection to rival the best in the World and the infrastructure to be able to correctly manage each car.

Where to Start?... Purchasing the first car of course!... and what better car to start with the 1st real supercar and arguably still the most beautiful the Lamborghini Miura, in this case the SV.  Ok we now have the car to source, not just any car but a $1m+ car to start with (in 2008).  I better not get this wrong!

How to source such a car? With no contacts or idea! A connection to my F1 past came to light.  The collection owner had built the first F1 circuit in the Middle East (Bahrain international circuit) and was in the process of building Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi. In doing so had dealings with a British F1 World Champion from the 1960’s & 70’s who was working as a consultant to the circuit owners.  From this connection we were put in touch with an swiss based but British classic car dealer who had been sourcing cars for the rich and famous around the world for many years, A Muira expert (supposedly) ….Perfect!  Said dealer just so happened to know of a Miura SV that had just been restored in the US (more on the US restoration later).  This was not just any Miura SV, this was 1st owned by the Shah of Iran, giving the car excellent provenance.  History tells that the Shar & his wife personally visited the factory to Spec the car (as normal it was the wife that actually chose the colors).  Once we had looked at the history a price was quickly agreed for the car subject to inspection, the dealer claimed to have inspected the car with a nice invoice & good report coming back to prove it, contracts where duly signed, and the car paid for.  Within 2 weeks the Miura SV was looking amazing in the collection if not lonely at this point, however!

Problems!! With the Muira sitting in the newly built collection building on a nice shiny tiled floor it was easy to spot fluid that had found its way out of car (normal for an old car some would say), within less then a day we had a nice pool of oil under the engine, Great!!!  After you had just paid a large bill from the dealer for the pleasure of them to inspect the car - Lesson number 1: NEVER have a dealer inspect a car or take their world that a car is mechanically sound, very few dealers have any mechanical knowledge at all!! From that day forward part of my job was traveling wherever in the World to inspect and report on any cars of interest, we therefore never had this issue again.  I now offer inspection services though CLASSIC HANGAR, piece of mind before you buy!  The Muira with its V12 engine basically has the same engine gearbox layout as a classic Mini with the gearbox under the engine and with this shares the same issues with oil leaking from where the gear selector shaft goes into the gearbox. With no Lamborghini specialist in the Middle East and a dealer with no clue at all and little in the way of facilities at the time it, I replaced the rouge seal that to this day is still good, welcome to the world of classic Supercars!

Back to the US Restoration.  A few years after we purchased the car, the Lamborgini legend Valentino Balboni paid a visit to the collection, paying particular attention to the Muira of course.  Without me saying a word he turned to me not looking very happy and said” Americans!!, they cannot restore Lamborghinis” then proceeded by spending the next five minutes pointing out all the incorrect bits on the car.  Over the next weeks / months I then non Americanised the car bringing it back to how it would have left the factory (just one extra was left however, the built in fire system for very good reasons)! As Muira history shows they like to catch fire due to the fuel line running above the exhaust manifold.

Valentino saw the car again last year, this time I am happy to say, he was very happy… and so was I!


Sunday, July 28, 2019

How do you get a Job building a classic & Supercar Collection?

The Job!...... So how do you get a job building a classic & supercar collection you may ask?  Back in 2007 and my last year in Formula 1, we were coming down from the highs of the 2005 & 2006 Double would championships.  Also, after 10 years of economy class round the world trips, more than a sprinkling of 18 to 24 hour working days plus not forgetting the partying off course! I was tired, very Tired! Before the 2007 season had got underway I decide it was going to be my last.  During that final year in between races I was flying to Bahrain (my new destination of choice) to organize and set the stage for my smooth transition and new career away from Formula 1.  My transition was in place as I had set up a job working for a German Porsche tuning company that was setting up a Middle Base, all was good, the job and visa sorted, living in the sun sorted, fast cars sorted, a Royal Flight trolley dolly girlfriend (Now wife) sorted, what could go wrong?... The Germans and the locals fell out just as the company opened, it shut down straight away and that was that, no Job! (not sorted).  I managed to keep busy as a part time instructor at the Bahrain circuit.  The summer months were looming which meant that the circuit would close due to the excessive heat until autumn, I had no idea what I was going to do next? Out of the blue and in the nick of time I received a message from a friend that someone was going call me about a job, I had no idea what job?  Within a minute of the message my phone was ringing, with an English guy on the other end asking if I could pass by a Building site for an interview now!  Still no idea what this was about, what did I have to lose? Off I went to the building site which was a huge, half-built shopping mail construction project.  Once there within 10 minutes I was told that they had a few cars already (Arab Spec) and they were looking to purchase a good few more.  “We require someone to manage this, do you fancy it? ………. Well of course, YES!!                                              

The Brief:  To build a collection of iconic supercars from pretty much zero, budget was never mentioned, I had no contacts network, I had just spent 10 years traveling the world in Formula 1 so why would I know who you trust? At the end of the day a used car dealer is a used car dealer, whether it’s a back-street dealer selling you a £500 heap or a flash supercar dealer with purchase costs running in the millions, the risks are high, Arthur daily springs to mind!  It was now one of my many tasks to network the ‘right’ people / companies to trust! Not easy! in upcoming articles I will write further on the importance of building Relationships and Trust with dealers & Auction Houses + why I would never trust Middle East supercar dealers.