30 Oct 2017

Richard’s GT Porsche Column: 1

Read Richard’s GT Porsche column for May/June 2017

Richard has started writing a regular column for GT Porsche magazine. Here is his first one:

Hello and welcome to my first regular column. Over the next twelve months, I shall endeavour to share some thoughts, experiences and insights into what I am doing and how we as a company got to where we are now.

The best place to start is at the beginning! Living 200 metres from dad’s original garage and therefore being exposed to all things mechanical from my earliest days made it almost impossible not to end up fully submerged in rear-engined German cars. The reason I say ‘almost impossible’ is that my elder brother has, in fact, disproved that! I put it down to overexposure, if there is such a thing.

Being the elder of two sons, he often spent his weekends (from the age of 4 years old) in the front of the service van going as far as the most Northern points of Scotland with the lads, whilst dad, without a care in the world, was charging around in his infamous and all-conquering VW beetle.

So I guess I was the lucky one and from a very early age I was hooked. Driving by the age of 8, a VW Beetle no less, and having managed to roll it over in a nearby field shortly before my ninth birthday, I had to get up to speed with firstly how to drive faster and safer, but more importantly how to keep it going, regardless of the abuse it was being subjected to.

Whilst my early school years were, largely speaking, not very productive (despite being a lot of fun!) and after a few interesting jobs between the age of 16 and 19, I eventually went to Oxford Brookes University where I studied Engineering Management. Against my previous form, I graduated with a first-class honours degree with distinction, and an engineering prize!

Both during and following university, my rally-driving career was on the up with a first Junior title in 1996, behind the wheel of a 1300cc Vauxhall Nova. I then spent a season driving a self-built 1965 2-litre Porsche 911 against the likes of Björn Waldegård and Jimmy McRae before graduating into 4wd machinery. This included Subarus, Mitsubishis and Hyundais: the latter two cars in the US rally championship, where I notched up a couple of international wins.

My first proper involvement in the Tuthill Porsche family business came when I agreed to help Stuart Rolt, a family friend and client, tackle the 2003 East African Safari Classic Rally. The deal was that I would teach him to drive one of our cars and then co-drive for him on the event. This would be my third visit to Kenya for the Safari Rally. The first – as shown in the photo – was when Dad drove a Saab, which he had built specifically for the event. I still remember it vividly. The second was at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza, which ended in a coming together with an eland antelope!

Finishing third overall with Stuart in 2003, following an impeccable drive, was an amazing result of which we were very proud. It also reignited a passion to rally in Kenya: something that has been a big part of where we are now.

What all of these experiences gave me is arguably the best possible background on which to develop a business based on making the best road, rally and racing cars possible with one common ingredient: the Porsche 911. I am not shy about how I now feel about this extraordinary car. It’s not uncommon for me to drive a 1965 911 before 10AM and by the close of play to have been in a current model 991 with a PDK gearbox.

I realise that, every morning, I am extremely lucky to walk into a workshop with fifty or more of these great cars spread around our fabrication, paint, engine, build and service departments. Ably assisted by an amazing team, we get cracking on delivering something special for those that are kind enough to ask us to work on their cars.
I look forward to elaborating more on all this in my column over the coming months.

We recreated the main photo with our first RGT car and Richard’s own family at WRC Deutschland in 2014 (below). The more things change…