I have done events for enough years now to know that they always come towards you like a train. Eleven months to go, six months to go, three weeks to go – until it is the week before and then the night before.
Opening at Bicester has been no different. Key hurdles were builders, furniture, coffee machines, jelly baby supplies. We have been kicking around the site for a while now, work started in January and one definitely got the sense that the fine and helpful team at Bicester Heritage were as ready for us to move fully on site, as were we. We have never had anything other than positive encouragement and, by March, it was clearly time to open the doors.
A good focal point for us has been the April Scramble. We don’t see Scrambles as a huge sales opportunity, to be honest, more as an opportunity to spend time with our friends and fellow enthusiasts. Having the good fortune to have one of the more picturesque buildings on site, we can put together something a little bit dramatic which we hope people will enjoy coming into. We like cars with enough space around them so that people can appreciate them – especially when it’s something as exquisitely proportioned as the Aurelia Outlaw by Thornley Kelham, or our original paint ‘survivor’ 356 Roadster.
The Scramble came and went in a blur. Our cars received the most generous praise, on the ground and online, and the vibe has been nothing other than positive (that word again) and affirmative. We talked Porsche with everyone from Historika boss Kevin Morfett via local guru Gary Cook and interior expert Garry Hall to local Porsche guy and man of beard Frank Cassidy. Our artist friend Al Gibson swung by on his sublime 1937 BMW R6 Supersport; before long, we were watching Isle of Man TT videos with ace lady racer Maria Costello. Friends with children helped themselves to FAB lollies from our freezer and went off to play football in a secret location where Brian, the unflappable ops manager, told them they could. Truly a jumpers for goalposts moment. We even sold a car and the Aurelia Outlaw, we think, blew everyone away.
Now, the hard work really begins. We have some great opening stock and we look forward to showing it. It would only be right to finish with a thank you – to our friends in the industry and just those around us who have responded with sage advice and much enthusiasm. To those we have worked so closely with (in particular Pip, Jonty and Dan at BH, Nat the snapper, Ade on the website and car brochures, JT2 for the hard yards) and to anyone who has been open-minded about two guys opening a new business. Thank you.