A version of this article first appeared in Classic Motoring magazine: Driving to my destination I caught a distant glimpse of dreaming spires before I was plunged onto the automotive hell that is the A34 Oxford by-pass. Fortunately, it was only a few miles before Serena (my virtual Sat-Nav girl) took me away from all that and out into some delightful Oxfordshire countryside.
I was on my way to visit Autofarm, the long established Porsche specialists. Turning off a country lane I drove along a private single-lane blacktop that meandered through arable fields until I arrived at a hive of industry, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, yet readily accessible from urban centres.
Situated adjacent to the village of Weston-on-the-Green and housed in Oddington Grange’s historic farm buildings, the environment is quiet and characterful, just the setting for these legendary cars of character. At the helm at the time of my visit was one of the founders from way back in 1973. Josh Sadler, who has now taken semi-retirement, was at the head of a small team of dedicated professionals at Autofarm which offers clients the knowledge gleaned from his forty years’ experience with the marque.
The Oxfordshire based workshop offers servicing using accredited diagnostic equipment, sales, parts, race preparation, repair, restoration and engine rebuild capability as you would expect; but what struck me most of all was the dedication to the cause exhibited by the technicians.
The Heart Of The Matter
In the engine bay, for example, I was shown the intricacies of the beating heart of Porsche; in this case, a flat-six engine from a 1972 2.4S, stripped down for servicing and a cosmetic rebuild. Laid out on a workbench was an organised array of small parts, galvanised and ready for fitting. On the next engine stand was the motor from a 1989 930 Turbo. The owner had been investigating an issue when a rag had inadvertently gone down the inlet. Fearing the worst, the owner contacted Autofarm and the engine was dropped out and examined.In fact, all was well, but here’s the point: Whilst the motor is out, Matt, the engine guru, took the opportunity to administer to other small jobs that needed attention and also add some cosmetic improvements. That’s what I mean about attention to detail. It was crystal clear to me just how much all the staff care about what they are doing. As Matt said to me, he becomes absorbed by the work.Aladdin’s Cave
Different areas of the company attend to different things. Out back, customer cars – some from faraway places – await their turn, sitting patiently under wraps. Across the courtyard lay the arcane mysteries of the Special Projects workshop. This is where renovation expert Mikey restores classic Porsches, modifies modern 911s and Boxsters or creates the branded Autofarm RS special project cars. Cars are prepared to customer specifications whilst others are undergoing a full restoration. It’s like Aladdin’s Cave in there, except with spanners and jewel-like parts and an end product that is certain to be a gem.Everyday Affairs
It’s not all about restoration and renovation though, fascinating though that is. Autofarm understand that cars have to be routinely serviced, the annual MOT arranged and that accident damage needs specialist skills of a thoroughly modern workshop. They can even care for your car in their storage facilities, away from prying eyes. That’s the bread and butter side of the automotive industry that all brands, no matter how prestigious, have to be catered for. So, even if your Porsche passion or budget extends only to an ageing Boxster then Autofarm will look after it for you.
The service offered also extends to real customer care. When your car is in the shop there’s a very reasonably priced hire car deal on offer (no, don’t get your hopes up) and if your nearest and dearest is carping about the expense of your renovation, Autofarm will deliver you both to fashion shopping heaven at a nearby mall to salve your conscience – and they pick you up too!If you are reading this blog then you are probably already aware that owning a classic car is never going to be a cheap experience. The likelihood is, if you are not of the DIY persuasion, that the bill will be more than you first thought. But classic enthusiasts accept this as part of the package. Running a Porsche from a bygone era requires that the vehicles are maintained to a critical level. I spoke to one owner on site who was clear that these cars need to be driven. He spoke so eloquently on the subject that his own car, in mint original condition, is a story in itself, here.
I knew that a visit to a Porsche specialist would be interesting but I didn’t, I admit, expect it to be fascinating. It’s nice to know that when you buy a classic Porsche, the people who look after it care as much as you do.Geoff Maxted