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17 Apr 2018

It takes two

For independent Porsche specialist RPM, it’s not just about the cars. It’s about delivering dreams  

For independent Porsche specialist RPM, it’s not just about the cars. It’s about delivering dreams.
Words: Julian Milnes
Photos: RPM Specialist Cars
The ownership aspirations of most Porsche customers are formed at an early age, says Nick Roberts, partner at RPM Specialist Cars: “They come from a Dinky toy or a car they grew up with. That vehicle becomes an ambition they’ll aim for later on in life. That’s why, as a business, it’s important to get it right. If you get it wrong when you service or sell someone a car, you’ve shattered their dreams. It’s not just a bad car, it’s what it represents.”
Located in Knaresborough on the outskirts of Harrogate, independent Porsche specialist RPM has been providing its customer-focused service since 2004, when Nick and business partner Andy Meeking left JCT600’s Porsche dealership in Leeds to go it alone.

Andy takes up the story: “I started out as an apprentice mechanic for Rover, then
switched to JCT after being made redundant. The company had two dealerships on site, Porsche on one side and Ferrari, Lotus and Aston Martin on the other. I like to think I chose the better brand. It meant working with the car I loved.”
Even then, Andy’s dream was to set up as an independent. “It probably wasn’t wise to state my ultimate ambition in the interview with JCT. I think they were a little taken aback!” he admits.
His apprenticeship gave him a thorough schooling in the cars, particularly into how well they were built then. “It has been said before that the air-cooled cars were over-engineered, and I’m not going to disagree,” says Andy.

But the experience at JCT wasn’t just about the cars. “What stood out for me – and still stands out today – was having great relationships with customers. That really made an impression. Seeing just how passionate and involved they were with their cars made me even more enthusiastic.”
This was partly inspired by JCT’s Saturday morning clinics. Customers were invited to
visit the workshop and chat with the mechanics to gain an insight into their car’s workings. “This meant we were involved in both sides, mechanical and customer relations, which was great schooling,” says Andy.
Andy and Nick, Andy’s boss at the time, subsequently talked over the idea of going it alone. When they did take the plunge, they initially took a considered approach to growing RPM. Nick says: “I was confident it would work, though it was a slow build to begin with, based on reputation and referrals. As you progress, you evolve and work on the marketing, advertising and so on.”
If connecting with the customer is paramount to RPM, one of the firm’s aces is the layout of the business. Everyone who visits walks through the workshop to reach the main reception. “The whole operation is constantly on show and nothing is hidden,” says Nick.

There are also open house days, where enthusiasts and customers can come along and chat about their cars with Nick and Andy and the mechanics. “We get a lot of interest from owners who take up the offer to pop in during our events,” says Andy.
“They enjoy having a look around the car on the ramps, seeing what works, what is
needed and how it’s done. I’d say three-quarters of owners take up the offer to view their cars
in detail at the event. It builds a good bond – they can see what we’re reporting on.”
As for the scope of vehicles passing through RPM, Nick says: “It ranges from customers running 924s and 944s, which are now becoming more collectable, all the way up to GT3s and 2.7RSs.”

With RPM’s ear to the ground, what’s set to become a classic? Andy says: “I’d say that 996s are contenders. The Turbos made the jump in the last few years and have now levelled out, so other less obvious models, such as C4s, are finding favour. Standard cars also seem to be climbing. There were, of course, a few mechanical concerns with the 996. However,
I don’t think they’re as widespread as was made out – people now understand them.”
Are there any standouts for the RPM duo? “My personal favourite was a 964 Turbo 3.6, which we still have in on occasions. It just captures that era. It’s a good day when you pick those up for service,” says Andy.
And as for Nick, it goes back to that Dinky car of choice: “It would have to be a 911 3.2. I remember that car as a kid – it holds a lot of memories.”

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