One day in the latter part of 1968, Ginger and I were driving a AFN customer Porsche 911 over a railway bridge near Whitton Dean in Hounslow, when another Porsche 911 went past us going the other way with headlamps flashing. Ginger immediately recognised the driver, who was peering through the steering wheel at him, waving, so we turned around and met up in the nearest lay by.
The driver turned out to be Bill Bates. I was introduced to Bill, who was another person that was to influence my life enormously in the following years.
Bill had apparently driven around in an old green Commer van until he purchased his first Porsche 356. Jimmy Christie who was Bill’s careful Scottish business partner, had told him when the van was in need of a major rebuild, to go up the road to Isleworth and buy a German Porsche motorcar from AFN. Bill was surprised by Jimmy’s advice but decided that Jimmy knew value for money and so he made a visit to AFN.
Bill did around 100,000 miles per annum and he was up and down to Scotland regularly with his photographic work, so the move to driving a Porsche was both sound and economical decision for them as a business.
He subsequently purchased a number of Porsche 356’s and 911 models from AFN over the years and was a founder member of the Porsche Club Great Britain, Honorary Member No.4.
Bill did a lot of photography work for the Porsche Club and also for the Aldington family who owned AFN, so he was very friendly with W.H. (Bill) and H.J. Aldington and latterly J.T.A or John Aldington who took over and managed the Porsche business from his father and uncle.
So from the owner a number of Porsche 356’s, Bill had progressed to his first Porsche 911, which was the car, I remember so well on that day. This car was registered as FGX 911C, a guards red 911 Coupe, which was also an ex-demonstrator of AFN.
I will always remember that first meeting with Bill, who was wearing his Austrian Green felt Tyrolean hat, with a feathered plume and attached along the side complementing this were all his miniature Porsche badges pinned on.