Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Gerry Stonhill’s - Porsche 911

Gerry Stonhill had a 911T, which he used on the road as his day-to-day car. However each year we would prepare the car for him so he could go and compete in the Bentley Drivers Sprint meeting in Belgium. I remember asking Gerry upon his return from this event the first time, how he had got on and he told me he like all the other competitors had made their respective runs, then a chap arrived with a very old supercharged Le Mans Bentley, took it off the trailer, warmed it up and made his run, put the Bentley back on the trailer and left. He had beaten everyone and did not even wait around to see the results!
Life at Maltin’s continued and I decided to make up some extra money driving in the evenings for Hertz car rental at 0.50 pence per hour. We delivered and collected cars all over the country but the very long hours on top on my long hours at Maltin’s were soon to catch up with me.
It was several months later that I took Gerry Porsche 911T home and on the odd evening I was not working for Hertz; I popped round to see my girlfriend in Isleworth, who lived just around the corner from AFN. I drove through Hounslow High Street and whilst passing the Fire Station at Isleworth I fell asleep at the wheel, hit the centre island and the car spun around and flew backwards into a very large lamppost. The next thing I can remember was waking up in West Middlesex hospital from concussion and aching all over. I was very lucky on two counts; firstly the lamp post was a bus stop outside the technical college and fortunately no one was waiting there, and secondly, I was not damaged other than slight concussion, a flattened nose and a graze to one of my legs. (I had actually hurt my back at the time but this did not show up until some years later).
Chris Maltin came into see me and although he put on a brave face, I knew all was not well with the car. I was out of hospital a couple of days later and back to work the following Monday. Gerry’s car was a write off and apparently the lamppost had caught fire as well.
The first thing I did when I got back to work was to get into the newest customer’s car I could find, a Porsche 2.4 911S Coupe and drove down to see Gerry at his pub in Dorchester to apologise for writing his car off. Gerry was serving behind the bar and as soon as he saw me he said, “Alan, how are you? I said, “I am fine but what can I say about your car Gerry”? He said, “What are you drinking” and we proceeded to sit together and have a chat over a pint of beer. Gerry was of the opinion that his car was just a piece of metal and that as long as I was fine the car could get repaired or replaced under Maltin’s insurance.
Well to cut a long story short, I don’t think Chris Maltin had comprehensive motor trader insurance. It was something we talked about a lot in the early days of setting up the business, but Chris kept complaining how expensive the policy was, so I guess he only took the bare minimum, so our customer’s cars were not covered.
Shortly after, Chris offered Gerry his own Porsche 911T Coupe but Gerry refused saying he wanted a new car or the cash equivalent. A deal was struck sometime later and Gerry went on to purchase a new 1973 Porsche Carrera 2.7 lightweight.
Gerry’s old Porsche 911 was cut in two and converted into the first RHD Targa (Porsche only manufactured LHD ones in those days) by Chris and Autofarm, but I never followed what happened to it afterwards. The thinking was you could not buy a RHD Targa in those days so this was a first and would allow Chris to get some of his money back.
As we operated from Chris’s farm, which was also his family home, things got very strained between his wife “Bunch” and I. I could not understand this at first as we had always got on so well, but then I realised that Chris had no insurance cover and that he had to pay for Gerry’s car himself. Bunch was not amused at this loss and I guess blamed me as the driver and cause of this financial loss.
Things got so strained over the next few weeks that I met with Chris and thought the best thing I could do was resign and leave. Bob Grafham worked in his spare time with us at Maltin’s and I told him and my younger brother Roy to stay on and not to worry about me.
Bob and Roy went on working with Chris in developing the famous water injected Morris1000, which after many, many years later took Chris into Maltin Pollution Control and anaerobic digesters, but that as they say is another story!
I did visit Chris and Bunch some while later and then on regular occasions and matters smoothed over and we remained good friends, however they divorced some years later and Chris remarried.

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