Tuesday, 14 February 2012

First Customers

I had met a chap previously called Willie Zauner, a big burly blond haired German who ran several businesses including a construction, municipal cleaning and boat repair yard.
Willie had bought a very early (1965) Porsche 911 coupe second-hand from the Prime Minister of Bahrain. This car had been sent back to the Porsche factory previously by Sheikh Khalifa the Bahraini PM to be totally rebuilt. It was bright yellow with black leather inside and was in immaculate condition.
Bob and I introduced ourselves to Willie in the bar of the old sailing club, which was just a converted villa near the sea at the south end of Sitra Island in those days (today this is a fabulously modern marina facility and private club). When I mentioned his Porsche to him, Willie had told Bob and I it was a great car but like everything else in Bahrain, it did not work properly. After a few beers he doubted if we could fix his Porsche for him, but told us he would be absolutely delighted if we could, still looking doubtfully at us both. I told him we could do whatever was necessary without problem and to leave it to us.
We all went out to look at Willie’s Porsche 911 and when Willie started it up it was running very poorly indeed and certainly not on six cylinders. I took Willie up the road and let him drive my own Porsche 911E 2.2 Targa that Bob and I had driven out from the United Kingdom, and he came back suitable impressed.
Bob and I did not have any workshop facilities or equipment (other than our few basic hand tools) at that time, so we explained our situation to Willie who immediately told us that it was not a problem. He apparently owned a tool shop in Manama and he called his manager there and then and told him to let us take anything we wanted on account, provided that we signed for it.
So Bob drove Willie’s Porsche 911 following my own and we set off to Manama to Willie’s shop to select some tools and equipment. We were pleasantly surprised to find a fantastic tool and garage equipment shop and shortly left with a good range of tools and equipment to get us started, all duly signed for without any payment.
A few days later we delivered Willie’s Porsche 911 back to him. When he drove it up the road and back, he got out and said, “It is fantastic and it had never gone so well!” He invited us over to his house for dinner that night and besides gaining a bit of cash in our pockets, we had a ready supply of any tools and equipment on credit, which we could pay for in due course. In return, Willie told us that his car must always be at the front of our queue when he required service to which we readily agreed (especially as we did not have any other customers at that time).
Shortly after, all Willie’s German friends were calling our pager device and we were soon looking after a range of BMW, Mercedes, Land Rovers, and other cars and we began to make a bit of cash for ourselves and pay Willie back for his tools.
If ever we saw an exotic car on the road, we chased after it in my Porsche 911 Targa and introduced ourselves to the owner. These were strangers of all nationalities driving cars such as Maserati, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Jensen, Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Mercedes, basically any car that was a headache for the owners to get serviced or repaired in Bahrain. 

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