How did you get into cars?
My first job was
at a place called Coys, which used to be on a lovely little mews in
Kensington, London, in 1988. It was probably the best-known vintage
car showroom then and this was straight after I got kicked out of
I started out in the auction department which they opened
relatively recently. Because I spoke languages, I rose up and ended
up running it after a few years. After eight years there I left to
join Brooks (which later became Bonhams), which was a specialist
classic car auction house in London and they wanted to expand
overseas. Because I had a lot of European clients, they approached
me to start the European office. When I eventually left we were 800
people and I did a sweetheart deal with them to take over the
Geneva offices and take my team with me and start a new
Did you always know you were going to work in the car
Nope, not at all. I had absolutely no idea of
what I was going to do but I was of the generation of my family
that had to work, so I postponed the inevitable for as long as
possible. My family were always into cars. My father retired very
young but he was an officer in the Royal Navy before and during the
war, like his brother [Glen Kidston].
Did you know your uncle at all?
killed flying in 1931, aged 31 or 32, just after setting the record
from England to South Africa in his plane. My father continued to
do the same thing. He raced cars and had planes and boats.
What are your earliest memories of speed?
was being a passenger in a bright yellow Porsche Carrera RS (1977)
and being driven at high speed to school. I’m pleased to say that
I've managed to keep it in the family ever since. That's probably
my first memory of being driven in that to school but it wasn't the
everyday car. The everyday car was a Lancia Fulvia.
Then there was being driven over endless Alpine passes in a
variety of different cars, usually with some 1960s music on the
stereo and with my father in sunglasses and a cigarette out the
corner of his mouth — something out of the Italian Job
without Miura. Cars, planes and boats to a lesser extent were
always in the back of my mind growing up. I just inherited a
passion for cars and when I was at university I realised that it
would be a fun thing to work in.
Where are you mainly based?
Now, I'm based
between Dubai, as we've just started an office there, London, where
I have a home and we've just opened a small office there on Pall
Mall, and then, of course, Geneva, where I've been based for the
last 20 years.
What made you want to start up your own
I was fed up with the endless churns of
auctions and selling whatever you could get your hands on. I wanted
to focus on far fewer clients and far fewer items and I was also
running the whole European side of Bonhams which wasn't just cars
and my interests lay fundamentally in cars.
What does your business specialise in?
brokerage of rare, beautiful and mostly expensive classic cars from
the 1920s through to the current day. The main focus is from the
1950s to the 1970s. The cars that I particularly like are from the
1950s. We're known for Mercedes Gullwings; I've had one for a long
time and it's my daily drive in Los Angeles. Also Lamborghini
Murias - I've had one of those for 20 years and we are writing the
definitive book on them which we are publishing next year.
Countaches are something I've been into for a while but I struggle
to fit into them so I've had to modify the seat. The other car that
I like is the McLaren from the 1990s, I've had one of those for a
Where do you go for your tailoring?
met, the suit I was wearing I had made by Cesera Attolini in
Larusmiani in Milan makes quite a lot of stuff with me. I do a
little bit with Corneliani
in Milan and then up until now I do a lot of made-to-measure with
Etro in Milan but they’ve since closed that department.
When I was younger I used to see a lot of tailors on Savile Row.
Recently I've made some shirts with Shaun O'Flynn on Sackville
Street and Welsh & Jeffries, who made me a red velvet tuxedo
jacket, which is the single most expensive thing I've had made.
Generally speaking, I look to Italian tailors.
Where else do you shop?
For ready-made stuff
I buy most of it from either Tom Ford or Berluti.
Are you into watches?
I don't know if I
could say I collect watches – I’m not that sophisticated. But I buy
watches on a regular and ignorant basis from Patek
Philippe. They're my go-to because I don't know
enough and I gravitate towards the brand that my father used to
buy. If I really knew my stuff I would have more varied taste and I
would buy old watches but I can't afford to buy them,
unfortunately. One day, though…
Aside from cars, you’re also into planes, aren’t
Yes I am. I’ve got a vintage aeroplane which I am
learning to fly. It's the 1930 Gypsy Moth Racing Bi-Plane built as
a one-off for the Chairman of de Havilland. My father used to fly a
lot, we had a hanger and a landing strip at home. It was my
father’s first ever aircraft which he owned in the 1930s. I
remember him telling me about it when I was young and years later
there was a little water-colour picture on the wall of my son's
bedroom and I remember after reading him a bedtime story wondering
about what the plane was. So, I spoke to the chairman of the de
Havilland club and he told me that it still exists and was down in
My father took it down to there in the 1930s and flew it around,
primarily to different court appearances for speeding offences. So,
I tracked it down, bought it and took it back to England. I thought
that it would be something great to get back into the family and it
took longer to negotiate with my wife, rather than the seller.
How does the restoration process with planes differ from
I think you could say that with aircraft,
replacement is much more acceptable than with cars because the
consequences of breaking down are usually much more serious than
with cars. The values are far less than cars because they're a less
usable thing and not many people have a pilot's license and live
near a landslip. For that reason, you can buy a Spitfire for a few
million, which is, of course, a lot of money, but compared to a Le
Mans-winning Ferrari, it's nothing.
What are your other interests?
interests are 1980s New Wave music. I've started to collect 1980s
keyboards and 1980s Roger Moore James
Bond movies. I'm a great fan of all kinds
of cheesy, camp, and kitsch 1960s and 1970s TV-series, Bond movies
and also things like The Avengers, The