Started in a North London lock-up
William is far from the vintage Bentley driver of popular imagination. He’s a young family man who happens to drive old Bentleys all the time: shopping to Tesco’s, to school to drop off his boys – and around the Sussex lanes to check and recheck every component before a car is handed back to its owner. And also to take GRR for a blast in a Super Sports. It’s a long way from the B2070 to a track in the Gobi Desert, but we suspect William attacks both with equal gusto.
William’s story is an unlikely one. His father, a toolmaker, had an MoT test garage in Edmonton, North London. It was successful enough – 5,000 MoTs a year! – for the family car to be a Bentley. William started out on his own 22 years ago, aged 18, “in a lock-up with a bag of tools”. He had grown up with Bentleys so that was what he specialised in, though soon focusing only on the vintage W O variety built between 1922 and 1932.
After the Tottenham riots (“they were at the top of our road!”) William decided to leave London for a quieter life and bought a former Vauxhall main dealer’s premises in Hill Brow, between Liss and Petersfield, an area not known for its rioting.
There could have been a riot at home, though. Establishing the business required a substantial investment, money that was equally needed for a deposit on a house for the recently married Medcalfs. It was decided instead to spend it on competing in the 2010 Peking to Paris in William’s own Super Sports, the very first one made. The new Mrs Medcalf didn’t just agree, she co-drove with William in the event – winning their class and coming home second overall.
William tells us: “We had to do the event because if we pulled it off it would prove our expertise and make the business – then we could buy a house. But it was quite a honeymoon.”