And once opting for life ashore in 1968-69, he began work for his father, in their quality car business on the High Street, Bagshot, just south-west of London. He first had to clean cars “properly – which took four days, right down to polishing the tool kit”, under his father’s critical gaze, brandy glass by his side…
The first car Adrian actually bought for the business was a 1956 Jaguar Mark VII with sliding invalid passenger door – “Bought for £150, sold for £200 – I was clearly a genius!” – and in engaging wheeler-dealing, negotiation and deal-sealing, he pretty much proved to be just that. Duncan quickly recognised as much and took a back seat in the business, letting the boy spread his wings and fly.
During his career Adrian became almost literally a titan of the global classic and Historic car market as – standing well over 6 feet tall, seemingly as wide, with a booming cultured voice and relentless up-and-at ’em energy – he handled or helped negotiate the sale of no fewer than nine Ferrari GTOs, literally dozens of Ford GT40s, numerous Porsche 917s and more and more over succeeding decades… He sold D-Type and C-Type Jaguars in volume, bought Duncan’s 1953 Le Mans-winning C-Type from Briggs Cunningham in the USA and kept it – so proudly – for many years.
Hammy and the C-Type then featured in many classic car tours and rallies around the world, from Colorado in the USA to Cudlee Creek, South Australia, on the Classic Adelaide event. He was often navigated by D-Type owning friend, the diminutive Willie Tuckett. The sight of Hammy and little Will in the C-Type was described as looking like “The King of Tonga and his lunch”.
Hammy’s business style varied dependent on client. “Buy the right motor car and it will look after you” was a favourite saying, meaning that if both the car’s provenance and quality were impeccable its investment value will soar. Having sized-up another client Hammy could be bluntly direct – “If you don’t buy this car you’re a bloody fool – you’ll never get another chance!”.
Some American contacts nicknamed him ‘The Duke of Bagshot’. His impeccable British tones worked superbly when telephoning a restaurant reservation in the USA – “It’s Lord Bagshot hyar – please reserve me a table for ten”. It always seemed to work. No trip with Hammy could be other than fun.