PH MEETS MR AUTOFARM
Autofarm co-founder Josh Sadler talks classic Porsches and about his incredible barn find 911 ST
The man at the wheel
The drive is short, though telling, Josh's smoothness and speed behind the wheel underlining his familiarity with his car and the roads that make up his daily drive. There's some attempt at conversation, but the squeaking from the rear suspension bushes - Josh admitting they're needing some lubrication - and the sound of the 2.4-litre flat-six filling the interior makes chat problematic. His daily driver is his occasional weekend racer, too, after all.
The eureka moment came when they stumbled across a couple of written-off 911s. A '72 S which was broken for parts and a repairable '68 car which they bought and started looking for parts. Having no luck sourcing official parts from Porsche itself in the UK Josh and Steve persuaded Jack Phillips, Glacier Bearings colleague and soon to be Autofarm technician, to bring his Cortina 1500 estate and point it in the direction of Germany.
Straight to source
Josh admits to "having no concept of running a business in second-hand Porsche parts," adding, "we were desperately green" but the company grew, moving around the country as ever more space was needed. Buying wrecked Porsches to help fill the hole in the market, a sizeable market for replacement parts for those rallying '73 RS cars emerged too. The 80s saw a shabby, but loved, showroom at the end of the tube line at Amersham as its basis, the mad optimism of the 90s seeing Autofarm expand massively into Hertfordshire's amusingly named Cow Roast, taking on a couple of franchised dealerships. The following recession saw Autofarm contract back to its roots and focusing entirely on Porsches.
3.7-litre engined Cayman as well as a hotchpotch of other marques including an F40 and Bentley Continental. Josh's own Mini Marcos racer, which he's raced in a couple of endurance events, laughing as he describes "a couple of old boys falling over each other during driver changes," and an old Lagonda betray Josh's interests beyond Porsches.
A barn find to die for
It's not the highly polished, hermetically sealed machines that has sees Josh really animated though. Instead, what to the untrained eye looks like nothing more than an old, in need of restoration 911 is Josh's next project. It's a car he sold in the 80s, knowing then that it was a bit special, but not having taken the time to research it properly. Curiosity got the better of Josh a few years ago and he sought out the sales document and found the seller and the car was found languishing at the bottom of the garden under a tarpaulin.
Still unsure exactly what it was, Josh "took a punt," getting it out requiring the removal of a fence. It was worth the effort. The pared back trim, the lightweight door panels, lightweight carpets and tacho that reads up to 10,000rpm, along with some further research revealed it to be a 911 S Sport, sometimes referred to as an ST.
A garden find 911, now nestling in a barn owned by a man who farms Porsches? You couldn't make it up. And that RSR recreation? We'll take that one next time...
Photos: Max Earey