It takes something special to carve out a niche in the world of Porsche specialists these days. With demand pushing the value of the brand's sports cars up to unprecedented levels, the number of firms dedicating their showroom floors and workshops to 911s, 968s and other Stuttgart masterpieces has skyrocketed. The UK - in case you hadn't noticed - is at the forefront of this race, with a non-OEM firm seemingly on every other page of most car mags. Yet a handful still stand out from the crowd - like JZM of Kings Langley.
"We're the full spectrum of Porsche services and are not governed by Porsche standards," explains Russ Rosenthal, the sales director at JZM. "It means we can do things our own way - to the same ultra-high standards at the very minimum, but with our own creativity as well."
Russ is talking specifically about JZM's ability to enhance and modify Porsches. While its mechanics are certified to Porsche Gold Standard and the software on its diagnostics system is connected directly to Stuttgart - so JZM can do all the things a main Porsche dealer would and to "at least the same standard" - it goes beyond this and offers services to enhance customers' cars with almost unrivalled expertise in the industry.
"We don't ever fit pattern parts, for us it's either OEM or better," says Steve Mchale, the technical director that established the brand from the base of an old family business that specialised in Volkswagens back in the 1970s. "We will only carry out work that makes the car better, such as adding uprated performance parts or adjusting settings and geometry to make a car drive and run better."
This is where Steve's extensive experience as a race car builder and driver pays dividends, because he knows first-hand just how such small changes can affect a car's responsiveness and, ultimately, the entertainment value. With several engineers who've been at JZM for over 25 years - and three 24 Hours of Snetterton race wins under Steve's belt - the firm's brain trust is conspicuously well stocked.
This, of course, gives JZM an advantage in the field, because even Porsche's most extreme GT cars are still restricted by road regulations - meaning that JZM can quickly find some improvement in the setup of a track-exclusive car. In fact, Steve believes the reason so many have stayed at JZM for so many years is because the team "can be creative with their work" in this manner. He reckons "people want to work at JZM because they're tired of just changing parts at other garages" - and the infectious enthusiasm on display during our visit suggests job satisfaction is high. Being among GT2 RSs and 993 Cup cars (more on those shortly) all day long will probably do that to you.
"We focus most of our work and sales on the air-cooled stuff, Mezger-engine cars and also the later cars," adds Russ, "but we can work with anything and have fixed our fair share of bore scored flat sixes". Indeed, there's a Cayenne in the workshop, and the stock in the showroom, which is as much a museum of Porsche greats as it is a shopping venue, is diverse. Russ has 'designed' the layout of the floor, aligning classics, low-run specials and the most thrusting 21st century cars in jaw-dropping order.
"Our customers are so faithful that we only really lose them when one dies," says Russ, deadpan. "I think Porsche buyers are among the most faithful so it's true that we've built up quite the relationship with some customers - many of the 200-230 cars we sell a year are for repeat buyers. And because we offer a full breadth of services from workshop, sales and to storage, there's little reason for our customers to go elsewhere once they've used us."
In such a competitive market, Russ knows that only the highest calibre of cars (in terms of condition) can be brought into the JZM showroom. Undersides, engines and paint depths are examined in acute detail, with the same level of detailed inspection also carried out for cars in the workshop so owners are provided with a health report of their car. And should the engineers at JZM want to officially check something, they've got that direct line to the workshop in Stuttgart; Steve says "we can even send a digital recording of the work we've done for Porsche to approve".
Additionally, Russ has led the recent expansion of JZM's site so it can now store up to 120 cars at any one time - a useful asset when dealing with overseas customers. The service is not restricted to Porsches, either - a Cobra sits among the Caymans and GT3s - or even road cars, with a pair of gorgeous 993 Cup racers parked side by side, patiently waiting under covers for their buyer to organise delivery to Hong Kong. Russ believes it provides JZM with a smart safety net, should the Porsche bubble ever burst, too.
"We're realists; the Porsche market is in the middle of a price correction," explains Russ. "The car market has no FTSE to guide us, so it's all about feel and expertise. And right now, we felt like it was wise to offer a wider spectrum of services so if one decreases because the market slows, we've other options to keep us going strong."
Smart thinking. Although with JZM's customer base now extending all over the world, and brand awareness strong enough for the firm to host sell-out Cars and Coffee events outside its HQ, Russ and Steve are hoping that demand will only continue to grow. "We didn't set out to do it at the very start, but through natural evolution, we've become a one-stop Porsche shop!" As niches go, it's not a bad one.