There exists an underground location in West London where ultra-expensive cars are pampered like royalty. Held in a state of turnkey readiness for their owners, some spend years in stasis while others pass through the secret spot’s vault-like entrance on a near daily basis. How regularly they’re used doesn’t matter to the employees of Windrush; the requirement is always the same. Each car must remain primed for an unscheduled awakening, just in case their owner decides after months away that they need to embark on a continental voyage tomorrow afternoon. Or tonight at 4am.
“We’re like a car butler service that’s open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” says Tim Earnshaw, who founded Windrush at its original Cotswolds site in 2004 before opening in London five years ago. “People sometimes think this kind of service is for cars that are rarely used but we often find our customers demand the opposite. One of the main reasons we’re so unique in the industry is that we can cater to people who want regular use of their cars without the headache of care and maintenance.”
The positioning of the near 100 cars parked in Windrush’s London space – which Tim appropriately likens to a 007 bunker with its unpublicised address and hidden entrance – confirms that this is a business model not based on cramming as much metal in as possible, but rather on providing the utmost care and attention, with permanent accessibility. This is true for even the very longest residents, which in other locations might have deteriorated from lack of use or been left behind a handful of other cars.
Tim says that one example, a Jaguar XK120, has been stored in Windrush’s temperature and humidity controlled confines for 12 years and its owner believes “it’s better today than when it first went in”, even though it hasn’t seen road use since it arrived. And with some of the covers partially lifted for PH’s prying eyes, it’s not hard to believe the claim. A Bugatti Chiron, three Aston Martin DB5s and a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster no less are among the partially visible models that look like they were detailed only yesterday. The same is true for the BMW M140i that’s parked amongst the exotica.
“We have cars here that are subjected to track use and have needed collecting in a lorry from the circuit due to their tyre wear,” continues Tim. “That’s how far beyond storage our service goes; we’ve got the service station to bring them in and get them fit and ready for the next outing. And that’s true for the very newest and even vintage stuff, as well as electric cars. We’re forever evolving our practices.”
Tim explains that Windrush has a rolling road that can “exercise” cars that shouldn’t be left standing inactive for a long time, allowing for the gentle warming of engine, gearbox and drivetrain. One particular owner of a highly-strung Jaguar E-Type has asked for their car not to be started, however, so Windrush has used other tactics to keep its oily bits in good, “on the button” shape. Windrush’s employees drip oil into its cylinders through the plug ports, before rolling the car back and forth while it’s in gear to keep the internals lubricated. Servicing is also undertaken; in this regard it’s a lot like a full-time babysitting job.
Some PHers may find this unrelenting attention to detail familiar, the company’s tale having begun at its first site near the River Windrush (hence the name) when Tim decided to use a vacant barn on family land to store a car he was building. The story goes that he needed somewhere to shelter a Morgan replica he had made using an MG B base, so the abandoned barn quickly became his “man cave”. When others caught wind (ahem) of the space on offer and showed interest, Tim realised he had a business venture on his hands. It wasn’t long before a Mitsubishi Evo VI was also in the barn, but it was Tim’s decision to go above and beyond and actively care for the Japanese legend that impressed its owner most – particularly because he ran this embryonic operation alongside a full-time job in F1 hospitality logistics.
Before long space in his now fully kitted out barn - which housed everything from an immaculate, time machine-spec Rover 25 to the kind of supercars Windrush has now become famous for - found itself in enormous demand. But being a couple of hours drive from London prevented it from reaching its full potential, simply because, as Tim puts it, “there are lots of customers who arrive at the airport from business and want easy access to their car”. He says Windrush has grown into “a team of car nuts helping time-poor people” and, as if on cue, the racy exhaust note of a returning 911 GT2 RS echoes through the entrance door just a second later. The vault opens as it rolls in to join the eight-figure collection of exotica, and the enthusiasm the team have for the car and its deep shade of purple is infectious – but Tim assures us it remains the same no matter the car. They just love caring for cars.
So, you’re sold on the service, the team and the location - what’s the damage? £600 per month for a slot in London might ensure this service remains one for the very wealthiest of customers (it’s half that price in the Cotswolds), but as Tim says, “these are not the sort of people to short-change themselves, they’ll only pay and return if the service is up to standard”. After spending a morning gawping at the care and attention given to the very special cars stored under west London’s busy streets, we’d say that suffices as an understatement. Anyway, even if you’re not among the lucky sods who could ever consider such a service, you might agree that there’s something incredibly cool about some of the world’s most special cars sitting, waiting in secret beneath unsuspecting drinkers in a pub.