If you’re thinking that this all looks a bit familiar, you’d be right. Back in issue 88, we headed to RPM Technik to take a look around the Porsche specialist’s then-new location, situated 45 miles north-west of London’s city centre in the rolling hillsides of rural Hertfordshire.
That enlightening visit was nearly three years ago though, coming just a few months after RPM moved into their two-unit premises in November 2011. Now, having thoroughly settled in at Long Marston, we’re returning, faced with a markedly different economic climate.
“The 50th anniversary has helped quite a lot in putting the 911 back in the spotlight,” Darren Anderson, one of RPM’s three directors (alongside Greig Daly and founder Ollie Preston), explains. “Certainly, the market has been steadily improving, with light at the end of the tunnel with the recession. The combination of all those things happening has put us into a strong 911 marketplace.”
This upswing in 911 buying and selling has coincided with RPM’s expansion at just the right time. The driving force behind the company’s relocation was the need to expand the business with a sales department alongside the well-established servicing operation set up by Preston in 2001. The previous single-unit premises simply didn’t have the floor space to house the necessary showroom.
Nearly 36 months down the line, the sales operation contributes more than 50 per cent of RPM’s annual turnover, though Anderson admits that this is partly thanks to the high cost of each 911 relative to the fixed-rate servicing fees RPM has offered since day one. Still, it is an impressive growth rate and, led by head of Sales Greig Daly (a new name to those only familiar with RPM via that issue 88 profile), the sales department has quickly proven itself as one of the premier sellers of quality 911s in the UK, rising up the ranks to join established names like Paragon and RSJ at the top independents table.
Anderson is confident that this upswing will not be burst though, despite comparisons to the boom in classic and premium car prices in the early Nineties. “Air-cooled 911s have gone crazy over the last 18 months, as have GT3s. Cars that were undervalued are now finding their value. I don’t think it’s a bubble so much as people are actually appreciating these cars for what they are.”
Such is RPM’s faith in the strength of the sales market that there is talk of expanding this side of the business, doubling the showroom’s floor space in order to put more Porsches on display. Unlike the previous expansion, though, this would not necessitate a second relocation.
After all, with nearly 15 years of experience, RPM has built up a strong customer base in the affluent local area, something it would be rash to throw away – even with many sales being made to customers abroad, especially to South-East Asia.
Their near-to-London location (which is conveniently close to the M1 for more northerly clientele) also continues to send the servicing department from strength to strength, with eight technical staff now employed full-time, including Preston, who leads from the front. Another ramp is in the process of being installed, increasing capacity further in order to keep up with demand.
Original Porsche parts are used during servicing and maintenance work, with Anderson admitting, “We have a large account with Porsche – I should know, because I have to pay it!” However, should a customer wish, a range of OEM components are also available, with a strong after-sales division now up and running. Customers are able to order parts online via RPM’s new website, which was launched at the tail-end of last year.
With Daly taking care of sales on a day-to-day basis, Anderson has been freed up to work on commercial deals that have seen RPM become official re-sellers for a range of premium parts manufacturers, such as HRE Wheels, Performance Friction, and Eibach. These are all components that RPM has tested and given its seal of approval to. Many of them have made it onto the CSR cars, a new initiative formed in the intervening period of Total 911’s two visits.
“We have always been approached by people for tuning and fettling with their Porsche models, so we’d learnt quite a lot practically,” Anderson explains of the CSR’s origins. “We identified with the 997 – until Porsche built the GTS – there wasn’t a sports and track-orientated four-seater 911: usable everyday, but with the ability to drive it to Spa and drive it back home from Spa.”
The 997 CSR – “A car that we’d wanted to build for some time” – followed on from the original Boxster-based build, and has now been joined by a 996 Carrera Gen1 CSR, which prior to our latest visit, Anderson had been testing on a trackday at the famous Belgian circuit, a favourite shakedown venue for the RPM crew. With base cars available for around £10,000, Anderson feels that a conversion to CSR specification would cost a further £15,000, but the result is a car with refreshed drivetrain, suspension and brakes – something that most 996s at the tail-end of the market would require anyway.
• Owner: Ollie Preston, Darren Anderson, Greig Daly
• Founded: 2001
• Location: Long Marston, Hertfordshire, UK
• Most unusual car sold: A tuned 996 GT2, turning out in excess of 600bhp. Darren Anderson says, “It was an experience taking it out onto the road.”
• Air-cooled speciality: 964s. When we visited there were no less than three Guards red 964s (two Carrera 2s and a Carrera 4) at RPM. All three featured original Design90 wheels and ‘elephant ear’ mirrors.
• Website: www.rpmtechnik.co.uk
• Telephone: +44 (0)1296 663824
The 996 is nearly ready for public unveiling, as is another intriguing project: a 964 retro backdate, featuring new triple LED ‘Lume-Technik’ lights developed by RPM to fit all air-cooled 911s from 901s right through to 964s. From what we saw – and are allowed to say – there was a lot of bespoke work going on, so it will be interesting to see the final car, but with RPM’s standard of work, we’re sure that the end product will be suitably first class.
It is clear, then, that RPM Technik is a team of Porsche enthusiasts with plenty of passion for the marque, and most importantly plenty of vision and skill too. After preparing a few customers’ race cars, they took the plunge to support a 997 GT3 Cup car in the GT Cup series this year, currently sitting third in their class at attempt number one. With plans to continue the racing again next year, RPM will undoubtedly look to move up the standings, with the race team (run by their full-time technicians) acting as a halo for the skills and expertise on offer in the workshop.
With the workshop therefore going from strength to strength, and sales motoring along at a pace, RPM has rapidly become a one-stop shop for everything a discerning Porschephile could hope for. It will be exciting to see where business has developed if we return for our third tri-annual visit by the turn of 2017.
RPM Technik are recognised as one of the UK’s leading 911 specialists. You can read more about their Sale Or Return 911 policy in issue 112 of Total 911 magazine, available via digital download now.