If you know your supercars, then you’ll have heard of Tom Hartley. The Tom Hartley name is synonymous with high-end and high-priced motor cars, but what makes the man behind it all Tom Hartley tick? He kindly invited us to its showrooms (or should we say estate) over in Derbyshire for a chat.
Tell us about Tom Hartley and some of the wonderful cars you deal in.
We’ve been buying and selling luxury and performance cars for more than four decades. I literally deal with all parts of the continent and global markets. The most affordable item in our fleets being around £100,000.00, all the way up to £25,000,000.00. We are renowned in this business for being able to supply rare models which can range from the latest model Range Rover to the latest model of a Ferrari and other similar brands (e.g. Bugatti, McLaren, Lamborghini, Porsche, Rolls Royce and Bentley). Most of our models have a waiting list with more demand than supply, unfortunately. The premium in which you pay on top of the recommended retail price can be as much as £10,000.00-£2,000,000.00 – the fact of the matter is that we can supply any make of car, for a price. I’ll do pretty much anything to get the car that a customer requires. I’ve even been known to flag a driver down on the road, just to ask if they’re willing to sell it to me, he said laughing.
So, come on. How did you get started in all this?
I’m originally from Scotland and I sold my first car (a Range Rover) when I was 12, back in 1973. Having no schooling, I used to travel the country attending car auctions – a feat that was supported by my parents, until the age of 15. I moved to England seven years later, setting up base in Derbyshire in 1980.
Today, the 40-acre Hartley countryside estate, where me and my son Carl’s family homes and showrooms stand, is a testament to the hard work put in to become one of the best-known names in the supercar market. Carl was also schooled within the business, completing an apprenticeship at just 18. From then on, he’s worked with me as a partner and we’ve continued to grow the business together.
How do you maintain your vehicles?
Well, I don’t clean them myself, if that’s what you’re asking, he said chuckling to himself. We have a dedicated detailing team, who valet and prep our cars for customers, as well as any upcoming shows. We start by removing the wheels. Something I feel is very important, if you want to detail a car properly. The amount of filth that gets into those arches completely ruins the whole look. We machine polish both the paint and the wheels with three different layers of product, usually a sealant. Cleaning a car properly can take up to one week. It’s very important that we do it properly. We spend so much time and effort finding the car for our customer in the first place and making the sale. Falling down on the cleaning would be an embarrassment. We fully shampoo the interior, bringing it back to almost new status. We also polish all nuts and bolts that’re exposed, using a fine brush. I told you we were thorough!
Do you have any top tips on maintaining an aspect of a car and what are your top/favourite products to use?
I think my biggest tip would be to not let any stone go unturned. I realise not everyone will have a dedicated team of professionals on their doorstep, and this winter weather isn’t the most encouraging conditions to go out and wash your car, but it’s well worth it. If you’re a car enthusiast like me and many of my customers, you’ll want to do a proper job. That includes removing the wheels to get to every place that dirt will have chance to settle. It not only makes the car look a hell of a lot better, no matter what the make or model, it should help to retain residual values. Proper cleaning and care will help to prevent rust, as well as premature aging. Also, use good products! Make sure you’re using some kind of protection on all of your car’s surfaces. Whether it’s wax or sealant, it really doesn’t matter, as long as there’s something helping to prevent dirt from festering. A good wax or sealant, as well as a strong shampoo, will see you by nicely. These are the essentials for any detailing kit.