In Conversation with William Hunt of Graeme Hunt Ltd
Welcome to our series of HCVA member interviews where we find out more about them and their businesses.
Graeme Hunt Ltd - HCVA Full Trade & Industry Member
Graeme Hunt Ltd specialises in the sale & brokerage of fine, historic and collectors' cars.
How did you either start, or join the business?
My father started the business in 2001. He was a salesman at Jack Barclays in the 1990’s and quickly worked his way up to be Managing Director. He left and shortly after founded our current business. I was around 10 at the time, and have always been sort of involved, helping clean the cars or helping to paint the walls of the showroom. I did like a lot going to the car shows, so would always go to those. But I seriously got involved after a stint at Silverstone Auctions (with Shân & Harry now at the HCVA), I left them and joined the family business in 2020.
What has been your proudest moment in work?
Outside the family business it was when I was with Classic Car Auctions. I was young and inexperienced but Nick Whale gave me a chance and the opportunity and in my first auction I had the 3rd best sales result of the whole team.
In the family business it was the sale of the Bentley Embiricos to a chap in Switzerland. Funnily enough it was an interesting delivery story. The buyer wanted the car delivered to Calais and he said he’d pay for me to get home via plane or ferry. I said I would do it and travel home as cheaply as possible which I wish I hadn’t in the end as I ended up having to buy a Brompton bicycle.
In the family business there are a few things of course, but what sticks out is the sale of the Bentley Embiricos to a chap in Switzerland. A great ‘heavy-weight’ car. Our client wanted the car to be delivered to Calais and he said he’d pay for me to get home via plane or ferry, whichever was cheaper! I said I would do it, and the ‘cheapest’ method ended up with me buying a foldable bike and unfolding, then cycling through Calais, unaware of where I was going, looking for the ferry to get back to Dover!
Cycling from Dover port to the train and then back home once in town. Briefcase & tie it must of looked odd queuing up at the ferry terminal in a queue of 50 – 60 cars with my foldable bike… It felt like a Top Gear challenge.
The buyer of the car shouted as I cycled away “You’re crazy!” whilst waving me off. Probably right.
What is the most valuable lesson your work has taught you?
Everyone should always be learning. I’m still young and still learning a lot. Be as open and honest as possible. I’ve seen people not be and they just dig themselves into such big holes and from the other side it makes for a less enjoyable experience.
What piece of advice about your work would you give your younger self?
It isn’t really about work, but to my much younger self I would say to pick up racing. I would like to go racing now and if I’d started at a young age maybe I would have the habit for it. It is an expensive hobby to ‘pick up’, but perhaps if I had done it from day 1 it would of helped me.
What is your favourite car that you have owned - and why?
A BMW 728i. It was incredibly reliable for me and huge inside - it feels like you’re in a portable living room. It so nice to be in an environment with lots of leather, wood, comfy seats, and at such a good price level. If I had a passenger they were in an equally comfortable seat, front & back. You smelled the leather, the engine was smooth... It was a 1998 car in a really cool green with a tan interior. Nice spec.
What is your least favourite car that you have owned - and why?
Because I deal in cars the worst car I’ve ever had was never with me - it was straight into an auction. It was a Talbot Lago T120 Baby that was a shed. It didn’t work.
What is a great example of a future classic in your opinion?
Already a classic, but the Bentley T2 is an incredibly under appreciated classic car. It’s such a beautiful car and a great engine - the way they were put together was fantastic in that period and they are just not expensive. A top flight one can be around £50.000. You get so much car for the money. They are really good cars, good looking and not many were made so it ticks all the boxes.
What has been your favourite ever classic car experience?
I have many, obviously. I’ll give you one with a car we currently have for sale! It’s a Mercedes 230SL Pagoda with a 280 engine, and a manual gearbox which is really good with those cars on longer journeys.
Natasha (my fiancé) and I took it to the New Forest on a really sunny day with a picnic in the back in a little wicker basket and a bottle of champagne.
We found a spot and popped open the bottle and picnic, relaxed in the sun looking at the vast green space with a beautiful car as the foreground.
Why did Graeme Hunt join HCVA?
I like the work they do within government, select-committee’s for promoting classic cars, and their importance. Also I deal with the DVLA a lot - and they are not necessarily very well tailored to dealing with requests from people like us who have very specific things that we have to do. Hopefully the work the HCVA do can alleviate these troubles longer term.
Why should HCVA members use your services?
Firstly, we have a good reputation and vast experience with Bentley and Rolls-Royces, our technicians are apprenticed by Rolls-Royce, our paint shop too. On top of this we have a wealth of experience in all manor of classic cars; Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Bristol (all these cars currently being worked on by our team).
We do very good quality work, we are transparent and honest and we are a nice family business. When you call us up there aren’t loads of different people who you talk to before you find the person you’re going to be dealing with. It's Graeme, Rupert or myself who answer the phone and we can do everything for you so it’s personal, easy and straightforward.