The Car Guru: The Man Who Hunts All Things on Four Wheels

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Need for Speed: Getting Ready for a Spin on the Track
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Need for Speed: Getting Ready for a Spin on the Track

Buying a car can be a scary affair if you don't know your wheel nuts from your slip diff. But one man with a passion for all things four wheeled has made it his mission to tackle the mayhem of car buying.

Ashley Winston offers a very unique service. He promises to find you your ultimate drive, no matter what you're after. From Ford Fiestas to Ferrari 458s, Ashley's bespoke car finder business, Palmdale, has done it all.

A life of car love and an unlimited passion for motors fuels Ashley's drive to hunt out the perfect purchase for his customers. You get the impression that if he could own every one of the cars he finds for other people, he would. Except he'd need a car park the size of Wembley.

But what makes people willing to pay extra on top of buying their car for Ashley's help? We caught up with the Car Guru to delve a little deeper and find out how one passionate car fan turned his life's love into a paying career.

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When Did You Start Palmdale? And Why Cars?


Well I'm 40 now and started it 10 years ago, give or take. I worked in marketing and made the move into cars. I used to pretty much earn a salary just to buy cars. Even when I lived in the city and took the tube to work I still had three cars. 

Cars are something I've loved since I can remember, from model cars as a kid to my five-car collection now.

Ashley's Ford Mustang Still Needs a Lick of Paint
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Ashley's Ford Mustang Still Needs a Lick of Paint

What Cars Do You Own Now?


My pride and joy is my 1964 Ford Mustang, which I try to drive whenever I can. I have an Audi S6 which is my look-subtle-but-really-go car. Then I have a Jaguar S Type V8 just because if you want to do a long journey there's nothing better than wafting along in a Jag. I've got a little Mazda MX-5 that's setup for track days, so track suspension, wheels, tyres, stripped out and kitted with harnesses. And a Ford Fiesta, as chosen by my wife.

The Mustang is my favourite. First time I saw it there was no engine or interior, having sat in a Californian desert for 15 years. Now I've got it mechanically perfect and the interior is like brand new. But I've never quite got round to doing the outside so its still a bit matted and dented black – but I kind of like that whole style.

Purists will hate me for it but I've got a better gear box, slip rear diff, different wheels, brakes upgraded and a bit of bodywork to make it look a little more aggressive. I'll paint it one day but I've had it for 11 years now and love it.

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How Are Your Car Upgrading Skills Then?


Well I love cars, always have done. I love to drive them. I've done a few mechanic classes but I'm not that great at working on them.

I tried to upgrade a BMW 7 Series from the eighties. I bought a pair of upgraded wheels and fitted them myself. After just driving down the road one of the wheels fell off.  After that I had the realisation that despite wanting to be able to do it, this clearly isn't my skill set.
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What Top Tips Would You Offer Any Car Buyer?


If I had to give my top three tips they would be these:

1. If you don't like the person you're buying the car from, no matter what they tell you, don't buy it.

2. Before you go to see a car ask some detailed and difficult questions. How the questions are answered, rather than what they say, will show you who you're dealing with.

3. Don't be afraid to call in the experts, get the car checked out.

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How Do You Hunt Down the Cars?


We always start on eBay. We use other sites as well but eBay tends to have more emotionally connected people who have feelings attached to the car. 

We've found some great cars on eBay over the years that just weren't advertised anywhere else. Our business account has about 300 feedback from the time when we used to sell cars too, but my personal account is over 1,000 – I use it for everything.
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Who Calls on the Car Guru?


Our customers fall into two categories. The first knows nothing about cars, even going to a dealer scares them. People in the past have told me they know they're going to get ripped off so they rely on us. One guy had a £4k budget and he spent £600 on us for that peace of mind.

The second type of customer is those who don't have time. For those who earn £100k+ a year, the fee is worth it to save them the effort so they simply end up with what they want.

What Kind of Things Do People Ask For?

It varies. Some people keep it short and simple and leave us to it then we go back with a few options. Others have very specific needs. Some guys contact us twice a day – but that's what they're paying for so we're happy to help.

One guy actually waited for 11-months, which was our longest turn around. It was a really niche Alfa Romeo 159 request, but he was happy to wait until one came on the market. The quickest we ever had, by comparison, was a 4-day turn around. Ha, never again.

The Car Guru's Most Wanted Wheels: The Ferrari F40
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The Car Guru's Most Wanted Wheels: The Ferrari F40

Money No Object What Car Would You Have?


A Ferrari F40. I've always loved that car. It's got to be one of the best driving cars ever and it's beautiful in my eyes. Driving older Ferraris can be difficult but it's such a classic. They're now three quarters of a million pounds for the right spec one, so they're rare to see these days.
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Dream Drives


From the Ford Model A to the Escort Mk1 and, of course, the iconic Capri,   classic Fords are some of the most sought after wheels. Perhaps a vintage Ferrari is more your style. Or maybe you're the  Volkswagen Camper type. Check out  eBay's classic cars section, stop dreaming and start driving.
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