Motoring Book Publishers UK
To be an automotive book publisher had always been an ambition of mine. Having written about 20 motoring books, or motor books as I believe they are known in the USA, I took the plunge in 2005 and my wife and I formed Porter Press International Ltd.
My aim in whatever I have done in life, whether it be flying airships competitively or writing books, has been to strive to be the best. To be the best motoring book publisher is very much our intention with Porter Press. I believe we have built an unbeatable team of top professionals and I am very proud of that.
I was fanatical about cars from an early age and built up a large collection of Dinky Toys and other models made in the fifties and sixties, and still have them! At a very early age, I could name every car on the road; I couldn't do it now.
Before I was old enough to drive, I took up slot racing, starting with a Scalextric outfit and then building my own track and cars from scratch. After racing with my father every night, I joined a club and started doing national slot racing events. I was third in the first one I did, even though most were grown-ups, and then second in the National Junior Slot Racing Championships – after the winner cheated and should have been disqualified. The final consisted of four races and, after three, his tyres were worn right down and unusable. He changed them which was not allowed!
As soon I was 17, my parents helped me buy an Austin Healey Sprite and then I replaced that with an MG Midget, which Ralph Broad of Broadspeed fame did brilliant job of modifying up to half-race spec. Though still at school, I started sprinting and hillclimbing.
I then built a full-race Modsports Sprite, which was run by the respected Aldon Automotive company as their works car, winning 10 of my 12 events in 1970.
I then discovered old cars and, with values starting to take off, realised I had to buy whatever I could afford very quickly before they got out of reach financially. I purchased five Jaguar XKs in 1973, four of which I still have, and my historic E-types in 1976. Most were in need of restoration.
As a child I had collected serious motor books but never dreamt I would become a book publisher. However, a good friend called Nick Baldwin was Editor of 'Old Motor' magazine and a partner in a tiny publishing company. He commissioned me to write a book on Jaguars which, for various reasons, was published by Penguin. I subsequently wrote a number of books for Haynes Publishing, including pilots for several series, and the first in the popular 'Original' motoring books series for a small publisher. My most serious book in this period was 'Jaguar E-type, The Definitive History', which was awarded the Montagu Trophy by the Guild of Motoring Writers (or Guild of Muttering Rotters as I prefer to call it) for best Motoring Book of the Year. I would receive that award again a few years later when Paul Skilleter and I wrote the official biography of Sir William Lyons for Jaguar.
But I had always wanted to be a publisher of motor books as well as an author. When I became very friendly with Stirling Moss, who was Patron of our Jaguar XK Club, I discovered he had wonderful scrapbooks covering his amazing career. I told him I thought they would make great books and he said, and I quote, 'I think you are crazy but OK'!
I was on my way. We did four 'Stirling Moss Scrapbooks' together and several other Scrapbooks including one with the great Murray Walker, who has become another very great friend.
We did Scrapbooks on Graham Hill, Jaguar, Porsche 911 and Land Rover, and with Barry Cryer and Martin Brundle. Various awards followed, including Motorsport Book of the Year for 'Ultimate E-type, The Competition Cars'.
When Mark Hughes joined our editorial team, we attained a new level of professionalism. Mark and I had first worked together when he was Editor of 'Classic & Sports Car' magazine in the eighties and I was a freelance motoring journalist. Later he was Editorial Director of Haynes for many years. Mark heads up our Great Cars series which we claim to be the most prestigious series of motoring books ever produced.
Our authors include Doug Nye, Ian Wagstaff, Keith Bluemel, Ray Hutton, Richard Heseltine, Mick Walsh, Chas Parker, Mark Cole, James Page, Sir John Egan, Simon Ham and some chap called Philip Porter. I am honoured to be working currently on a book with the great Gordon Murray and we have some other very exciting books in the pipeline including one with Derek Bell.
Style and design are very important to us and it has been a privilege to work with Andy Garman for 20 years. He designs virtually all our books, and our XK Club and E-type Club monthly magazines, which are edited by James Page.
In our offices in our restored barns at my Worcestershire home of nearly 40 years, my wife Julie and I have a brilliant team, many of whom have been with us, working for our various companies, for many years - we like long-term professional relationships. We are also making an increasing number of videos in-house and Julie, being an actress, does all the voice overs.
We now have three series – Great Cars, Exceptional Cars and Porter Profiles, plus Bespoke books – but, even though we are growing the number of motor books, we apply the same high individual standards to every single one and are very proud to be book publishers – UK.