Is it the cars you love so passionately, or is it their stories – who created them, made them, owned them, what has been done in them? Or are you one of the many enthusiasts for whom, like us, the cars and their stories are simply inseparable?
Pembroke’s Players are a modern-day band of storytellers drawn together by the current Earl of Pembroke to share his passion for the cult of the car.
They’re named after one of William Shakespeare’s first touring theatre companies, which existed under the patronage of the 2nd Earl in the late 1500s.
Do you – or your car – have a story to tell? Click here
Schoolboy, student, car fan. Then, with a deft hop, three decades spent working with cars. Racing cars to be precise, exquisitely shaped and tuned metal, seen through the prism of journalist then editor of his childhood weekly read: Autosport. Now a freelancer of some 20 years, Bruce is still writing about the machines that excite him, but has added commentary for radio and TV. Still lusting after an Aston Martin DB4, as he did when he was five, Bruce’s current love is the GT racing scene where the supercars go out to play.
Carlo grew up fascinated by fast cars and beautiful objects, beginning his career at 19 as an apprentice designer for VW in Barcelona. He studied automotive and product design at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, and spent two years honing his skills at Italdesign Giugiaro. In 2011 Carlo reunited with childhood friend Fabio de Silva and founded BorromeodeSilva, an independent design studio for automotive and luxury consumer goods. The studio handles product and car design and product development, and in 2014 Carlo also became creative director of a ‘customisation’ firm called Garage Italia Customs… He’s traveled much of the world by car, driving a Fiat Panda from Milan to Ulan Bator, Mongolia. He’s driven his Mustang from San Fran to New York and then on to Buenos Aires, and crossed the USA with a beloved Mv Agusta F4. He’s also taken a Land Rover all over India – the most insane experience so far – and has now set his sights on Africa.
The man behind the storied ‘Beast of Turin’, aka the Fiat S76, raced motorbikes until he was 17 but stopped because he ‘crashed a lot’. The building of a Fraser Nash saw him enter into the world of the VSCC and since then he has become one of the top competitors in VSCC circles. He has driven his Bugatti T35 to the Monaco Historique on three occasions, won races just about everywhere, and continues to fill his workshop with projects that would daunt the keenest of petrolheads. Never one to rest on his laurels, Duncan now has his hands full of another highly significant project, having made such a success of the Beast of Turin. Expect to hear more on the subject in due course ...
Eugenio is a man of first principles. An entrepreneur and businessman living near Milano, he has professional interests ranging from real estate to healthy street food. A serious person who doesn’t take himself too seriously, he is also a racer of cars, a collector of very particular cars, and a creator of extremely special cars – bespoke builds that no manufacturer has the attention to detail or presence of mind to create themselves. He takes great cars, and gives them a detail and form that sets them wholly apart from the norm. Creating beauty is his driving force. In fact, he tells us, he is a beauty addict, in everything he does, and makes, and believes. His first love is his kids and his family, but certain kinds of cars have a place in his being that makes them icons of an age and miraculous objects of creation. And he’s owned and driven a lot of them.
Giles Chapman started in magazine publishing in 1985 as a fetcher of tea on Classic & Sports Car magazine. By 1991, he was appointed editor of that same august journal having already launched another classic car mag in the interim. He now freelances across a huge variety of media including glossy magazines and quality newspapers. He's written 40 books on diverse car-related subjects, and his title My Dad Had One Of Those has sold over 180,000 copies, making it one of the best-selling car books ever. He also appears from time to time on TV and radio, sometimes as one half of the self-styled Grumpy Motoring Journalists. (We don’t think he’s grumpy at all…)
Hugo Spowers has been dedicated to all things mechanical and in particular to truly remarkable cars all his working life, whether restoring Jaguar D Types for the racetrack or designing the most radical eco cars. Never afraid of a clean sheet of paper, he sold his restoration business in the late ‘90s, did an MBA and started all over again – not knowing what he was going to do, but that it was going to be nothing to do with cars! Since then, he has been designing hyper-efficient hydrogen fuel cell cars. The Riversimple Rasa, the first road legal Riversimple car after various research projects, has been on the road since February 2016 and is definitely turning heads.
Oil paint and gasoline flow equally through the veins of this Art World doyen. Generally found in the studios of artists cooking up ideas and exploring creativity, he is happiest in the garage under one of his two Series II Land Rovers cooking up engines and exploring axles. There has always been a relationship between art and cars. The Wilton House collection is one of the most celebrated examples of that love affair between fine art and the automobile, and the passion of a collector to enjoy the pleasure of both. But Johnny Messum hasn’t joined the ranks of the Pembroke Players to talk about painting, but to discuss an overlooked part of the automobile story – the passion of the makers, designers and engineers to conceive, make and market beautiful ideas that are artworks in their own right.
When not poolside, Balme is immersed in old cars, graphic design, art, music, fashion, architecture, photography, old-fashioneds - you name it, he's probably got his nose in it. He is still designing books brochures and creating marketing campaigns for the classic car and art world as well as regularly contributing written pieces to various magazines. In a previous life he produced record and CD sleeves, many of which are no doubt gathering dust in your loft or vying for shelf space at the local charity shop… In his garage are nearly a dozen cars - none of which are particularly valuable but all spectacular in their own little way. All come with a great back story, mostly of Julian's making, whether on race tracks or deserted two-lane prairie roads…
Professor Peter Stevens is one of the world's most sought-after automotive designers, and so might you be if your CV included designing the McLaren F1 road car. Peter also gets the designer credit for the MG X-Power SV, MG TF, Jaguar XJR-15, Prodrive Subaru World Rally Championship-winning car, Lotus Esprit MkII, Lotus Excel and Elan SE as well as BMW’s 1999 Le Mans winner. Recent projects he’s not allowed to talk about yet include low-cost vehicles for transportation in developing countries, and a high performance electric race car and road vehicles. A legend!
Richard is the youngest son of the late Victor Gauntlett who famously purchased Aston Martin Lagonda in 1981 when it was in dire straits and brought it back into profit. With such a background it is no wonder that Richard has a deep love and detailed knowledge of all things automotive. Automobilia expert, designer and creative consultant, for eight years Richard ran the Gauntlett Gallery in Chelsea which was a Mecca for those who loved the art and artefacts associated with the automotive genre. It became so popular with the auto-aesthete of Town that he could barely get away, and so Richard decided to kill the costs and work one-to-one instead. It is no surprise that his automotive tastes are heavily influenced by his general aesthetic.
Richard Heseltine is a non-award-winning journalist who specialises in classic cars and motor racing history. He writes regularly for Classic & Sports Car, Motor Sport, Octane and Classic Cars and has authored several books, some of which have even been published. When he isn’t busy being unrelated to a Tory grandee with whom he shares a surname, he likes listening to Half Man Half Biscuit albums. That, and endlessly watching 1960s and ’70s TV shows that, by rights, should have been consigned to history’s dustbin. Richard is single and looking for love in all the wrong places.
A chance encounter in a car park at Silverstone when he was 19 saw Richard join the founding Editorial team of Classic and Sportscar magazine in the mid-80s. After a few years there putting all those years of reading car mags under the bedclothes to good use, he got involved in electronic publishing, albeit before the internet had started, and lost a ton of money in the process. A safer stint followed writing and presenting what at the time became Britain’s most popular car TV series before he teamed up with Lord March at Goodwood where he was responsible for delivering the Festival of Speed and then Revival for over 10 years. After a decade abroad doing non-auto stuff he bumped into his neighbour, Lord Pembroke. And so the all-new WCS is here.
Rose grew up with classic cars thanks to a Dad who is a well-known name in the Bugatti and Hispano world, and who picked his daughter’s middle name of Atalante from the Bugatti back catalogue. Her happiest memories have been ‘bizarre adventures chasing classic cars’ with him, although her choice of Amilcar as classic transport ensures she’s making plenty of unique memories of her own. As well as sharing content as one of Lord Pembroke’s band of Players, Rose runs her own Crankhandle blog, and is committed to spreading her love of classic and vintage machinery to the widest possible audience.
A multilingual classic car commentator and columnist, consultant and entrepreneur, above all Simon is recognised as a deeply knowledgeable adviser on the purchase and sale of rare classics. His company has been responsible for the sale of some of the world’s highest-value motor cars. More recently, with the aim of shedding light on the frequently obscure world of car collecting, Simon devised and launched K500 – an online resource that gives honest and unbiased insights into the market. He’s a judge at Pebble Beach, ‘the voice’ of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, and is also working on the definitive book on the Lamborghini Miura as part of a mission to help record automotive history ‘before it’s too late’.
In a previous life Stefan was a creative director at Aardman Animation, working on a wide range of exciting TV idents, commercials and films. That all changed five years ago when he jumped ship and became the film-maker and photographer for Bloodhound SSC. At the same time, he also started to document the build of the monstrous Beast of Turin. It was the beginning of a wonderful adventure, full of hair-raising rides, stunning machinery and terrific friends, he says. “I’ve tried to capture the fun in any way I can - usually with a camera, but sometimes with a sketchpad and pencil too.”
The man who mentored a young Chris Harris in the art of driving sideways and no-nonsense car reviewing, honed his art as a road-tester at Autocar magazine when the title’s credibility was at its most unassailable. Now freelance, he appears on the DRIVE channel, evo, and Auto Express. If you’ve ever wondered just how handy a top car reviewer needs to be, Honda found out when it chucked Steve the keys to its RA 107 Formula 1 car on the Silverstone International Circuit in ’07. He clocked 178mph on the back straight, and lapped in 48.58secs – just 4 tenths behind Honda’s F1 test driver. Steve is one of that rare breed blessed with both the skill to go truly fast, and the imagination to tell the rest of us how terrifying that can be.
Tom ‘Wookie’ Ford is one of those irritating people who seem to lead a charmed life, and whose smile only falters when hungry. He’s associate editor of BBC TopGear Magazine, formerly the road test editor of CAR, and writes, presents and produces for various forms of telly, magazines and newspapers. Most kinds of which include cars and usually some sort of fire. In-between filming, he concentrates mainly on outrageous automotive travel/adventure stories, usually unsupported, and with a healthy dose of plausible deniability on behalf of the health and safety people. You’ll usually find him somewhere in the world, in a wholly inappropriate supercar, trying desperately to stop things exploding…
The instigator of WCS has an innate love for anything motorised, which stemmed from growing up hooked on ‘80s TV shows such as Knightrider, The A-Team and The Dukes of Hazzard. Will Pembroke’s passion for motoring is all inclusive - from modified street cars to supercars, pre-war race cars to ‘60s Italian sports cars, with a little Detroit muscle thrown in. His racing exploits include 5 seasons of the VW Funcup with his team ‘Ecurie Escargot’, resulting in 14 podium finishes and a win at one of the five Spa 25hr races he’s completed. He’s also competed in a Saker GT car, and raced a Jaguar D Type at Le Mans. The responsibility of running the Wilton Estate fell on the young Earl of Pembroke’s shoulders aged 25. He still managed to pursue other passions, and in 2009 founded the first car event at Wilton – which consisted of one burger van, one hotdog van, and 60 supercars!