The story of Graypaul is a long and passionate one, one that has now gone full circle and is returning to its roots, whilst retaining everything Graypaul stands for today.
The business didn't begin as a Ferrari Sales or Service franchise, but instead it started in the depths of David Clarke’s Box factory; ultimately emerging as a product of his passion for the Prancing Horse.
David’s love of the ‘red cars from Modena’ started when he was just a child, the iconic ‘sight and sound’ of the insatiable cars that Ferrari created making it impossible for him not to fall in love.
Despite this obsession with cars, and having a strong engineering background, Clarke started out his working life as a film producer making films for oil companies, the BBC and ITV. It wasn't long however, before David found the families box business calling him back.
It was after re-joining the Leicestershire based box business that David began his stunning Ferrari collection, a collection that had, by 1971, grown to include six iconic and highly sought after cars; all of which were perfectly maintained by David and his dedicated engineer – 22 year old Robert Houghton.
Amidst his collection were examples of some truly outstanding Ferrari’s, all of which came with their own unique histories; there was very little that David didn't know about the cars in his collection. Possibly one of the most sought after and interesting cars was David’s Ferrari P4 which had seen a rich history in Motorsport.
It was this very car that had won at Daytona in 1967, when Ferrari managed to lock out the podium with their exquisite new racing car. This win at Daytona was an incredibly important result for Ferrari after having suffered under the reign of the Ford GT40 for so long. David’s P4 also broke the lap record at Le Mans during a test day but didn't get to race due to fire damage in practice. It was also the victim of a crash whilst leading the Targa Florio in 1967. Its final motorsport appearance came in the same year at the BOAC 500, where it took 5th place in the hands of Ludovico Scarfiotti and Peter Sutcliffe.
David’s unwavering expertise and perfectionism in restoring and maintaining his collection soon started to attract the attention of other enthusiasts who wanted to bring their own cars for maintenance to David’s workshop; which at this point was still located at the back of the Shepshed box factory. After starting to service and work on more and more Ferrari's for clients, in 1971 David named his Ferrari servicing business ‘Graypaul Motors Ltd’ and a legend was born.
In late 1977, Graypaul moved to Mountsorrel where it subsequently became an authorised service centre for Ferrari; at the same time, Cooper BMW of Rothley were the sales outlet.
In 1982 Cooper BMW were forced to part with Ferrari by BMW head office if they wished to remain with the brand in a move to make all BMW dealerships just a single franchise. This saw Ferrari offer the sales side of the business to David Clarke and the now established Graypaul.
With both sides of the franchise now under Clarke’s control he needed a new premises to house both Sales and Service. He purchased Shipsides Garage in The Coneries, Loughborough which opened in 1983 as the new Graypaul. Remaining under David Clarke's leadership at the Loughborough dealership for a number of years, David used his passion to see Graypaul go from strength to strength until he eventually sold the company in 1985 to Jim Wallis of the Otford Group.
David didn't just sell his pride and joy to the highest bidder however; Jim was already one of Graypaul’s very best customers, sharing in David’s undying passion for the Ferrari family and the beautiful cars they produce, with day to day business under the direction of Ivan Bishop who remained until his retirement in the early 90's. Unfortunately, Jim passed away in 1995, leaving behind a company that he had guided through its glory days.
Jim’s sad passing left the incredibly successful Graypaul and its extraordinarily rich heritage up for sale. Luckily the business was once again purchased by a true Ferrari enthusiast, this time in the form of 1988 Touring Car Champion Frank Sytner. Sytner had already had a relationship with the Ferrari Brand in the early 70's being an appointed Dino dealer, but like Coopers, they parted company to focus solely on BMW. So its almost fitting that Ferrari came back under his wing.
Under the impeccable leadership of Frank, the business was brought out of dark times and back to being one of the best and most respected dealerships in the UK; something that was reflected in 1999 when Frank Sytner opened another Graypaul dealership in Sheffield.
With Sales Manager Mario Vignali, Graypaul continued to go from strength to strength as Mario also found himself falling in love with these beautiful cars. The feelings that these cars promote can be felt throughout Graypaul’s history, it’s through these feelings that Graypaul originated and it was, and still remains incredibly important that they echo throughout the long story that is Graypaul.
In 2002 Frank Sytner sold the entire Sytner empire to United Auto Group, once again seeing Graypaul’s ownership handed to a world renowned Ferrari enthusiast, Roger Penske. Roger’s love of Ferrari has been shown many times throughout the years, perhaps the most potent example of this was when he was the head of a team that raced the iconic Sunoco Ferrari 512M.
Despite being a team that was repeatedly struck with bad luck, never winning a race, they are still praised today as having written one of the most important racing stories of the 1970s. Through Roger Penske’s insatiable love of Ferrari and racing, the team re-envisioned how a racing team should be operated; leaving a never dimming example of how precise, disciplined and spotless a racing team should really be.
In the years to come Glenvarigill in Edinburgh became part of the Graypaul family as did Maranello at Tower Garage in Egham, along with the Maranello Classic Parts business, the only authorised distributor for Ferrari Classic Parts worldwide.
In 2004, Graypaul Loughborough & Sheffield were consolidated into one single building. It is in the dealership on Lenton Lane in Nottingham that the Graypaul name still calls home. It seems only natural; therefore, that Graypaul Classic Cars makes its home here.
Celebrating a simply incredible journey through time, it signifies Graypaul's venture into the next era and the name's impeccable reputation for only the very highest quality.
For more than 60 years, Ferrari cars have been eagerly sought after by classic car collectors the world over. One of the main functions of the Ferrari Classiche department is to issue Certificates of Authenticity to road-going Ferraris over 20 years old and all Ferrari competition cars, including Formula 1 single-seaters of any age. The Certificates officially attest to the cars’ authenticity and also provide important documentation for buyers should the certified vehicles ever be sold on. Another advantage is that all certified cars are permitted to take part in official Ferrari events including, for instance, the Shell Ferrari Historic Challenge, which takes place in Europe and North America.
During the certification process, the cars undergo a thorough inspection at the Classiche HQ in Maranello, or can be carried out locally by a Factory Authorised Representative, Using Ferrari's extensive historical archives, a committee of experts known as COCER (Certification Committee), chaired by Ferrari Vice President Piero Ferrari, evaluates the technical characteristics of each car put forward for certification. This technical examination of the car is the most important step in the process. It reveals whether the car is fully functioning, and if its chassis, engine, gearbox, transmission, suspension, brakes, wheels, bodywork and interior are original or at least comply with the original specifications.
Certificate for cars of historical interest:
Introduced in 2009, the certificate is issued for cars from Ferrari, which are not considered to be authentic in the sense of determined criteria in the area of certification, but comply with the following requirements:
- in the actual configuration the car has taken part in national or international competitions, or
- the actual configuration of the car is the result of modifications carried out by designers/coachbuilders of international fame within 10 year of the car’s construction date and has taken part in car shows or Concours d’Elegance or published in prestigious special magazines.
These requirements are the essential condition for Ferrari to release the certificate, to then for example participate in the Shell Historic Challenge Championship and other events organised by Ferrari for historical cars