One for the Record, Riddelsdell Bros!
Riddelsdell Bros

One for the Record, Riddelsdell Bros!

Riddelsdell Bros in Boxford, Suffolk has recently made an application to be acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest automotive garage. Originally dispensing fuel for both the agricultural and motor trades when opened in 1900, it then became a three-wheeler motorbike manufacturer and car repairer along with the selling of motor vehicles.

Whilst petrol was sold there from its earliest days, the petrol pumps were not installed until 1917, coinciding with the growth of the internal combustion engine as a replacement for steam and horsepower. Since 2004, Riddelsdell Bros has been supplied by Gulf Retail and whilst the volumes are modest, the relationship is strong.

“We service clients from around the world and have grown the business on the values of trust, respect and passion,” explains owner, Howard Watts. “That also reflects our relationship with Gulf. We may not be the largest but I’d like to think that we are one of Gulf’s most interesting Dealers. Working with Gulf is important to us, not only is the Gulf name well respected across East Anglia but it reflects well with our ‘performance’ customers, many of whom are Porsche owners.”

The Gulf brand has been synonymous with Porsche since 1970 when the Porsche 917, in Gulf’s distinctive powder blue and orange livery, dominated sports car racing across the globe. Hollywood legend, Steve McQueen, raced a Gulf Porsche 917 in the film Le Mans, adding hugely to the Gulf Porsche racing heritage.

As a schoolboy, Howard would regularly pass Riddelsdell Bros on his way to his father’s garage business in Colchester, and dreamed of one day owning it.  He left school at 16 and went to work for BOC, moving through the ranks to become Export Sales Manager. Then 23 years ago the opportunity arose to buy his childhood dream and he did!

“It could be described as no more than a 100ft long working shed but to me, my staff, our customers and the local community it is an Emporium of wonders mixed with the very best of craftsmanship.” enthuses Howard. “We buy and sell classic and performance cars, provide MOTs and servicing, are an accredited tyre fitting business and of course, sell fuel. We also offer secure storage, transport and restoration. In our workshops today you will find a push bike, a lawnmower a Ford Fiesta and a Ferrari. Our reputation as specialists means that we work with cars from all eras and all price ranges. We are currently working on a 500bhp Subaru, a 1932 Austin 7 and 1973 Alfa Romeo Bertone Coupe.

Howard also has an impressive and internationally renowned car collection. It includes the only two Porsche 930/911 Martini Turbo cars; a 1961 Jaguar E-Type, Chassis Number 35, 3.8 fixed head coupe, known as the Spitfire E-Type with a substantial racing history with various owners during the 60s and 70s

Now Howard hopes to add another ‘acclaimed’ tally with the inclusion of Riddelsdell Bros garage in the Guinness World Records.  

“About 5 years ago and out of the blue, I was approached by The Times and the Telegraph asking whether I could authenticate the age of the garage,“ says Howard. “I could prove it has been a continuously operating garage since 1900, with deeds and numerous documents. Apparently, a garage in the US was claiming to be the oldest in operation having opened in 1909. One thing has led to another and now; since we can prove we have been operating since before that; we hope to have it officially endorsed. I think you’ll find we are the smallest Gulf filling station in the world too if anyone’s interested!”