On a cold and snowy morning we popped over to DK Engineering to catch up with James Cottingham.
James, this is my first time up at DK Engineering and I realise I don’t know how long you have been running for?
Well, 1977 is when it was officially founded by my parents, however, it was always an ongoing concern, as a hobby with real jobs on the side. So this year we will celebrate 42 years. I have taken a more prominent role in the last five years but my father is still in every day.
Are there any rules that your father established that you continue to work by?
One thing that he has always strived for is perfection, we would never do a half baked job, we would actively encourage clients to spend the most they could on a car and make it tip top and make it almost like a car that we would restore for ourselves. No cutting corners or quick fixes, just the finest sub contractors, parts and materials.
So you have a set of subcontractors you like to work with to support your offering to clients?
A lot of our business is management, we have international clients who leave their car with us, and within one email or one phone call, we can arrange for their car to be ready for a rally or race.
Everything that goes into that; storing a car, extracting it from storage, getting it serviced. If we aren’t the best people to do it, we will find the best people in the industry to sort it out. For example, if it’s a guy that wants to go racing, and he has a Cobra, we will say ‘we can run this car, however, we know this person who is the guy to go to for Cobras’. We know what needs to be done to their car and we know how it needs to be done, so we will manage it for them as part of our services.
The guys that can afford these sorts of cars are typically busy people that have very little time, so we always try to make sure our service to our clients is an all-encompassing service. In terms of the rules from my father, it’s just to do the right thing.
Last year we followed you guys around Tour Auto in the iconic ‘1MUF’ GT40, what are you planning on entering this year?
This year Smithy (Andrew Smith) and I will be aiming to take a Cobra, we planned on taking it last year, however, unfortunately, the restoration wasn’t complete, and it will be very touch and go this year too!
I’m really looking forward to it and the challenge of driving something different because over the past few years we have shown that we can be very dominant in the GT40, despite there being other GT40s on the rally, no one has really come close to us. It would be nice to show this year that it’s not just the car… in theory!
Sounds like a good plan, where else are we going to be seeing DK this year?
This year is a bit quieter as there’s no Monaco Historic or Le Mans Classic. However, we are doing Tour Auto, Modena Cento Ore, Salon Prive, Pebble Beach and Goodwood of course! Obviously every day is an event at DK! We always have something going on here but I am also excited to focus more on growing the business.
That brings me onto my next question, have there been any changes to the business over the past six months?
We have upgraded our storage facility, we have space for another 60 cars now, which is specifically for our overseas clients. I’d like to look at building another showroom at some point, however the pause on that at the moment is us awaiting planning permission. I’d also like to get more of an archive going, we have 42 years worth of fascinating history waiting to be digitalised.
You mentioned the Cento Ore, last year you rather spectacularly drove with your father, this year I hear you are taking your Fiancé?
I asked Frida if she’d like to come, she jumped at the chance, so we are going to do it in the competition Daytona again. Frida’s a competitive girl and she likes cars, so it could make or break us. We are supposed to be getting married in August, it’s a bit of a test run! I’ll be doing all the competition driving, but she will do a bit of the road driving element and covering the pace notes. I can’t wait.