For local enthusiasts, the names ‘Abbot’ and ‘Porsche’ go hand in hand. It’s no wonder, with John Abbot’s showroom and workshop having been a mainstay in supporting the famed brand for years. Even if you didn’t own one of Stuttgart’s finest, the perfect placement of the company building in Kyalami Office Park meant that one could ogle the exotica while on the way to watch the racing action from the equally iconic Fat Arnie’s pub, located on the outside of Kyalami Racetrack’s Nashua corner. Fat Arnie’s has gone and so too has John Abbot’s outfit, but the family ties live on with son Tim continuing the legacy from his own Abbot Cars set-up near Crowthorne.
With Porsche having dominated the business, the plan was to put 100% focus on the brand – a plan that petrified John but one that the family carried through, thanks to encouragement from Judy. She was the driving force, finding the location and handling the design of the building (it was the second building in what we now know as Kyalami Business Park and was located where the base of the old Dunlop bridge sat on the old main straight).
Kyalami Business Park grew around the family and all fears that the move would not work were laid to rest, with Abbot becoming a saleable operation. John and Judy kept the building but sold the business and Tim kept part ownership of the workshop, while at the same time running it. But by 2004 he was ready to go his own way. With encouragement from a dedicated client base, he moved out of the Kyalami outfit and set up Abbot Cars from the family home in Beaulieu, servicing, rebuilding and restoring air-cooled Porsches. Part of the deal was that he kept the lifts, specialist tools, workshop equipment (that for the most part was gained during the Servishell deal decades ago) and also the safe that had moved with the family from the original premises to Kyalami. Tim still treasures these tools and equipment and makes use of them to service cars today.
It’s an awesome, passionate-feeling set-up of sprawling garages and workshops that, with the focus being on air-cooled restorations and services, are mostly filled with classic Porsche projects. There are several Volkswagens too (a few Kombis and a Lolette beach buggy) and Tim’s two-wheeled obsession is given away by a number of motorcycles and loads of bicycles.
Tim’s bicycle passion started at a young age. He was initially drawn to them for the fun aspect and mechanical appreciation, but soon a competitive streak appeared and what followed was track racing. From the age of 15 he moved through the Juvenile, Junior and Senior ranks, scooping 16 national titles and a bronze medal at the 2002 World Championship. In the 1980s he took up circuit motorcycle racing aboard both 125cc and 250cc two-stroke machines. He gave it a full go on the national circuit until work commitments and costs, combined with his focus on cycling, saw this take a back seat.
The trophy cabinet is not only filled with two-wheeled accolades but also a host of Porsche Club and national Concours d’Etat awards – this being the class where both originality and condition play a part in determining a winner.
Today, the trophies, bikes and memorabilia of the family business set the emotive backdrop to Tim’s workplace where he is more often than not quietly rebuilding Porsche engines and gearboxes, readying them to be fitted to beautifully restored machines where the smallest of details have been thoroughly researched and put back to factory spec and finish.