You’ll have heard his voice on BBC Radio Humberside, maybe talking about an English country garden and gardeners’ problems with theirs, with his co-presenter Doug. You may have seen him in the park, presenting some musical classics to a well-oiled audience. Now, Blair Jacobs has planted the seeds of a new business, at a discreet location in the East Yorkshire countryside – Pipe Dreams Classic Cars Ltd.
HULL IS THIS editor Jerome Whittingham made a visit.
Blair’s passion for classic cars has never been a secret, but until now had only been a hobby.
Let’s get the details of the business out of the way first.
Pipe Dreams offers classic car owners three essential services.
There’s sales. Calling on his vast experience of buying and selling classic cars, Blair will help owners to source the car of their dreams, or to find new owners for cars that are being sold, maybe as the owners trade up to another dream purchase.
There’s safe and secure storage.
“We’ve got just under 6,000 square feet of very clean, very dry, secure, discreet storage that we can look after people’s cars in. They can either bring them in and just park them here. Or the cars can go on a trickle charge, with a cover over it. Or we can do a full service in terms of running the engines up to temperature,” said Blair.
Owners’ cars will even be moved regularly whilst in storage, to avoid ‘square tyre’ damage, a problem common to vehicles that sit static for extended periods of time.
Finally, there’s safe transport of owners’ classic cars, in Pipe Dreams’ 17-foot covered trailer.
Blair said: “Our trailer will take virtually any car, and it’s covered. So the car leaves and arrives in exactly the same condition as when I collected it. The last thing anybody wants, if they’re taking a car to either a rally or a show, they’ve spent probably the better part of a day or two polishing the thing, they don’t want it to be collected and then suddenly a rain shower hits and it’s filthy. Our covered trailer ensures a car stays pristine in transit.”
That’s the essential business services covered, then.
Classic cars, though, as any owner will tell you, are not just commodities to be traded and warehoused. Each has a unique history that has to be understood. Each has an individual character. Each has particular needs that an owner needs to meet.
A temporary guardian of a classic car will need experience, knowledge, understanding, and passion. Blair has this, in gallons.
We turned to look at a car that Blair is currently restoring, an MGB roadster which he bought in boxes.
“My daughter’s called this one ‘Molly’. At the beginning of lockdown I wanted a project I could do. There’s no rust, no welding to be done. Someone had bought it, done the bodywork, and the rest had just sat in boxes until I bought it.”
Blair continues to recount the work he’s done on the car over the last few months. In fact you can watch how progress on Molly has been made by following along on Youtube.
“That, to me, that’s therapy,” said Blair.
“People have their classic cars for different reasons. I’ve always believed that cars like this should be looked after, they should be cherished, but they were built to be driven!”
Blair points to an ‘e-type jag’, sitting in the covered trailer, awaiting transporting to a restorer, and we discuss whether classic cars can be considered art?
“That’s going to have an awful lot of money spent on it by the owner, and it will be in pristine condition when it comes back. If you look at it now, it’s an ex American car. It’s come over from the States. There’s no windscreen in it. It’s rusty here and there. It will be completely stripped. It’s still beautiful as it is, a classically beautiful car. When it comes back, it’ll be stunning.”
Art or not, the car is certainly beautiful engineering and design, we agree.
I dared to suggest to Blair that he’s talking about cars, his love and care for them, in the way we might talk about a family’s cherished pet dog. In my mind I was even thinking he’s setting up a high-class, top-end, boarding kennel for people’s much loved classic cars, but I didn’t go that far verbally.
He points to the Triumph Stag we’re standing beside.
“The first owner was my dad. That car will never leave me. That is part of my family. And I’ve got a model of that car, I’ll show you, it’s upstairs in a box. So it’s a very special car to me.
“If I had the house to do it, I wouldn’t put it in the sitting room, but it would be enveloped within a part of the house. You know, it’d be behind a glass wall in the garage. It’s a beautiful thing. Most classic cars are beautiful things,” he said.
For much of his media career, Blair has been telling stories, and giving others a platform on-air to tell theirs.
“I’ve had a fabulous career in media and I love it. I’m still passionate about broadcasting. I’m passionate about local broadcasting in particular. If there are stories to be told, I love to tell those stories,” he said.
However, as he ended his 20-years in the presenter’s chair of BBC Radio Humberside’s Sunday Breakfast towards the end of 2019, he began to dream of other ventures. Then, as Covid-19 brought the country to a standstill, giving many the space to think and dream, his thoughts turned to action as he established Pipe Dreams Classic Cars.
“I haven’t given up my media company,” said Blair. “That’s really important to me, I love doing it, and I have some great clients. But the lockdown did set my mind going, asking myself ‘what else could I be doing?’”
Blair concluded: “I think a lot of it is about memories. You will remember cars that your parents had, and the cars that took you on holiday. We do memories very well. That was brought home to me doing the soapbox on BBC Radio Humberside. People were talking about memories of doing this and that, and many people had a story about a car.
“There are two or three cars in here that are very personal to me, because they have stories that go with it.”
Pipe Dreams, it is apparent, is not just safe storage for classic cars, it’s a warehouse for stories and memories too.
To find out more about Blair’s continuing media and communications business, see: www.blairjacobs.co.uk
[Jerome Whittingham, editor HULL IS THIS]