We catch up with James Batty, the man be­hind Auto Fi­nesse, to talk about how the com­pany started, what’s next and his pen­chant for pizza

Fast Car - - Contents -

It’s hard to imag­ine to­day’s scene with­out Auto Fi­nesse, the coolest UK brand in car de­tail­ing. This is even more amaz­ing con­sid­er­ing they didn’t even ex­ist six years ago. Now their prod­ucts are sold world wide, and their pres­ence and in­flu­ence is felt at shows across the UK and Europe. We caught up with man­ag­ing di­rec­tor James Batty for a good old yak about cars, car care and fast food.…

FC: Auto Fi­nesse has been trad­ing for five years now. How did it all start?

James: “Well we are mov­ing in to year five with the prod­ucts, but it all started back in 1999, clean­ing and de­tail­ing cars. We then made some prod­ucts to sell as kits with our valet­ing ser­vices and it all kicked off from there, as ev­ery­one seemed to love them.”

How did you go about de­cid­ing on the style of your brand back then?

“We wanted to cre­ate a pre­mium feel that was a bit dif­fer­ent to what was al­ready avail­able on the mar­ket. The logo was a real labour of love though and the la­bel de­sign took three months to fi­nalise.”

Why do you think peo­ple have taken so mas­sively to your brand?

“I think it comes down to the peo­ple be­hind the brand. We are all true car en­thu­si­asts, most of the guys here (and even some of the girls) have project cars and are in to their cars. That, and the fact we prac­tice what we preach.”

There seems to be a lot of com­pa­nies try­ing to copy your style. Is im­i­ta­tion the big­gest form of flat­tery, or a pain in the arse?

“It’s ac­tu­ally taken by us as a form of con­fir­ma­tion that we are do­ing some­thing right.”

One thing we love about you guys is that you im­merse your­self into the mod­i­fied car scene. Was this al­ways your fo­cus? And if so, why?

“I’ve per­son­ally al­ways been in to cars – even be­fore I was old enough to drive. And I try to sur­round my­self with like-minded peo­ple. The project cars you see us build­ing are ac­tu­ally a bit of a team bond­ing ex­er­cise. We get the piz­zas and beers in, then get stuck into the projects.”

How much re­search and thought goes into bring­ing a new prod­uct to the mar­ket?

“It de­pends re­ally. Some­times stuff just drops into place and it all comes to­gether quite quickly. Some­times it’s the op­po­site. One prod­uct that didn’t [sim­ply fall into place], was our tyre cream, Satin. That was like push­ing wa­ter up­hill for al­most a year be­fore we cracked it.”

Do you have any new launches planned for 2017?

“Oh yes. We have some re­ally cool new ad­di­tions lined up for this year.”

Any clues, or is it all top se­cret?

“Just wait and see!”

Boo. We wanted an ex­clu­sive scoop! Any­way, why do you think it is so im­por­tant to keep your car clean?

“First im­pres­sions count, no doubt, and a clean car sets the tone. But it also helps main­tain the over­all aes­thetic ap­pear­ance of your ve­hi­cle.”

If you could give our read­ers one tip when clean­ing their car, what would it be?

“I could go on for­ever. But my best ad­vice would be to get your wash process right first. It’s the most im­por­tant part, and the foun­da­tion of any de­tail­ing work, as well as the main­tain­ing fac­tor of that de­tail­ing work. So a good wash mitt, two buck­ets,

a de­cent dry­ing towel and a drop of good sham­poo is where any­one should look at start­ing.”

What ad­vice would you give to some­one who’s think­ing of start­ing his or her own busi­ness within the mod­i­fied car com­mu­nity?

“Don’t fol­low ev­ery­one else. Try to find your an­gle and point of dif­fer­ence. Dif­fer­ent stands out.”

You’re known in the scene for build­ing some awe­some demo cars. What’s your mod­i­fy­ing ethos when com­ing up with the build ideas and have you al­ways been into mod­i­fied cars?

“Al­ways have a vi­sion for the fin­ished car in your head and work to­wards that, don’t de­vi­ate. So of­ten you see cars that have kinda ‘fallen to­gether’ from what was read­ily avail­able. Sure some parts might be hard to find, but a well thought out build should al­most look like the man­u­fac­ture might have built it that way.”

You can’t ar­gue with that! We know you love your Ger­man rides, but have you ever thought about build­ing a Jap mo­tor?

“Jap and Ford are both on our radar. Jap very much so, with a Dat­sun we are al­ready build­ing – this one’s just tak­ing a bit longer than usual, due to parts be­ing in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to source.”

What’s next for Team AF?

“We are just in the process of mov­ing to a new fa­cil­ity that should re­ally open up what we are ca­pa­ble of do­ing with the prod­uct range, the web­site and our over­all cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Thanks James. We look for­ward to vis­it­ing when you’re moved in. Just make sure you’ve got some milk in the fridge next time though!

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