This Father’s Day, we sat down with a father-son duo who help us understand the impact of petrolhead fathers in our lives.
Being an auto enthusiast is a full time hobby. Whether browsing Ebay or Craigslist for parts or new projects, working under the hood of your current project(s) or attending car meets or shows, being a car guy/girl is highly involving. However, the question we’re asking today is, how do people become car enthusiasts in the first place?
Let’s face it; few people are born with an innate interest for cars. They pick it up from their friends, their parents, their neighbourhood or somewhere else. However, I have always believed that petrolhead fathers have had a very important role to play in their children’s eventual interest in four wheeled machines. Whether it was casual wrenching on a Sunday afternoon, or whether they took you to your first race or your first motorshow, the impact that it left on you only pushed you further into the realm of being a gasoline-blooded car enthusiast.
I came across such a story, where a car enthusiast and his father have formed a close bond over their love for cars. Since today is Father’s Day, I thought it only fair to share it with you.
There are very few people that I have come across that truly eat, sleep and breathe cars. Phil McGovern is one of them. His name crops up repeatedly in motoring circles around the region and even around the world, and he has also featured in the Bandit’s adventures (Remember Mr. P?). So, who is this gentleman, and why have I chosen him as the centre of this story?
Born and raised in the Middle East, the young Phil got his first taste of automobilia back in the UK, when as a teenager, all his friends’ fathers were involved in the automotive industry to varying degrees. Originally drawn to aviation, he developed a passion for road-going machines. One thing led to another and he was interning for Jaguar at the age of eighteen, giving him an opportunity to get an inside look at the car industry, one that he would fully embrace.
A few years later, a fateful phone call told him there was a position open at Jaguar Land Rover in Dubai. A week later, Mr. and Mrs. McGovern found themselves firmly on Arabian soil. While working at JLR, Phil founded crankandpiston.com, a website that quickly became one of the leading automotive outlets in the region. When his superiors asked him to choose between his job and his new creation, he chose the latter.
That, is where I met Phil, in 2013 during an internship for Crank and Piston. With seemingly boundless energy, this gent could come up with ideas that I had thought were beyond impossible. For Phil, however, there were no limits.
In 2013, he left Crank and Piston to breathe life into his latest idea, Caffeine and Machine. The concept was simple, get some cool cars together, have a coffee and some good conversation. Simplicity often works best, and so did C&M.
It was at one of these events that I met Phil’s father, Alan. From then on, I noticed that he attended every event that Phil hosted, taking a growing role each time. Mountain drives, C&M events, photoshoots or anything else, Alan was there to support Phil in every way he could.
Sitting down with Phil and his Dad recently, I quizzed them about how they got into cars. Phil quickly charted out how he had come to the present, by using cars as markers.
First there was a quick succession of VW Beetles, which turned into a VW camper van. The van was sold to make place for a Blutorange Porsche 912(which is still in the family today, after having undergone an extensive restoration). A hot-rodded Cal-look Beetle, a 356 and a Mk2 Golf made it through the fleet, before the McGoverns ended up in Dubai. Here, the current fleet includes a Porsche 993 RS, a 964 RS, the aforementioned 912, a 1957 Beetle, a Mk6 Golf and an E92 M3. Throw in a Jaguar or a Land Rover company car here and there and you have a rather diverse set of wheels.
Now, maintaining such an extensive fleet is a commitment for even a diehard petrolhead. For the McGoverns, it was always a two-man task.
Whenever they made any car-related decisions, both Phil and Alan made the decision together. While Phil may have a gala time with the cars (he took the 912 on track just for laughs), the elder McGovern is happy to keep a watch on his son, as fathers do, to make sure he doesn’t get up to too much mischief behind the wheel.
Conversely, Phil has always maintained that his father has been the driving force behind most of his ideas, supporting him in every way possible and I can certainly attest to that. Being a person who is constantly brimming with ideas is one thing, but having a support system that you can rely on to help make them happen is another, and Phil is truly fortunate that his is a strong one.
If I must be honest, I don’t think I’ve seen a better example of a father and son petrolhead combination that are so deeply invested into cars. To give you an idea, all air-cooled RS models have become worth their weight in gold over the last few years. Yet, both the cars in the McGovern’s garage are daily driven. They’re cars after all, so one might as well enjoy them.
Now as Phil’s own sons, Charley and Max, get to the age where they can properly appreciate cars, I have no doubt that both Dad and Granddad will be more than willing to help them navigate the waters of the car scene. After all, the only thing better than being a car enthusiast yourself is if you can pass it down to your children. While Alan may roll his eyes from time to time at his son’s antics, I have no doubt that he is proud of the man Phil is today.
So, this Father’s Day, take some time out and spend it with your Dad. Whether he is a car enthusiast or not, he did have a hand in helping you get to where you are today and that in itself, means a lot.
Now, please excuse me while I spend some time with Bandit Sr.
A sincere thank you to the McGoverns (including Phil’s wife, Emma) for sitting down with us for this story. It’s been an absolute pleasure and we’d like to wish you all the best with Caffeine and Machine and all other future adventures.