As many of you would have guessed from Matt’s earlier posts this year, we at Farm of Minds are extremely pleased to announce our new partnership with Roger Clark Motorsport (RCM). We’ve managed to secure unfettered access inside one of the UK’s premier motorsport and product development workshops, and over the next few months we’ll be bringing you exclusive insight into the company and the people behind it, its products, and of course the outrageous series of Gobstopper Time Attack weapons. Naturally its very tempting to jump straight into the articles about the companies all-conquering track cars, but to understand the true significance and value of these incredible machines, we need to go behind the scenes and look at exactly who the team are and what they do.
RCM are based in a small industrial estate just outside the town of Hinckley, nestled deep in the UK midlands. Their facility houses an extremely modern and immaculately maintained workshop and warehouse, filled with every breed of Impreza, from mild to wild, with shelves stacked floor to ceiling with tuning parts. It looks slick and professional, and if I’m honest, a world away from what I’d been expecting. Founded by the multiple RAC winner and British rally champion Roger Clark MBE in 1991, RCM have spent the last twenty two years researching, developing and improving every aspect of the Impreza package, driven primarily through their competition cars, and filtering these down directly into enhanced components for customer vehicles. If that sounds similar to the way OEM manufacturers like Porsche develop their cars, then you are starting to understand what it is that sets RCM head and shoulders above a lot of the other tuning companies out there.
Whilst the greater part of their business these days is in product development and parts sales, they still offer a full range of in-house services to their customers, from a simple oil change all the way through to a bespoke hand assembled 800bhp engine built to spec in their dedicated engine room. On the strength of the RCM brand they’ve also expanded their customer market to an impressive degree, supplying owners and tuners in territories as diverse as the Philippines, Taiwan, Russia and Israel, as well as the staple markets of Europe, the US and Canada. It’s no understatement to say that this British outfit has achieved a global following; just look at any Impreza feature in a magazine and its more than likely you’ll see at least a few RCM parts in the Tech sheet.
What is truly impressive about RCM’s achievements to date is the size of the team they’ve done it with. Just eight staff makes up their highly organized team, and they’re all specialists in their chosen areas. Matt Clark, (RCM’s director along with Olly Clark), is personally responsible for envisioning and developing the company’s competition cars along with creating their bespoke parts range, its thanks to him the Gobstopper’s exist and he is almost certainly the mad scientist of the car world!. His brother Olly follows in his father footsteps being a gifted driver and pilot for GSI and II. He also drives both the company and staff forward like a man possessed, and he’s a face that’s instantly recognizable if you’ve watched any of the videos of the original Gobstopper. Mark is the chief technician for customer cars, conversions and has a wealth of knowledge in this area. You know your car is in good hands when you see the quality of workmanship that leaves RCM. Tom and Mike are based in the sales department and there is little that they can’t help you out with, whether it be for parts sales, advice or technical enquiries you just can’t beat their level of knowledge, passion and commitment to the Subaru brand. My guide for the day, Tim Ross, is their Commercial Manager, and looks after their branding, website, and the continuity of RCM’s commitment to quality in all areas of the business. They’re all top guys, and you can sense the enthusiasm and passion for their work dripping off them. Even during my short trip I overhear Tom chatting to a customer on the phone about problems he’s experiencing with his car. There’s no agenda, no drive to make a sale or get him into the shop, just a genuine interest in helping the owner out. They all live and breathe the Impreza (most of them own one as well), and it shows in their approach to business.
Matt & Olly Clark
Moving into their flawlessly ordered warehouse, I’m exposed to just how many parts the team have developed under the RCM brand over the years. Oddly, it’s also the most tangible evidence of what is at the heart of RCM culture – the desire to give customers the very best products they can at a competitive price. It means they might not be the cheapest, but each RCM branded part (and even those from other companies) is rigorously tested and scrutinized to guarantee quality months before it goes on sale. With this kind of dedication and industry clout, you can see why so many people go to RCM when they need parts that will get the job done.
This attitude pervades all aspects of the business. Let’s say you order one of their latest high performance oil filters, or perhaps something more exciting from their extensive line-up. Not only will Olly and the team ensure it reaches you on the date requested, complete with comprehensive instructions (something of a rarity in the world of tuning parts), it’ll also be neatly packaged in RCM designed and branded bespoke packaging. That might sound like overkill for a component whose tangible value is in how well it performs on the car, but its yet another indicator of how seriously the whole team take the issue of quality. As Tim explains, “If you buy a Rolex, you don’t just expect to get the watch, you expect a detailed guide on how to use it, and that the packaging reflects the quality of the item purchased. We see no reason why this philosophy shouldn’t be adopted with our products” Now these kinds of ideas are nothing new if you do decide to go out and buy a watch, in fact you’d expect them. But in the aftermarket parts industry where quality of service is often extremely variable, it’s refreshing to see a group of enthusiasts applying so much dedication to the whole customer experience.