The car world is full of fascinating characters, but few have a story to tell quite as remarkable and inspirational as Tom Hartley.
Walking out of school at the age of 11, unable to read or write, Hartley set up his own business buying and selling cars. From that moment, he defied logic and ripped up the rule book on his way to the top. Today he runs one of the most successful independent family run performance and luxury car businesses in the world. He has built up an unrivalled reputation as "The Dealmaker."
Tom has been at the top for over 40 years, survived and thrived through four recessions, and overcome three life threatening illnesses. In his own brutally honest words, Hartley tells his gripping story of a boy from a traditional Romany family who swapped the classroom for the cut-throat world of Glasgow's car auctions, buying and selling his first car at the age of 12. Having decided to drive himself around illegally, he was only 15 when he had his first car crash, and they don’t come more spectacular than writing off a Ferrari Dino – nothing has ever been normal in the world of Tom Hartley!
Hartley had made his first million by the age of 17, but soon suffered major setbacks as his business went bust, and he found himself at risk of losing his sight without major surgery. Hartley started all over again, living in a mobile home with his wife and working from the back of a car. He had gone from hero to zero, but his burning desire to be the best saw him climb his way back to the top. His ability to clinch deals in some of the most bizarre places has become legendary, like buying a car in a sauna, while stuck in a traffic jam on a motorway, and even in a swimming pool!
Family has played a key part in the Tom Hartley story, his wife has been at his side all the way, and his two sons have followed closely in their father’s footsteps. Indeed Tom’s belief in family is one of the inspiring messages that comes through.
Hartley’s inspirational story is about the unshakeable belief in his own abilities, from a precocious schoolboy who had a dream, and then through sheer hard work and a burning desire to make the dream come true. This is not just a book for car enthusiasts but for anyone who has dared to dream. It’s a story that will inspire and motivate, and proves you can make the wildest dream come true if you want it badly enough.
Tom’s remarkable story is written with the collaboration of journalist Ken Gibson, for 24 years, award-winning Motoring Editor of The Sun newspaper.
About the Author
Tom Hartley was born in 1961, the second child of Tom and Helen Ann Hartley – Romany travelers who sold carpets across Scotland. Tom’s early life as a child was spent travelling with his parents in their caravan. The family moved into their first house in the late 1960s, and set up a cash and carry carpet shop in Glasgow. Tom attended Hamilton Primary School, but left school when he was 11, unable to read or write, to start selling used cars – wheeling and dealing against established dealers as a schoolboy in the cutthroat world of the Glasgow car auctions. Tom had made his first million by the age of 17, but soon ran into trouble – his business went bust and he needed an operation to save his sight. He spent the next few years rebuilding the business with his wife Priscilla, once again living in a caravan. By 1982 he was back in business, his first child was born, and the family moved into their first home in Derbyshire. Within a year he had bought 40 acres of land next to his home and started to create his business empire dealing in luxury, performance, and supercars. He hasn’t looked back since, having created a family business dynasty now valued at over £500 million.
Ken Gibson is the award-winning ex-motoring editor of The Sun newspaper.