When you are starting up your own car repair business, who else would you turn to for help but your mate?

Your handbag designer mate who has created posh totes loved by Posh Spice, that is.

Tom Tidiman has got oil under his fingernails, a life-long mechanic who started in his dad’s car spares business in South Harrow.

Quentin Mackay is ‘a rare breed of luxury expert’, a Central St Martin’s college graduate in menswear, a former creative director with Samsonite with designs for big names such as Louis Vuitton and Lowe on his CV.

His two-handle ‘Persian’ handbag was snapped up by Victoria Beckham. It cost £1,695. That's an awful lot of spark plugs.

“He used to be a customer of mine and we just became really good friends” explains Tom, 28, who after six months’ of preparation took over Fir Tree Motors in West Drayton on Wednesday, October 1.

Before that, his customer-turned-friend had been applying his designer’s eye to the garage in Horton Industrial Park, off Horton Road, and helping out where he could. That does not run to fixing a leaky gear box.

Quentin, 43, who these days focuses his efforts on The Gorgeous Company, with wife, Vija, lives in Northolt.

Designer Quentin Mackay
 

And just as he has a following among fashionistas, he ‘followed’ Tom from the garage where he used to work to Fir Tree Motors.

“He’s a good bloke and a reliable bloke,” said Quentin.

“It might be seven miles further out than the old place but as long as my car can make it I will continue going to Tom.

“I’m a designer, so if a friend is starting a business and I can lend a hand then I will.”

Observing the mantra ‘retail is detail’, Quentin said he had been able to advise on signage, photographs, website and a few other areas.

And as a veteran of big launches – albeit in front of the assembled fashion press at a pukka London hotel with a wedge of celebrities – Quentin can, after a fashion, empathise with his friend as he strikes out on his own.

“It’s one of those nervously exciting times for him,” he said.

With his own engineering background – he is a graduate of the former Eastbourne College of Arts and Technology in his home town – Quentin won’t be stuck for work if the demand for handbags that cost more than a new big end should ever dry up.

Tom said: “He loves his cars. He had a Lamborghini and he is a very clever bloke, so if he wanted to be a car mechanic he could do it in a couple of months.”

Tom was less forthcoming on how long it might require himself to design a cute clutch bag. Clutches are more his speed.

Fir Tree Motors was founded in 1979, and when the previous owner Chris Middleton, decided to retire, Tom not only took on the business but the lease of the premises.

“I have taken on all his customers too,” he said.

He also took on apprentice Chad Collyer, 18, a West Drayton lad who spends a day a week learning his trade at Uxbridge College in Park Road, Uxbridge, and the rest of the time learning on the job, just as Tom did.

“I have been in the trade since I was 13,” he said.

“I have been a service engineer at two different locations but I have always wanted to own my own garage.”