LIFESTYLE TAG Heuer x Porsche: The Road Rat


Jason Barlow Long-standing contributor to BBC Top Gear and GQ

It’s the story that matters says Coldplay bass player, and founder of car magazine The Road Rat, Guy Berryman.

Coldpay bass player Guy Berryman and his original 1968 Porsche 911

John Entwistle, 50 per cent of The Who’s fearsome rhythmic engine room, once tried to have a zip wire installed between his Cotswolds manor house and his local pub. In the end, he just bought the pub.

Guy Berryman, a fellow bass player and supplier of a generally more melodic undertow as part of 21st century globe-straddling musical phenomenon Coldplay, recounts this tale of his former neighbour with a knowing smile. Although he hasn’t bought a pub, he does own a glorious house in Gloucestershire, and there are some distractions; one of the outbuildings is a custom-built home for his spectacular and impressively idiosyncratic car collection.

Berryman is no dilettante. A fastidious man with a very specific aesthetic, his taste in art, design and architecture is showcased on Instagram at Dawghaus. He recently launched his own fashion label, Applied Art Forms. And he is also creative director of the unutterably beautiful quarterly automotive publication The Road Rat.

Not for him, the latest outré supercar. Yes, he owns various flamboyant Italian classics, but he’s restored one of those himself – he even did the zinc plating – and his interest in the subject runs very deep. ‘All my cars are underpinned by something significant, in terms of their engineering,’ he says. ‘Form following function is something you hear about a lot, but it does result in a purity that I love. I also appreciate a narrative, and I like bringing a car back to life.’

Unsurprisingly, Porsche features very prominently in the mix. Berryman likes going to the source, and craves originality. Everyone will have a different idea of what constitutes the ultimate Porsche, but the cars we’re talking about here aren’t just special, they demonstrate a serious knowledge of the company’s history. And the lengths their owner will go to acquire the real deal. Take his 1968 Porsche 911, for example.

Guy Berryman's original 1968 Porsche 911

‘It’s completely original, even the paint. I imported it from Denver, Colorado, it used to belong to a guy called Grady Clay,’ he says. ‘He was one of the first Porsche modifiers, he had a garage called Rennenhaus.

What goes for cars, applies to watches too. Berryman owns two TAG Heuer Carreras, a new 160 Years Silver Limited Edition, and a Formula 1 Fujiwara Special Edition.

These both come with motor racing history, of course, and it is history that is the key for this enthusiast. ‘The history of the cars I buy is important to me, whether a car had an interesting owner or it was raced.’

Take his 356 Carrera Zagato, an achingly rare example on which the car’s resolutely German character has been reworked by the most fearless of all of Italy’s celebrated carrozzerie in pursuit of light weight and the resulting competitive advantage. ‘Only one was ever made, in 1957, for a French racing driver called Claude Storez. He’d won two French rally championships and taken class wins in the Mille Miglia,’ Berryman says. ‘He bought a Porsche 356 Carrera Speedster, then commissioned Zagato to make an even lighter and more slippery body. He raced it a few times, and he put bigger wheels on it for the third race. But those wheels didn’t clear the wheel arches properly and he was hammering down a long straight, the wheels didn’t turn properly, the car flipped over and he was killed.

‘The car was a crumpled mess, it was removed, and the remains were scrapped. That was it. Until a few years ago, when Zagato pulled out the original design drawings, looked at old images, and was able to construct a 3D template of the body. Porsche gave its blessing to create nine sanction II cars. It’s a stunning little thing, great fun to drive.’

Discover the TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph Special Edition with a Leather strap / with a Steel H-shape bracelet

Jason Barlow Long-standing contributor to BBC Top Gear and GQ