To refer to the well-known maxim following in his father’s footsteps is perhaps a good way to turn the ignition key and fire-up the story of Rorky’s automotive passion. Although, we must highlight the fact the prodigal son would ultimately leave the nest and become a fully-fledged authority in his field.
There is no getting away from the fact the person responsible for Rorky’s infatuation with cars is his father. But the writing was on the wall, as his father happens to be Kevin O’Rourke, the classic Ferrari restoration expert behind the superlative Surrey based marque specialist Mototechnique.
Rorky was born into it; he was raised on Dinos, Daytonas and dirt bikes.
Digging through the family photograph albums you’ll find all the evidence you need – a young boy who is yet to reach the height of the roofline of the Ferraris he is standing proudly alongside.
Rorky is clearly able to recount his first Ferrari memory; “it was helping my father when I was about 9 years old and he was working on Nick Mason’s 250GTO. He was repainting it and I helped by packaging all of the parts in bubble wrap. I was made aware the car was something very special, but only later in life did I realized just how special it was.
"I also clearly remember being taken along to Modena Track Days at Goodwood, around this time and going round in cars either with dad and customers”.
As you can imagine, Rorky never knew what car his father would arrive home in from one evening to the next, so would often run to the window to see what he was driving, as he explains; “My dad was always coming home in something special, such as the Panther De Ville”.
Picking the most memorable car of his childhood was easy and you’ll understand why…“I’ll never forget when he dropped me off at school in a white Lamborghini Countach, with matching interior. Mainly because I was very embarrassed!”
The eagerness to be around his father’s workshop became magnetic and as he reached his teens he took on the role of Saturday Boy in 1984. Rorky became a knowledge sponge, he absorbed the characteristics involved in classic car restoration, learning the skills from talented experts in each area of the process.
It must have felt very special to be working at such a young age on amazing vehicles, don’t you think? “I’ve been very lucky, but I’ve never known any different. Even when I did up my first Beetle when I was 17 years old, I didn’t appreciate how lucky I was to be learning skills from such expert craftsman’.
If you are of a certain age, you may have been a Saturday Boy or Girl yourself, but when was the last time you heard the term? Sadly, this country no longer seems to perceive any value in kids training for a working life. Does Rorky feel the role should be promoted once again, having started out this way? “Definitely! I feel it promotes character and instills appreciation of the value of both working for earnings and learning skills for your work. I feel it was a highly rewarding process for me”.
And your specialist subject is?
During those formative years, Rorky acquired knowledge and dexterity in the various areas involved with classic car restoration. He gained experience in metalworking, both in terms of accident and rust repair, so was able to weld and carry out body preparation. He also honed his mechanical and automotive electrical skills. However, there was one element of the process he became drawn towards above all, the upholstery. This became his focus and future.
What was it that made him choose to become a coach trimmer? “When I used to go to work for my father, all the trades involved in vehicle restoration surrounded me. I leant towards trim work; I liked Nick Artusa, the guy who handled the coach-trimming. The smells in the trim shop were better, possibly a little addictive! the work was quieter, cleaner and more instantly rewarding to me”.
Nick proved a very good mentor, helping Rorky learn more than simply the basics of his trade. He admits he learned by his mistakes, discovering the nuances of each of the materials he was working with. More importantly he found out who his worst critic was… himself! He continually sought to improve on his last achievement. However as Rorky reached the age of 19, Nick moved on from Mototechnique and full responsibility for the upholstery department was passed to him.
Ultimately, the prodigal son was to leave the nest and become a fully-fledged authority in his field.
Since O’Rourke Coachtrimmers was founded in 2002, when Rorky’s determined ambition to excel has resulted in the company reaching a very high level of acclaim in, knowledge, service and workmanship.
To aid expansion, in 2015 the company was relocated to the current premises, however Rorky remains resolute, his company must offer the best service available from commission to completion.
In terms of the actual upholstery this means exacting replication and in many cases replacement of authenticity, but also extends to bespoke creation to meet your personal wishes. This is only possible thanks to a life-long passion and the knowledge of the minutiae in detail only afforded to those with an unbridled experience working on numerous examples of handcrafted cars.
Let’s end with a comment Rorky made himself whilst looking through those old family photograph albums we mentioned earlier, as we can think of no better way to show just how far he has come; ‘It’s funny, looking at these old photographs, how accepted standards have changed. What was acceptable back then would never be now’.
The important thing is, the person who would not accept the level of standards in question might not be you!