Retro Rovers is the next chapter in a story starting nearly 50 years ago. Originating from Keith Gott Landrover’s and evolving into Keith Gott – Specialist’s in Land Rover products. These family businesses have been at the forefront of the marks specialist market from the beginning. Over the years the company can boast about the creation of pretty much anything you can imagine, exporting to over 50 different countries worldwide, working directly with JLR and all of its Export divisions, being the recommended supplier to the Foreign Countries Office and heavy involvement within the Off Road and Rally Raid Industries – to name a few.
Starting out in Battersea, London, then moving to an Army town called Bordon in Hampshire, the business has now been situated on a 6 acre Farm in Alton, Hampshire for the last 28 years. Ben started working for is father at the age of 17, and worked his way up through the company. From sweeping the floors and making the tea, to learning mechanics, building many Landrovers from scratch, moving into management and eventually becoming a partner. Retro Rovers now sees him coming full circle and going back to his roots.
The Next Chapter
Ben is bringing this knowledge to the US, to expand the family name:
“It seems fate that I’ve been doing this for 25 years now and the first of the Defender’s is the same age. Along with meeting and marrying my wonderful Californian wife Courtney Kenobi, it’s pretty much a no brainer to now move over to the states and create a dream I’ve had for years”
The business plan is simple – to import quality 25 year old Land Rover Defender’s into the West coast, doubling their life span at least and creating new fans of one of the world’s most Iconic brands.
“The business will start off small and steady but has the potential to grow quickly. We will concentrate on the restoration of Defender and Series vehicles, both UK and US, that we will relocate to begin with, and once we are established and happy that the business can expand without disturbing the quality of the importation service, we will then offer servicing and enhancement of the rest of the Land Rover and Range Rover range”
Race & Rally
Ben can also call on a bit more than just his Land Rover knowledge, and being in the 0ff road industry has opened many doors over the year. As soon as he turned 16, he was in the navigator’s seat next to his dad, doing All Wheel Drive Club events, of which his dad is a founding member. As soon as he was 17, he was in the driver’s seat competing mainly in vehicles built and prepared by himself.
In 25 years, Ben has had numerous top 10 finishes across 3 championships in the UK, in some of the toughest rallies across Europe and participation in 9 Dakar Rallies in 11 years ( 4 in Africa and 5 in South America) .
Racing will pick up again eventually, as he is going to get into the Baja, Trophy or Stadium Truck scene as soon as time allows.
The first concept of Retro Rovers actually started in 2010, but another adventure was to present itself first.
“I was approached by a group of injured and amputee servicemen and women from the UK that had formed a Team called Race2Recovery. I had been suggested as the go to man in the UK for advice about the Dakar Rally. Their goal was to enter a team in 2013. Little I knew where it would end up”.
Initially Ben was to be an advisor, but this soon turned into supplying a lot of the logistics needed and then went on to becoming a Driver for the team. On the 5th of January 2013, after nearly 2 years of preparation, Ben set of with US Serviceman Mark Zambon on the Rally from Peru. The team had now become an International phenomenon, boasting a 4 car team with a fleet of support trucks and cars and team of 28 people from 6 different nationalities.
One of the four cars made it across the finish line 14 days later and become the first ever amputee team to enter and finish the Dakar Rally.
After this, Keith and Ben bought the team to secure its continuation and with another Dakar done a year later and more world firsts, the team is still carrying on today – being run by the next chapter of members keen to push the boundaries of disabled motorsport.