Petrolicious's latest video examines a customs specialist with a love for their classic racer
Petrolicious’s latest video looks at a 1962 AC Bristol belonging to someone whose life has almost fully been focused on cars, but only recently on ownership and driving.
Robin Grove first had an interest in cars at the age of 14, and just two years later could already count ownership of a Chevrolet pick-up truck and 1964 Ford Mustang to her name. She became the secretary of a Mustang club, but by the time she was 18 she was already working as a customs broker in the port of Los Angeles, which became her occupation and passion thereon.
Most of the items being imported and exported were cars, feeding Grove’s passion, and while working she acquired a Ford Pinto, where she learned how to drive with a stick-shift and ‘really started having fun with cars’.
Over the years she moved up the pecking order in the customs world, more exciting than it sounds, going from hammering crates and running around with clipboards, to helping running the company she worked for. After 25 years she switched to another business, spending eight-and-a-half years there, becoming a board member but then leaving.
Rather than accepting that she’d been left out in the cold, Grove set up her own company, because CEO of Cars USA International Shipping. It does what it says on the tin. After a few years her operation merged with a UK equivalent, and her business expanded to open shipping divisions in New York, Dubai, Japan and the Netherlands. If you want to know about importing and exporting cars, then Grove was your go-to person.
In the early days of her company, she was approached by someone with an AC Bristol, insisting that she owned her own classic. Grove knew little of the AC but snapped it up, and ultimately ended up falling in love with it.
The story of the British sports car led to her meeting people important to its history, including the racing driver who imported the British classic to the USA in 1963. His wife handed Grove a folder containing an even more in-depth history of the car, including photos of it racing against Shelbys in the 1960s. To Grove’s surprise, the machine looked exactly same as it did when it last competed in 1966.
Driving the Bristol, which is essentially a racing car, is no easy task, and each time Grove takes to the wheel she becomes more confident. The car runs a D1200 straight-six engine, has three carburettors, disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the back, and two fuel fillers. It was clearly designed for racing.
Surprisingly there are only 6500 miles on the engine, 900 of which Grove has added, but she intends to add at least 1000 more by entering the California Mille race. Every time she drives it she feels more at home, and the more she appears in the car, the more people in the rarified AC community that she meets.