About Walkers Garage
Automobiles have been sold and repaired from the current location since before the war, when the enterprise was know as Stainthorpe’s Garage. South Otterington lies three miles due south of Northallerton (the County Town of North Yorkshire) and Walkers Garage stands in the very centre of this rural community, nestling in the heart of the Vale of York.
The garage is blessed with first class communication links, being a matter of minutes from the major highways in the region – the A1 and the A19; just three miles from direct high-speed ‘225’ main line train connections to London/York/Edinburgh (just 2.5 hours to Kings Cross!) and the TransPennine regional network from Manchester to Newcastle; and very convenient for the airports of Durham/Tees Valley and Leeds/Bradford. For the benefit of the rally orientated fraternity, the O.S. map reference is – Landranger Series 99-374875 (see map).
Walkers Garage has been a family concern for many years, with great emphasis placed on providing a friendly, helpful and reliable service. Being situated within a tight-knit community, word of mouth referral has played a crucial role in the development of the garage from its inception, right up to the present day. Nothing is more important to Walkers than its reputation, a fact borne out by a truly world-wide clientele who avail themselves of an efficient mail-order service for both parts and cars.
Over the years Walkers have secured a niche in the market as suppliers of vehicle parts which are generally unavailable via other sources. Yet ironically this parts service has been built on the back of vehicle sales across the globe, as word spread from one satisfied customer to the next that here was a company that knew what it was talking about – and most important of all – could be trusted to act upon ‘an arm’s length request’. Hence forth the name Walkers has become synonymous with the trade of ‘sourcing’ specialist cars (usually high performance cars) from around the world – a service which requires genuine good faith to operate.
The current driving force behind Walkers is Steve Smith, who is into his fourth decade at the helm of the garage. Back in 1973 when Steve took command, Walkers had a British Leyland franchise; since that time he has steered the company through successful periods with Mitsubishi, Lancia and now Fiat.
Without doubt the secret to Walkers current popularity and acclaim can be accredited to Steve’s motorsporting achievements and the expertise that has been cultivated as result of his rallying exploits. There can be no harsher environment than motorsport; you win – or you loose; you perish or you succeed. Steve succeeded. With over a quarter of a century of competition, countless victories – including National Rally success and superb performances on the RAC International Rally – the know how and practical experience necessary to breath fire and reliability into performance cars has been hard won.
So when it comes to preparing competition cars or adding that extra zap to fast road cars, drivers have learned who to talk to. Of course owning and driving the car that helped Juha Kankkunen win his World Drivers’ Rally Championship and Lancia yet another World Manufacturers’ Rally Championship can only add to that acclaim. Steve of all people is best placed to realise why the famous ‘Big Delta’ has attracted an ownership including rockstar Chris Rea and comedian Rowan Atkinson; and why Eddie Irvine has owned several, Eddie Jordan drives one regularly and TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson can’t stop raving about them.
It should have come as no surprise when Steve was invited to contest the televised RallySprint series at the head-to-head figure of eight rally track at Silverstone. You can read about this series and Steve’s exploits in a Group A rally car in the competition section. The Loctite supported Scalelectrix challenge set new standards in promoting exciting, dramatic motorsport.
Also within the competition section you can read about the day Steve received an invitation from Fiat to visit their factory and inspect their development Kit Car. Steve received the red carpet treatment from the Fiat Competition Department who were keen to hear his comments on the project and co-operate on its development. Of course Fiat are well aware that Walkers have been Lancia Main Dealers and UK Integrale Specialists since 1989; have direct computer links with Lancia; have the latest Lancia diagnostic equipment and have official factory trained technicians. The fact that Walkers also have over £100,000 worth of genuine Lancia parts and the best stock of Integrale outside Italy has not gone un-noticed by a lot of people!
But it is not only the Fiat/Lancia group who appreciate the depth of knowledge that Walkers have acquired on matters ‘Delta HF Integrale’, for when the BBC decided that they could no longer ignore the clamours for this four-wheel drive beast to be given an airing – who did they turn to? Who else! You can read all about their visit and the thoughts of a certain Mr Q.Wilson in the Top Gear section.
So is that it – are Walkers resting on their laurels? Answer – no, far from it… At the turn of the millennium an agreement was reached for Walkers to handle the UK distributorship of Tecno2 performance parts. Tecno2 have built up a superb reputation on the Continent for supplying the very highest quality parts at extremely competitive prices. Steve is particularly excited about this partnership, which he sees as dovetailing perfectly with Walkers current operation – see Parts Department.
In addition to working alongside Tecno2, Walkers in house radiator manufacture, repair and supply service has really taken off. When your customers include World Rally Cars – you know you must have got it right! Yet amongst all this hive of high-tech activity, Walkers service the neighbours car, can sort out your air conditioning, conduct your annual M.O.T. and fix the milkman’s run about. In Yorkshire the locals make sure that your feet are kept well and truly on the ground!
So if want to talk about no-nonsense issues with no-nonsense folk, Walkers is the place to do it.