Andrew Jenkinson is in Pole Position – The Entrepreneur Interview

Former British bodybuilding champion, racing car enthusiast, and friend to the rich and famous, Andrew Jenkinson founded recruitment company Charterhouse in 1995. Here he talks to Kathleen Hall about his drive to succeed.

Andrew Jenkinson has all the qualities of an alpha male. Having gained both the title of Mr Southern Britain in 1981 and winner of the Aston Martin Championship in 2003, he explains his achievements succinctly: ‘It’s my instinct to win.’

Impressively, Jenkinson has only been racing historic cars since 1999, following an invite to the British GT Championship at Silverstone. It’s something he takes very seriously. ‘Last year, I came fourth and fifth in two separate races. It was great fun, but I don’t like losing.’

Jenkinson has had a keen interest in Aston Martins from a young age, having bought his first when he was 21. ‘It was a 1973 V8, formerly the property of [golfing champion] Tony Jacklin and it cost around £4,500. I’d borrowed £5,000 from the bank to do my kitchen and bathroom, but spent it on the car instead,’ he confesses.

Reach for the stars

Given his lifelong hobby of collecting Aston Martins (he estimates having owned 20), Jenkinson describes winning the Aston Martin Championship six years ago as a ‘sheer delight’.

Also in his collection is X Factor judge Simon Cowell’s old Mercedes CLK63 AMG Black Series, which cost £100,000. ‘I’ve spent a couple of million over the last few years with the same dealer that supplies Simon Cowell,’ the entrepreneur reveals.

‘One of the most expensive cars I bought was a £500,000 Pagani Zonda Roadster. It’s one of only three in the world. I no longer own it, but I got a lot of TV coverage when I drove it down to Monaco.’

Jenkinson estimates he has spent £5 million on cars over the years, having come a long way since first purchasing a Ford Cortina when he was 17 for £300.

Does Jenkinson see his hobby as an exclusively male activity? ‘Without being sexist, it is typically chaps who love cars,’ he says. When asked if he hopes his two daughters Jasmine, aged seven, and Phoebe, aged six, will grow up to share his passion for racing, he is emphatic. ‘I hope they won’t get involved. It’s too expensive and dangerous.’

It should be noted that Jenkinson’s interests extend beyond testosterone-fuelled activities. Last March, he forked out £1.2 million on a luxury Sunseeker yacht, which he uses to entertain clients and staff. ‘We took a load of my clients down to Monaco on it for the Grand Prix, which was fantastic,’ he comments. ‘[Former British racing car driver] Martin Brundle and Lewis Hamilton’s dad were also there and we socialised with them on board after the racing event.’

No silver spoon

Despite the entrepreneur’s glamorous-sounding lifestyle, he wasn’t born into the privileges of wealth. ‘My father was a builder and is the humblest of men, as was his father before him. I followed them into the business, but realised at a very early age that it is very hard to achieve wealth by using just your hands.’

Somewhat ironically, Jenkinson did use his hands to make a success of himself more than 25 years ago by becoming a bodybuilding champion. Although this is something he places firmly in his past.

‘I wouldn’t go back to the weight training, it’s too hard work,’ he says. ‘That’s a young man’s game.’ However, Jenkinson sees a continuity between his former life as Mr Southern Britain and his more recent successes on the racetrack. ‘I just like to be a champion,’ he laughs.

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