Entrepreneurs’ cars: Ferrari 458
“Major petrol head” Ross Williams likes to play the field with cars but despite a love of supercars he keeps business and personal separate…
Name: Ross Williams
Company: Global Personals
Focus: Online dating and social networking
Cars: Ferrari 458, Morgan Aero Supersports, Range Rover Autobiography, Jaguar F-Type, Range Rover Evoque
Typical RRP: Various
Perhaps fittingly for the founder of one of the largest privately-owned dating services in the world, Ross Williams likes to play the field with his cars. “As the world leader in niche online dating, I suppose you could say I’ve got a car for every niche!” he admits.
Having set up white-label focused dating service Global Prsonals with partner Steve Pammenter in 2003, the former Young Gun has grown the company into a global giant with revenues in excess of £50m – and as a self-confessed “major petrol head”, it made sense that he would invest his new-found wealth into a collection of high-end cars from around the world.
In particular, Williams says his purchase of the striking crimson Ferrari 458 supercar was a “completely emotional purchase”, which he bought to reward himself when Global Personals became successful. “It’s the kind of car I’d have on the bedroom wall as a kid,” Williams says. “It’s a special event every time I get in it.”
But whilst the Ferrari 458 is a more conventional symbol of success, Williams admits the 1920s-inspired Morgan Aero Supersports’ uniquely British design makes it a “Marmite car – people either love it or hate it”. Despite what others might think, Williams is clearly enamoured with his Supersports. “For me it’s one of the most beautiful cars in the world to look at – but certainly the most beautiful to listen to,” he enthuses.
His supercars may be ultimate expression of wish-fulfilment, but Williams says his “best overall car” is his Range Rover Autobiography, describing it as an “extremely luxurious dog bus”. The Autobiography combines comfort, rugged design and all-terrain practicality with highly versatile storage space – Williams talks up the radar cruise control and automatic parking as particularly useful toys. “I often drive 120 miles from my home in the UK to my place in Provence – and it’s utterly effortless,” Williams says. “I can have dogs in the back or put the seats flat and transport huge loads. It does everything I need it to.”
Indeed, when it comes to meeting clients, the supercars stay in the garage most of the time. “I tend to take the Range Rover to most client meetings – unless I know the client likes cars too,” Williams explains. “Undoubtedly, nice cars may project an image of success, but they can also project an image of the owner as shallow, materialistic and flash. I think it’s best to keep nice cars hidden from business.”
Not content with just the five, Williams says he is in the market for more cars, both for practical and aspirational use. A previous owner of an Aston Martin DBS Volante, which he “sadly” sold in 2013, Williams plans to splash out on an Aston fairly soon. “I’m an Aston Martin man at heart,” he says.
On the more practical end of the spectrum, Williams admits his cars are “all very impractical” for business use – he is currently on the lookout for a zippy electric car to add to his collection. “Electric cars are very sensible in London for business owners,” he explains. “No congestion charge, free parking, easy recharging – and no personal tax to pay if you drive the company car.”
But such sensible considerations may have to take a back seat for now, because “as a single guy” Williams is “enjoying the crazy supercars while I can get away with it!”