Tom Hartley was born in 1961, the second child of Tom and Helen Ann Hartley – Romany travelers who sold carpets across Scotland. Tom’s early life as a child was spent travelling with his parents in their caravan. The family moved into their first house in the late 1960s, and set up a cash and carry carpet shop in Glasgow. Tom attended Hamilton Primary School, but left school when he was 11, unable to read or write, to start selling used cars – wheeling and dealing against established dealers as a schoolboy in the cutthroat world of the Glasgow car auctions. Tom had made his first million by the age of 17, but soon ran into trouble – his business went bust and he needed an operation to save his sight. He spent the next few years rebuilding the business with his wife Priscilla, once again living in a caravan. By 1982 he was back in business, his first child was born, and the family moved into their first home in Derbyshire. Within a year he had bought 40 acres of land next to his home and started to create his business empire dealing in luxury, performance, and supercars. He hasn’t looked back since, having created a family business dynasty now valued at over £500 million.
Ken Gibson is the award-winning ex-motoring editor of The Sun newspaper.