Cartune was originally started in the 1930's by a man called Fred Matthews. Obviously at this point the company isn't involved with VW's yet as quite a few things are yet to happen, most notably World War 2 and Volkswagen actually existing! Fred Matthews would go on to be the chief scrutineer for the BRAC and president of the Monoposto Racing club, amongst many other accolades. Fred was doing so much work in motorsport that he required some economical and reliable transportation to and from the many race meeting and so bought a Volkswagen. At the time of writing (2023) it is not known to me that this was the point at which Cartune became a Volkswagen business, but what I do know is that Cartune started advertising Volkswagen tuning products In the early 1960's . This is where Mike Griffin, who I know bought the name off Fred enters the frame. They operated from a postal address on Grenfell Road in Mitcham Surrey, which turns out to be his good friend Roy Vaughn's mothers house. It wasn't long before they were ready for expansion though. Mike was already working for VWGB in their St John's Wood offices in London whilst Roy oversaw Cartune business. Mike was keen to open a Cartune tuning workshop and engineering hub and Volkswagen dealership in a fashion which seems a carbon copy of Economotors and EMPI in the USA. Locations in Ashford Middlesex (due to Mike and Roy's proximity to the area) and Middlesbrough were chosen. Middlesbrough seems to have been chosen as this appears to be close to where Mike Griffin was born. A local VW salesman by the name of Ron Turnbull was approached and Cartune Teesside was formed in 1967. It operated from a premises on North Ormesby Road in the city. Their successful line of VW tuning parts were available, but alongside those they there we also able to offer new Volkswagens, Porsches and later NSU's and Audi's. The business was so successful that by 1972 they were moving into a new purpose built building at Park End on the outskirts of city (pictured above). Cartune were also able to offer the GP and Apal beach buggies and also imported the Brazilian Puma to the U.K. market. As the information changes I will update where necesary but even now after 6 years of the page being live, new information is still coming to light!
Little is known about the chairman of Cartune Mike Griffin at the time of writing, as he unfortunately died not long ago. What is known is that Mike started out his career as an apprentice at Lagonda, but left after they were brought out by David Brown (DB). He then spent some time in the RAF, a spell as an engineer, then became an Austin Morris dealer. Eventually he would work in VW's technical service department and become workshop manager at VW's St John's Wood facility. By 1966 he had progressed to general service manager, effectively sorting out all VW's UK problems of a technical nature. During this time Mike was also a racing scrutineer which is where I believe he met Fred Matthews.
As stated Cartune were advertising from the Grenfell Road location in the early 1960's. At this time they were very much supplying parts such as OJR disc brake conversions (wide 5) and MAG superchargers. Later they were to add their own line of tuning products such as Taper Tips and wheel spacers and offer performance engine building using the SPG roller bearing crankshaft, cylinder head modifications, performance valvetrain parts and so on.
Mike also dabbled in racing. He along with Roy were a Goodwood (GRRC) members. In 1957 both Mike and Roy were photographed by Charles Dunn racing Oval windo beetles in handicap races at Goodwood. The Autosport report from the race refers to Mike Griffin's beetle being "super quick" so it would be fascinating to find exactly what he'd done to it. I think everyone can agree a stock Beetle from any year is anything but! It has also been suggested to me that he also rallied a beetle but in which competition is currently not know.
Mike was also general manager at AFN Porsche after leaving Volkswagen. This also seems to coincide with when Cartune Teesside attained Porsche dealership status. Cartune Teesside was sold to the Martins group in 1975 which is where I run out of infromation on him. In his latter years I was told he was he was teaching mechanics at a college in Saltburn-on-sea and finally would work for a rallying company called Triple 6 also based in Middlesbrough. Mike is pictured (centre) with Jack Charlton (left) and Ron Turnbull (Right).
Ron Turnbull is currently the only living director of Cartune in any form. Ron grew up on the Scottish boarders on a farm which neighboured the family of Jim Clark's (yes that one) family. After leaving school he did an agricultural apprenticeship before joining the RAF. During his time in the RAF Ron, in his own words when questioned about his role there was to "skive".
Ron wanted to race cars and having local acquaintances like Jim Clark meant he was in good company, although He did beat Jim in his D.K.W. with Turnbull driving a Ford Consul, so maybe it was Jim in good company at that time. Ron was also a keen rally enthusiast and had entered a Ford Prefect in a rally in Sestriere Italy, doing part of the Mille Miglia in 1958.
Ron then moved to Middlesbrough and became a VW salesman. He came to the attention of Mike Griffin who as written was working for VWGB. Mike tasked him with finding a premises to start Cartune Teesside from and Mike would take care of obtaining dealership status. Under his stewardship, Cartune Teeside would go on to be a very successful dealership. He even had the though to create the Cartune 1200, a special addition car which was a new Volkswagen, but with a few of Cartunes parts fitted to it to improve the performance and road holding.
Motorsport was never far away though, so Ron also piloted two rally beetles for Cartune, one an Orange beetle as seen in Motorsport magazines June 1972 article and another white 1302s pictured above. These were both co driven with Russ Swift who is pictured here on right of shot. There is another page on here which talks about Russ' involvement which is worth reading too. During his time at Cartune, Ron was fortunate enough to be invited to visit Wolfsburg to see the VW production line in action, it was no surprise to him that VW went on to be the giant that it is today. He also visited the Porsche factory at Stuttgart and met Ferry Porsche himself.
For a very long time I knew absolutely nothing about Roy. It wasn't until one of Mike Griffin's daughters contacted me and informed me that his wife was fortunately still alive. I was then also contacted via the Facebook page by Roy's daughter. Roy was for many years an engineer for the GPO (General Post Office). Quite where he met Mike and how they ended up tuning Volkswagens still isn't known to me as it pre dates his marriage and subsequent birth of his daughter. But what I do know from what I have been told, was that he was very multi-talented man. If being a great engineer wasn't enough, he was also a very good jazz pianist. Roy oversaw the Cartune Ashford operation. This is where ideas for parts were born and engineered. It's also where a team of mechanics were employed to do general service and maintenance work on Volkswagens. Roy would continue to work at Cartune until it became Urry motors in the late 80's early 90's. In his latter years he continued to work for Volkswagen after Cartune Teddington.
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