16/10/2007 - 22:00

Business class: Rowley living the Aston Martin dream

16/10/2007 - 22:00


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Staring down the barrel of unemployment six years ago, Graeme Rowley was starting to believe he would never own an Aston Martin.

Business class: Rowley living the Aston Martin dream

Staring down the barrel of unemployment six years ago, Graeme Rowley was starting to believe he would never own an Aston Martin.

Told by his former employer Rio Tinto that, at 62 years of age, he was too old to continue in his (then) current position, Mr Rowley left.

But, determined to keep his mind busy with work, he set up his own consultancy business, Graeme Rowley and Associates.

It wasn’t long before the mining veteran was recruited by Andrew Forrest, who was bringing his dream to develop massive iron ore deposits in the Pilbara to reality.

That dream, Fortescue Metals Group, was far bigger than any car driven in the James Bond movies.

It was an almighty task that drew derision from Australia’s investment community, but Mr Rowley was firmly on board to make it happen.

That was in 2003 and Mr Rowley still hoped that, one day, just maybe he would be able to fulfil his long-held dream of owning an Aston Martin.

“I thought that if we could get Fortescue up and running and if the shares went to $1 maybe I could get one,” Mr Rowley said.

The Pilbara iron ore dream has become a reality, with the ore from Fortescue’s Cloud Break mine expected to be on ships bound for China from March.

The company’s share price hit $1 towards the end of 2004 and have now soared to about $51.

Yet, it wasn’t until last year, when Fortescue shares were well into double digits, that Mr Rowley, 67, finally accomplished his dream and bought an Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

By his logic, he could own about 50 Aston Martins if he wanted to.

He decided to buy the car when he and other Fortescue executives were granted their first-ever bonus in August last year in recognition of some hard yards they had put in over the years.

“I was building a house at the time but I thought ‘stuff the house I’m really going to treat myself’,” Mr Rowley said.

“It’s not everyday you get a bonus.”

His bonus was about $250,000 and all of it went on the car. He even traded in his Jeep Cherokee.

There is a noticeable change in Mr Rowley’s demeanour as he shows off his gunmetal grey motoring machine sporting a cream interior.

There’s a glimmer in the eye and an undeniable expression of excitement on his face

“Just look at the lines,” he says with a broad smile in reference to the car’s sleek and slender body.

This car really does rock his world.

“I just wanted an Aston. It is a classic car and it is the epitome of style; there isn’t another car like it.”

Mr Rowley selected everything, down to the colour of the seat belts and stitching. And there are two silver plaques embedded near the passenger and driver doors that read ‘hand built in England for Graeme Rowley’.

But Mr Rowley’s Aston Martin will have to share his affection with a 1973 Jaguar E-Type V12 Series 3, which is in the process of being registered after a journey from England.

The E-Type is something else that impresses Mr Rowley, who used to own a 1980s Jaguar XJ-S V12 but sold it in 2001 for financial reasons.

“I stuck with the Jeep when I joined Andrew [Forrest] in the first quarter of 2003,” Mr Rowley told Business Class. “The E-Type has such a lovely shape; it is the last model before it became Americanised.

“And it is one of the only models that had a V12 engine.”


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