Born in Aberdeen, Robert was a member of the banking family and thus had the finance to enjoy racing, however this was interrupted by World War 2 just as he was beginning to enjoy some success.
Robert Arbuthnot was in partnership with R.V.Wallington at High Speed Motors in Watford, just northwest of London. They owned and dealt in performance and racing cars such as the ex-Ruesch Alfa Romeo 8C-35 GP car which Robert aquired in 1939. In fact he entered the Alfa at Le Mans that year but in the end did not compete
In 1946 he considered entering the Indy 500 and had his V12 Lagonda powered special shipped to the States. This car, originally a two-seater sports car, was one of two works cars that finished 3rd and 4th at Le Mans in 1939. Both of these cars were almost totally destroyed by a V1 Flying Bomb in 1944 and Arbuthnot's special was build around the engine of the fourth placed car, driven by Lord Selsdon and Lord William Waleran, and featured single seat open wheel bodywork.
However on May 11th, the Lagonda was severly damaged again, this time en-route to the track when the tow rope broke near Defiance, Ohio and a vehicle that was following ran into it. The car was did arrive at the Speedway but though it was repaired, a connecting rod bearing failed and it never made a qualification run. Robert stayed on to watch the race before returning to the UK.
Robert was tragically killed later that year in head-on crash on the Purley Bypass, a three lane road with the center one being a shared overtaking lane. The accident destroyed the ex-Dorothy Patten (Countess Dorendorff) Peugeot.
Robert was good firends with Louis Klementaski, the famous photographer and Brooklands racer. Klementaski recounted how he had received a telephone call from one of the members of the family asking whether he would go up to the Purley Bypass and photograph the wreck of the car. The accident was not Arbuthnot's fault. A Buick travelling in the opposite direction burst a tyre and the car swerved across the road into Arbuthnot's Peugeot. He added that some time earlier Robert had been caught speeding on the Purley bypass and that occasion he had gone with him to photograph the wide road as evidence in his defence. It is not know if picture helped in his defence.
After Arbuthnot's death Wallington persevered with HS Motors.
The Arbuthnot family name is still involved in club level motor racing.