THE USUAL SUSPECTS
Where do you keep your pride and joy? Our man meets someone who’s solved his storage problem three-hundred times over, and invites you to join him. Plus, when Porsche powered aeroplanes, and the clock’s now ticking on Bloodhound’s 1000mph run
Paul Davies has his say
Where do you keep your car collection? Not got one, sorry about that. But it’s not such a silly question. More people than you might think do have one. OK they’re usually the prerogative of the super-rich, but I did once visit a man who managed to cram five Porsche 928s onto his front lawn (not one was a runner) and knew a local builder who simply lined up in a field the cars he discarded each time he bought a new one.
Not everyone of course has a handy field or a garden big enough to take even a modest cache. The problem hit me last year when I bought a camper van bigger than the VW I’d had for years. Yes, the new job just fitted on the drive, but the thing towered over the hedge intimidating the neighbours – and I had to move it each time I wanted to get the Carrera 3.2 out of our tiny garage.
Five quid a week to rent a space in the farmer’s barn down the road easily cured my problem. But I reckon once upon a time Rodger Dudding had more of a headache – he’s currently got something exceeding 320 cars he’s collected over the years. Actually Rodger solved his worries by building a warehouse to (ahem) house his collection. Now he’s looking after other people’s gems as well as his own, and also building a new state-of-the-art facility that’ll take 500 more.
Car storage has become big business, and ‘significant’ Porsches are often candidates for it. Our old chum Neil Bainbridge, of BS Motorsport in Buckinghamshire, set up a predominately Porsche storage centre several years ago, whilst I recently visited the impressive Historic building at Bicester Heritage. All over the country there are car collections, small and big, some more private than others, and facilities ready to house them offering security and (if required) anonymity.
Back to Rodger, a truly affable fellow who made his money by inventing the system that issues a little printed ticket when we queue at the deli for our pate or stinking bishop. He admits to being a serial car buyer. He’s got no ambitions to create a complete collection of, say, as we would, Porsches or even, as we would not say, Ferraris. He just buys what takes his fancy; often attending an auction to chase something he saw in the catalogue and returning with five others as well.
Rodger’s 300-plus vehicles (you name it, he’s got at least one) fill most of his original Studio 434 at Potters Bar, north of London, and since he started to take in, so to speak, paying guests, the two-storey building is now full up. Studio 434/2, just around the corner, construction of which is now almost finished, offers an extra 500,000sq ft of secure space and should be up and running by the time you read this. Prices start at around £45 per week. (studio 434.co.uk)
Actually, there is one theme in Rodger’s predominately eclectic collection. Remember the William Towns designed, wedge shaped, Aston Martin Lagonda of the eighties? He’s got 23. He just likes them. Porsches, I’m sorry to report, are not that plentiful (although there are two nice 356s, one with US race history, a 928 and I also spotted a couple of what must be RSRS under wraps), so perhaps that’s an area for improvement.