The MG’s all-round abilities impress Murray on a trip to one of Britain’s biggest classic collections
Regular CCW readers will have read about Rodger Dudding’s new business venture last week. If you haven’t, one of Britain’s biggest car collectors is now offering a storage facility for well-heeled classic owners. So obviously, I took it upon myself to venture down there to have a mooch around his collection of Aston Martin Lagondas and rare-groove oddities. It’s a hard job, etc.
As we needed to get car-to-car tracking photography done on the same day, I took the MG, because it’s the only £500 Challenge car that’s up to the job.
Pulling up to Studio 434’s original site in Potters Bar revealed what we had let ourselves in for. Leaving the MG parked next to a Lancia Gamma Coupé, I walked past a Ford Pop and in to the facility.
Studio 434 is essentially Dudding’s personal car collection, which he rents out to film and television crews. And it’s bewildering the first time you walk in. A vast sea of classics greets you behind the relatively workaday surroundings. Jensens, one-off Zagatos, Lotuses – I could go on and on. But I’ll stick to our £500 Challenge MG ZR.
After picking our jaws up from the floor, we took a few of Rodger’s cars out for a spin. I won’t say what we drove – you can read about them in a future issue – later, but I will say that I was mightily impressed by our MG.
Producing all those fantastic images of classics being driven that we bring you every week involves three people – one driving the target car, one driving the chase car, in this case the MG, and the photographer hanging out of the chase car. And I have to say that the ‘Zed-arrgh’ makes a fine chase car, despite its fairly harsh damping. It’s big enough to comfortably accommodate the photographer, yet the small enough to squeeze in to tight parking spots. Plus, its acceleration is pretty decent when you need it, though it does sometimes struggle with two burly blokes on board.
Of course, the MG also had to get us from Peterborough to Potters Bar and back. It performed admirably on this long trip, which includes the nightmarish A1 and plenty of stop-start traffic. This led me to a tiny-epiphany moment.
When we first bought our little MG, I thought it would be a hot-hatchhandful, so I was disappointed to find that our lower powered car was anything but. Our MG is, in fact, a very sensible and grown up car, which just so happens to look like a mouthy hot hatch, which actually makes it very desirable. In more recent years, manufacturers have allowed buyers to spec big wheels, racing stripes, and even wings on their lowest-powered hatchbacks – just like on our MG.
I guess the next question is what we’ll do with it once our £500 Challenge has run its course – our photographers are already asking what they’ll be hanging out of next.
Rodger Dudding’s 1974 Zagato Zele 1000, complete with fetching racing stripe. Foreground: MG ZR, Volkswagen van and two skips. Background: One of the most exciting car collections in existence. Rodger’ 1935 Austin Taxi – much classier than your average minicab rotter, and no tired suspension, crackly radio, dubious smells or dodgy seat stains to contend with, either.