Studio 434: Rodger Dudding discusses his unique car studio
Rodger Dudding purchased his first classic over 50 years ago and has since grown his collection to over 450 models. The collection has a piece of everything ranging from pre-war classics like the famous Ford Model T to an Audi convertible once used by Princess Diana.
On first sight, the collection is not just a car fan’s paradise but a historical timestamp to the last 100 years of engineering and social class.
Having made his fortune designing a revolutionary supermarket ticketing system used by many shop deli counters, Rodger set his sights on developing his classic car empire.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, he reveals his love affair with cars began over 70 years ago in his father’s garage.
He said: “[The interest began] possibly during WW2 when my late father was serving as a naval officer and he had even then was quite an elderly Clyno motor car.
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“Whenever he was home on leave, probably two or three times a year he used to tinker with his Clyno and I would help him as best I could. That’s where the interest really started.
“The first model I ever purchased was in actual fact one which I use quite regularly. It was a Jensen FF Interceptor in about 1968.
“It was years ahead of design and everything else being a permanent 4WD motor car with anti-lock brakes which were designed by Dunlop for aircraft.
“It’s quite a historical motor car and I have several Jensens in my collection from different series.”
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As a collector, Mr Dudding is no stranger to car auctions where he picks up some of the rarest models on the market.
However, with over 450 in his collection, he still has no plans to slow down his spending spree.
Last year, he spent over £1million in a single week after picking up a Jaguar XJ220 for over £330,000 and the only Railton F29 Claremont car ever built for £65,000.
He told Express.co.uk: “It will probably be like Topsy. It will keep on growing.”
He added: “If you’re sensible you probably have one or two and you stop at that. If you’re absolutely mad or bonkers like me you just keep adding to them.”
A quick glimpse around his specially adapted garage in Potters Bar evokes memories of some of the most memorable movie scenes in Hollywood.
However, Mr Dudding reveals a lot of his vehicles were used in some of the most iconic series on TV and film.
Six cars were used by the team making Elton John’s Rocketman last year while he also has connections to Netflix hit TV series The Crown.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “I’ve got two purpose-built designed film studios which I rent out to film companies, also they’ve got a ready supply of cars.
“If you speak in terms of films like The Crown or Peaky Blinders etc…in the main, the majority of cars used in those productions are hired from me.
“If they run on a second series like The Crown they came back and wanted to double-check that we still had the cars they used in the first series.”
However, he reveals there can be limitations to owning a classic car collection of this size with the older models often needing extensive maintenance.
All of the models are taken out for test drives on a regular basis to keep the engine in good shape while mechanics look at restoring models to their former glory.
He reveals it can take up to “two or three weeks” to find new parts for some of the models which may not have run off a production line for over half a century.
He told Express.co.uk: “I got an early Bristol and it’s been in with a specialist restorer.
“It’s been sadly neglected but is just a beautiful car. About four years ago I said to a colleague of mine who specialises in the restoration of Rolls and Bentley.
“I said to him about four years ago ‘here’s my lovely Bristol, it’s got a few hiccups, it’s got tummy trouble, will you sort it out for me?’.
“Well four years later he’s still got the car and he’s still sourcing three or four component parts for it, trawling the world.”
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