In the world of small-wheel drive
For those privileged few collectors of premier classic cars like the Aston Martin DB5 and Bugatti Type 35, there is very little left to conquer when it comes to automotive collectibles. With prices for these cars ranging from £ 500,000 to £ 5million, these valuable assets are usually passed between a select group of buyers who meticulously maintain or aim to increase their value. In practice, this means that the most famous cars in history are rarely seen in public, let alone on the road.
Ben Hedley and his team at The Little Car Company are working hard to keep the classic car dream alive. On their small scale. Founded less than three years ago, The Little Car Company was born after the 112-year-old French car maker Bugatti commissioned Hedley to remake the miniature Baby Bugatti that Ettore Bugatti made for his son in 1926. Since then the outfit then developed rapidly. Alongside the Bugatti, the lineup now includes scaled-down replicas of the iconic 007 Aston Martin DB5 – with a variant featuring some of Q’s trim – and the legendary Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa from the 1950s. There is also a Eight-tenths version of Tamiya’s iconic 1980s Wild One Max rc car. They’re both small enough for kids to drive and big enough for adults.
“It’s going well. We’ve gone from a Bugatti to five models now and we still have a few more up our sleeves,” says Hedley, the affable Little Car boss and serial entrepreneur, wearing a white shirt and jeans. “We have now produced 60 cars, 50 of which are already with their owners. On top of that, about 20% of the people who received their car immediately ordered another.”
Four more freebies for the driving freak
Connolly Sports Grip bag, £ 1,300
Founded in 1878, Connolly continued to supply most of the leather for the British automobile industry as well as the benches for the Houses of Lords and Commons. Its sport-grip bag is made from the brand’s signature car upholstery leather. connollyengland.com
The Outlierman Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Tie, £ 126.98
This limited edition tie features the legendary Ferrari 375 MM Coupé Speciale designed by Pininfarina, created for Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman in 1954. It is made in Italy from a silk twill fabric with a wool lining and is limited to 50 rooms. theoutlierman.com
Pullman Editions Art Déco à la Route, £ 420 (unframed)
Pullman Editions creates original posters designed to capture the allure of the era of art deco advertising, many of them depicting classic cars, races and rallies, each limited to 280 copies. pullmaneditions.com
Charabanc car air freshener, £ 145
Charabanc uses herbs and plants to recreate the scent of driving on the Pennines, the plains of Umbria or the peaks of East Asia and the Silk Road in his collection of car scents, which is packed in a steel pomander. charabanc.com
Although The Little Car Company’s designs are not currently factory approved for the road, an owner in the Netherlands has already taken the necessary steps to register his. “Ideally, we want people to be able to pull out these beautiful shapes and enjoy them,” says Hedley.
While her classic designs are almost identical to the real deal on the surface, below, it’s a different story. Behind the vintage skin and hand-battered bodywork is an automotive-grade lithium-ion battery and electric motor, which can propel cars to speeds of around 40 mph. Made with premium automotive components and materials, true to the cars over a million pounds they represent, these tiny cars require big budgets, time, and obsessive attention to detail to produce. At the factory, on an airfield in Bicester, near Oxford, the detailed process of manually building each car takes place in a workshop that looks like a true niche car production facility.
With prices for the recreation Bugatti Type 35 starting at € 30,000 and the current edition Aston Martin DB5 Junior No Time to Die weighing in at £ 90,000, Hedley’s cars are small but certainly not cheap. But given that full-size Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger continuation models and gadgets cost £ 2.75million each, and an original Bugatti Type 35 costs less than £ 5million, the micro tribute acts Hedley’s size look like a steal in comparison.
“People always think of them as expensive toys to start with,” Hedley says. “But then we show them that we take a complete classic car and make it 25% smaller while recreating it as faithfully as possible. And then they drive one up and see that it’s fast and genuine.
Together with Simone’s Ferrari test driver Raffaele and seasoned Le Mans winner Andy Wallace, the engineering team did their best to compare the miniature models to their adult counterparts. Aside from the lack of a combustion engine, the experience of hitting an old airfield at 40 mph in a comedically sized classic car certainly puts a smile on your face.
While The Little Car Company has made a name for itself recreating iconic classics, Hedley’s vision extends far beyond cute collectibles. “We’re going to build some for the race,” he said. “We would like there to be a new category of electric racing because there is not much other than Formula E and it helps bring kids into motorsport which is necessary.” Hedley’s mind wanders to other applications for his zero-emission compact classics. “I think there is a lack of lightweight electric cars on the market,” he adds. “So we think there is a real opportunity for small electric vehicles on our roads which are designed by people who love cars. “