The Cotswolds: Beautiful scenery and classic English landscapes covered with tempting winding roads – the dream for any car lover.
Laura Kukuk headed to the North Cotswolds to discover Mather Collectable Motorcars Ltd, a beautiful showroom filled with amazing cars.
Ben Mather, the founder and owner started his exciting journey five years ago at the age of 21. This was after he had exposed himself to the world of auctioneering within the Bonhams Motorcars department for a year or so. He says, “I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and made some great friends whilst there”, but he always knew his way forward would be independently and in 2013 he realized his dream. “My first auction was a nerve-wracking experience but thankfully it went very well,” says the now 26 year-old, seemingly very happy with his decision of independency and working his way up in the world of classic cars.
My plan was to stop for a quick coffee on my way back from Birmingham, catch up with Ben and give Beans (his French Bulldog) a cuddle.
However, whilst there I thought I ought to use the time to dig a little deeper into Ben’s journey. The coffee break quickly turned into an interview which we both hugely enjoyed. Trying to focus my mind on questions I struggle not to base my first on Beans, especially now she has made herself comfortable on my lap in Ben’s office constantly nudging my arm for more cuddles whilst I try to concentrate on my interview.
So tell me Ben, you and Beans seem to be inseparable and she seems to be following you everywhere you go. What’s the story behind her?
“Beans has become quite a talking point and proves time and again upon any outing that she is far more interesting than either myself or my cars. Understandably so. From the day i collected her at 12 weeks old, she was hopping in and out of all sorts of noisy old cars. She continues to travel with me in almost any car I am in, and wherever I may be going. She is great company and a great laugh. She also has the capacity to bring even the most old-school workshop to a halt and transform it’s occupying ‘laddish’ mechanics into mushy wimps, who begin talking to her in rather out of character child-like voices. Remarkable, and great fun to watch. I would like to add the obligatory ‘she’s a real babe magnet’ comment, however sadly this is yet to become a fact, maybe I’m doing something wrong.”
I totally see a whole workshop paying her all the attention, probably getting you in trouble from time to time. But back to cars, you established your passion for cars at a very young age, tell us what was your first car?
“My first car was actually a new Mini which my father very kindly presented to me just before my 17th birthday. However, despite my obvious gratitude, and much to his dismay on the day I passed my test I set out and swapped said Mini for a 1969 MGB GT.”
What a brilliant story, as I predicted, a true classic car lover. Driving myself an MG TD, I know how many struggles one can have with the good old MGs. Did you have similar experiences?
“I covered over 12,000 miles within my first seven months on the road in that car, and it was fantastic fun. It didn’t break down once – despite having its neck wrung on every journey by a spotty 17-year-old. Proof – old cars need to be driven, not simply polished and gawked at.”
Amazing, sounds like you had better luck with your MG than I have had so far with mine. Talking about your business and experiences so far, what is the most memorable deal you have been involved in?
“My most memorable ‘deal’ was a number of years ago when myself and a friend stumbled across a beautifully engineered aluminium body shell for a Jaguar D-Type for sale in Holland. I had recently taken a P38 Range Rover 4.6 in as a part exchange against an E-Type… don’t ask me why.
Having never driven this 20-year-old Range Rover and being well aware of the P38’s somewhat questionable reliability, of course we immediately hitched up a trailer and set off from the Cotswolds to the land of clogs and windmills. Upon our arrival, we were greeted then shown around the most enormous, mind blowing and glorious private collection of cars I have seen to date. Somewhat jaded and running purely on adrenaline and Red Bull we loaded the D-Type body onto the trailer and immediately set back for the UK. After 24 hours of non-stop driving, we made it back and sold the D-Type almost immediately. Happy days.”
Mind blowing, such an incredible story and truly seems like an unforgettable experience. So where are you heading to, what is the bigger picture?
“I aim to simply continue as I am. Due to the fact I do not specialise in any one make, model or era of car, I am free to pick and choose from a wide choice of cars that I personally love and therefore can get excited about whilst selling. I took a space in London late last year for some of my more specialist vehicles, which is proving to be helpful. I have also recently established a videography company along with two very talented chaps, we concentrate on creating short films showcasing special motorcars. Lots of fun, and proving to be busy. Onwards and upwards.”
Yes, I have seen a few of your latest videos and really liked the way you have captured the car while telling it’s story. I think the location of your showroom in the Cotswolds really benefits from the possibility to take the cars out on a drive and be able to take beautiful moving images as you and your team seem to. Was that the reason to move to the Cotswolds?
“My location in the Cotswolds works perfectly for what I am doing here, I have tonnes of space both indoor and outdoor. There are fantastic roads on which to enjoy the cars I am dealing with and no matter where you go, every backdrop looks like a photo shoot. The Cotswolds is absolutely perfect for capturing the romantic aspects and the magic of classic car ownership. London works simply because of the convenience for individuals traveling into the UK or folk who are time poor.”
I totally agree, it is a stunning location and I can’t wait for us to go out playing with the cars, but before we do that I have one more question. In the world of classic cars, we have people from all kinds of business areas and backgrounds coming together but the one thing uniting us is the passion and enthusiasm for classic cars – we all seem to be equally as foolish around them. So, speaking of dealing with people, who is your ideal customer?
“Luckily I have managed to build a small group of clients over the past few years. We tend to deal with each other regularly and are very upfront with one another. This, wherever possible is how I like to do business. More often than not, my cars sell before they make it to the open market. Aside from this, my ideal customer is simply somebody down to earth, somebody who is buying for the love of the car, not for the love of money.”
Great, I totally agree, we need to drive cars out of passion and equally so when collecting them. Cars need to be driven, need to be maintained and not put in the corner as a different kind of stock value.
On that note, we got up and wondered through the showroom, needless to say that the atmosphere in this pre-war building filled with a variety of great cars in the middle of the stunning Cotswolds is almost magical. The true spirit of car enthusiasm paired with just the right amount of nostalgic automobilia turn this showroom into the perfect place to experience some of the #fever, Henry Hope-Frost used to talk of so much.
As the weather allowed we opened the grey metal doors and fired up the stunning aluminium bodied, FIA specification C-Type recreation which we decided to take on a ride on such a lovely day. I can’t wait to hop in and as we start driving out Ben explains more what he has written about this car: “Every now and again a car comes along that is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. When said car has the aesthetic appeal of a Jaguar C-Type and a driving experience to surpass even it’s looks, you have a very special car indeed.”
As we drive on I truly understand what he means, there is truly no notable difference between this and a genuine C-Type other than you feel much more comfortable manoeuvring this car at high speeds through the country roads enjoying the handling and feel of the car. Safe in the knowledge you aren’t close to smashing £5,000,000 through a hedge.
You want to get a hint of my experience? Check it out being driven via the video Ben and his team have made:
As we return I have a massive smile on my face and am sad at the thought of needing to head back to my rental Fiat and leave these beautiful cars. But, I can’t wait to return next time and get to have a play with Ben’s 1981 Audi Quattro, the ex VAG group press car and genuine rally car, so exciting. Stay tuned to hear more about Ben, his cars, his videos and most importantly of all, his dog.