The Little Car Company CEO Ben Hedley gives us insight into the creation of the Aston Martin DB5 Junior, Bugatti Baby II and official partnership with the Bugatti Owners’ Club
Think electric cars aren’t fun? The Little Car Company’s Ben Hedley is determined to prove you wrong
Ben Hedley is the CEO of The Little Car Company, the compact creator of the Aston Martin DB5 Junior and the Bugatti Baby II, which was revealed at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show and sold out in less than three weeks. On 11 November it was given the stamp of approval from the prestigious Bugatti Owners’ Club. Clearly, The Little Car Company, founded in 2018, has already made its mark.
Hedley is certain that his company’s junior models appeal to a new generation of car enthusiast. Brimming with knowledge and positivity, it isn’t hard to see why prestige marques Aston Martin and Bugatti have given him the responsibility of designing their authentic junior cars – fully functional models that are scaled down to 66% and 75% of the original size – and at a fraction of the price of their full-size- counterparts.
Here, Hedley tells us about the challenges of designing junior cars, how he and his team maintain standards and the importance of keeping classic cars around.
Ben, tell us about your new official partnership with the Bugatti Owners’ Club?
Working with them is brilliant. All classic Bugatti’s were petrol gasoline powered, but our junior Bugatti is electric. We hope that the partnership offers members something that they will not only use more and require less maintenance, but also opens up the Bugatti Members Club to a new generation who can enjoy the cars at a lower expense. We are very honoured to be working with the Bugatti Owners’ Club.
What inspired you to start The Little Car company?
Over the years, classic cars have become more expensive. As they’re too valuable to be taken on the road, there’s a danger they will stay locked in garages out of sight, preventing people seeing these beautiful objects from the past. [With The Little Car Company], I have visions of parents and children enjoying the car together. The DB5 Junior, for example, is big enough for a child and an adult to sit in together, and so children can learn to drive in a classic DB5, which used to be beyond people’s wildest dreams.
How did your partnership with Bugatti and Aston Martin begin?
Originally, Bugatti approached me to do something for their 110th anniversary at the Geneva Motor Show; Bugatti’s in-house engineering team were busy working on the ‘La Voiture Noire', which was the special edition of the world’s most expensive car ($18.68 million). We created a concept for them demonstrated in a 3D print model, and they loved it. We were then approached by Aston Martin. Of course, the DB5 was the car I remembered from my youth as a Bond enthusiast, and so I felt that we should do that.
The nice thing is that we collaborate hand-in-hand with the brand on a daily basis to create these beautiful little cars, which will hopefully be objects that withstand the test of time and will be passed down the generations. Sometimes we have to get out bed in the morning and pinch ourselves that we get to interpret and redesign these beautiful works from the past. The trust Aston Martin and Bugatti put in us to reinterpret these cars under their stewardship and release them as official is crazy!
What are the challenges in creating these cars?
The challenges are huge. Even though we’re making the cars at a smaller scale they still have four wheels, a steering wheel and a powertrain like their full-size equivalents. They are also hand-made limited editions made in very small volumes, and they’re manufactured here in the UK. It’s therefore very hard to keep the price point significantly lower for the junior versions, especially as we want to hit quality and build something that will last and be passed down through families in the future. Luckily I have a brilliant engineering team to find the answers, all based in our beautiful Bicester Heritage HQ in the middle of Oxfordshire - a Classic Car heaven!
How did The Little Car Company get to where you are today?
The attention to detail on these cars is enormous. From day one we said we were going to make them perfect. Everybody who has seen them in the flesh has been blown away by the quality and detail, and we put in these little ‘Easter eggs’ – for example the fuel pump on the original Bugatti 35 was 3D scanned, and has been repurposed as the gear selector.
We worked with the same people who made the original dials for the Aston Martin, and replicated them right down to the level of the font and the size of the needle. It was all about getting everything absolutely perfect and producing something we can be really proud of.
The key thing I have learnt over the years is that the most important thing is how you recruit your team and who you bring on board. I have a brilliant team, they do a brilliant job and I am very proud of them. Everybody in the business gets a share when they join because I want them to feel that it is their business so they're engaged.
What we can expect to see from The Little Car Company?
We’re very lucky that we have had pretty much universal approval from all the companies we’ve worked with to date, and I can say that we have other projects in the pipeline to be announced early next year. I can’t say more, but they’re incredibly fun and collectors are going to go crazy for them - they’re a bit special! We’re also looking at expanding the range of cars we’re going to produce and we’re looking to kick off the Little Car Club next year, featuring events families can bring their junior cars along to, and take turns driving, either around a racetrack or perhaps a country estate together.