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Duke of London: The Apex Interviews Merlin McCormack

On this week's episode of the Apex, we sat down with Merlin McCormack, an icon of the London car scene and owner of Duke of London, one of the coolest car dealerships in the UK. It's also hub for car culture, a home for other interesting local businesses, and an integral part of the Brentford community. As Merlin expands his empire, we caught up with him to discuss his long term plans, his thoughts on the current car market, Malle London shenanigans, and turning up to Retromobile in a 90’s Bentley Limousine with Leopard print carpets! 

Archie Hill interviews Merlin McCormack for The Apex by Custodian. Produced and Edited by Archie Hill.

Merlin, welcome to the show. 

Thank you for having me Archie. 

This is my first time here and I'm sure you've heard this before, but I do kind of feel like I'm on the set of a Guy Ritchie movie.

I'll take that. Thank you. It has got a sort of film set finish to it. We were only supposed to be here temporarily, so it's not quite as polished as the new place is going to be. But yeah, no, thank you. Appreciate that. 

It's quite an exciting time for you because you are moving to a new location, but before we come on to that, I'm keen to hear a little bit about how you got your start in the car world and how Duke of London came to be.

Credit: Archie Hill

Yeah. So it started out, growing up around cars. Mum and Dad always had interesting cars, be it classic stuff or modern stuff. Nothing particularly fancy, but Dad's background is classic car restoration. So he started out at Mulliner Park Ward on the production line building Phantoms and Cornish's back in the, what would have been mid seventies. And when he was 30, he started up a business called Romance of Rust, which is a classic car restoration business that's still running today and based on site here. So I grew up in the workshop with him, spent school holidays sweeping the floors, making tea poorly and making a nuisance of myself, but off the back of that became a bit more engaged and then, bought my first car when I was 11 on eBay and flipped that and it literally just spiraled from there. Stopped studying, probably should have studied a bit harder, but yeah, it was good fun. 

And looking around, there is a sort of, artistic vibe, to this place. Is that because it's an extension of you in many ways, or is it a very curated approach?

Yeah, I think the space itself and the cars moreover are things that we like. And it's a collaborative effort and coming together. Both the team that I work with, my family and also Georgia, my other half, have been massively instrumental in the aesthetic of the spaces. She won't want to take responsibility for the showroom, she doesn't like it. But the new space is all being designed by her and it's going to be phenomenal. So we've kind of leaned into, I guess, expanding what we see and what we like. You've missed all the art, it's all been taken down. This is quite literally the very last bit of coverage or anything we'll have of the space, so we're out of here literally next week. We're already mid move. 

Credit: Archie Hill

As far as I'm aware, you do, at the moment, have a lot of businesses operating out of this space as well. I think you've got a Gym, a Cobblers…

Yeah, so this is all in transition, but a lot of them we're retaining. We've got all in about 40 businesses that we sublet space out to on, The Brentford Riviera, we've dubbed it. Most of them used to be based here, but over the last couple of weeks have transitioned into new spaces. We've managed to retain about 90 percent of our existing tenants, which we're really, really happy with. And on a longer term basis as well. So the properties we're moving them into are buildings that we've taken on a longer term. And yeah, like you say, it's all small local independent businesses, mainly creative, some automotives and restorers and detailers and things like that as well. And then yeah, gym and things like that. The gyms moved sadly to the side of the high street and not with us anymore, but very much still in the vicinity and we just didn't have anything big enough to accommodate them for now.

But yeah, it's, it's been a nice kind of pooling together of the community. We were the first thing down here before they built all the shishi flats behind us. And this was one of the last buildings standing amongst a load of rubble when we moved in. So it's been really quite magical to see it organically grow. And, you know, it owes its success to the likes of the businesses that have been based here. 

Is that all part of a grander vision for Duke of London? 

It wasn’t, but it is now. We've made the whole thing up as we've gone along to be honest. But we've kind of got a bit more strategy behind it now. And the reason we didn't bother planning further ahead is we've had this building on a three month rolling agreement for the last nearly six years. So we could only plan three months ahead. And we've been very open about that with our clients and our tenants as well. And with that, we've been able to essentially massively subsidise a lot of these guys in their rent. So we've been able to provide space for people where this was their first business premises in most cases, or first artist studio or first restaurant, and that's been an amazing thing to kind of also incubate these businesses.

Not that we've been there and been instrumental in their growth per se, but I think having the facility here has enabled them to exist in a part of West London that would otherwise have priced them out from the off and where they've been able to grow. Consequently, they're now able to take on a sort of bigger commitment on other properties with us. And, we're keen to continue to roll that out and we're still operating way under market rent on our tenancy spaces. You know, it's a business we have to eat as well, but we try and be as lean with our margins as possible to accommodate as many Local community members who want to be a part of what we're building.

Credit: Archie Hill

I saw you also have a drive-in Cinema. Is that sticking around? 

Yeah. That's one of Georgia's ideas. I can't take credit for that. But, yeah, Duke's drive-in, we're hosting another one, in Battersea. Ballymore, who own this site, the Brentford Project. They've got a site at Embassy Gardens next to the U.S Embassy. So we've got a big day there in a couple of weeks, still tickets available. And yeah, it’s a real nice thing for the car community that. That one in particular, we're doing a couple of early day screenings like a morning family children's film thing and a lunchtime screening as well whereby it will be a kind of deck chair affair with some of our cars that people can rent.

And then there's two screenings in the evening where again you can rent one of our cars or deck chairs but people will also be able to bring their classic cars. And we're restricting it just to classic cars for the car community. We're bound by the confines of the space as we were here when we used to do them here, but we get 20, 30 cars in, roller skating waitresses. We try and recreate the whole Mel's drive-in thing. It's good. It's really good fun.

I saw that you were using the space as a filming location, have you ever had anything interesting being filmed here? 

We have. We're listed with quite a lot of locations agencies and Luke who works with us is almost full time managing our film location stuff now. So, we've got properties in Brentford and Richmond and in town as well that we look after either stuff that is ours or we kind of manage for the owners as well. And, yeah, we've got two shoots on this week. With the whole filming strikes, the big jobs, sadly, have slowed down a bit, but that's all coming to a head. So hopefully we'll pick back up on that. But yeah, generally at the moment, lots of editorial stuff, fashion stuff, and music videos. We work with some really, really cool brands, like, amazing stuff. A lot of stuff we're under NDA for, but it's really been a big help. Another string in our bow. And Luke's done an amazing job managing that, and, yeah, to have this space again with the cars, that kind of complements it. We don't just hire out clients' cars unless we've run past them and got their blessing first, but with our own fleet of stuff, it's been nice to be able to provide a space where the producers can also hire cars as well. So, yeah, it goes hand in hand. It's worked really well. 

Credit: Archie Hill

And on the car side of things, it's a very, again, eclectic mix. How do you go about choosing which cars you have in stock? 

I think frankly, we're not very commercially minded about it, and we probably should be a bit better at that. But we really do just tend to stock stuff that we like. And obviously from people we like as well. We've been very lucky that the business isn't dependent primarily on the sales side of things. And that's afforded us a luxury that we didn't foresee where we can, kind of pick and choose and be a bit more selective and not to say elitist, far from it. We've got a four grand Punto Cabriolet over there, awesome thing. Green over tan. But we've also got stuff up into the six figures. We won't just take on any old supercar or whatever. It has to be of a standard and either be, you know, to have a story, low mileage, interesting. And we'll sell projects as well when we're pretty open about that. We'll get stuff in, be it in barn find condition or otherwise that we can sell on to people who want to enjoy the process of a restoration or back to trade or whatever. So yeah, it's, it's massively eclectic. 

We're very proud to have you as a partner dealer on Custodian as well, listing your cars for sale on our marketplace, and one thing I noticed when I'm going through the showroom and looking at cars is the way in which you present your cars and the photography side of things. Has that become more important to you over the years? What’s the deal there? 

I think if you rewind to when Instagram was starting to become utilised by businesses, probably seven, eight years ago now, I'd always been using that as a tool to kind of, promote what we were up to. I guess for bragging rights, that's practically what Instagram was and is.

Still is, I think. 

Yeah, quite. Bit of willy waving. And we started to get quite a few inquiries through it, and no one really was taking it very seriously. I remember being sat at, you know, sort of trade dinners with friends in the motor trade, maybe of an older generation, going, yeah, we're selling this or that through that and that.

You could see that they just thought we were lying through our teeth. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Whatever. So we continued to utilise that. And then I realised quite quickly that engagement was so heavily dependent on the quality of the imagery. And we've worked with some phenomenal photographers over the years who have helped frankly create an identity for our brand, so yeah, massively grateful and indebted to them. Charles who works for us now is our sort of in-house, content creator. So he's doing all of our stock photos and more, as well as some sales and marketing stuff. And he really has come on leaps and bounds. He came in here mid lockdown walking the dog. I think he probably should have been locked up at home. And yeah, he walked past, we had an MGB, sat up on the mezzanine here. It's his dream car. He just moved here from Dubai. French kid. Didn't know anyone in town. And he never fucking left. And four years later, he's still here with the MG. He bought the car off of us and ended up with a job. And we've kind of, yeah, we've grown together. And he's been absolutely instrumental in, again, kind of giving us a stronger brand image.  

And I have to mention the DBS Casino Royale inspired video you made. Were you able to sell the car off the back of that video?

So weirdly, we made that with a firm called Blood Orange Film, with Sam Hendrick and we had my brother dubbed as Bond and we had the Brentford Cobbler in a dress, as the screaming lady being bundled into the back of a Cayenne. That was really good fun to actually make that. But we got the first edit of it and I sent it to a guy who'd inquired about the car that afternoon, whom we’d sold cars to before. And before we could even publish the video, he was like, I’ll have it. Just off the back of that video. So it was, yeah, it was quite a nice, uh, I think he would've bought it anyway, to be honest, but I think that was the tipping point.

Going back to cars, you are first and foremost a car dealer, what do you make of the current car market at the moment?  

I mean, it's a buyer's market. There's no qualms there. You just gotta get on with it and accept that it's cyclical. We're finding that everything we're selling is hyper price sensitive. The majority of what we do sell is on consignment. We do own some of the stock, but a large proportion of it is on consignment. And we're just having to be really realistic and open with our vendors and manage their expectations more than we've ever had to before. And with that, naturally, a lot of people are going, well actually, I  wouldn't take that for it, so apologies, I won't consign it. And that's fine. We are having to work harder for consignments in some respects. But I think as the brand's grown as well, we're very lucky in as much as people approach us more than we have to look for it.

So generally it's just about managing people's pricing expectations. When we price something correctly, we'll know it because the phone will ring. Gone are the days for now. Where you put something on speculatively, and people phone you up and kick in the balls for it, and you know, take the piss. People won't even bother calling now, unless it's deemed to be in the right kind of region for the pricing. I think, yeah, the likes of the online auction platforms have been, you know, massive help and hindrance in as much as there's no way of, uh, you know, everything's so accountable in terms of pricing.

It's so easy to go, yeah, well hang on, that one only just sold for that, and that one's that. Buying from a dealer comes with its benefits naturally from a consumer's perspective, warranties and things like that, a bit of security. But, you know, it's not a 20-30 percent benefit. It's quantifiable, but certainly not as much as people have tried in the past. And you have to reflect that to get stuff sold. 

Credit: Archie Hill

Are there any particular segments that you get quite excited about? Modern classics for example?  

We sell more, ‘67, ‘68 Mustang Fastbacks and Range Rover Classics than anything and have done so for the last two or three years. We work with a couple of great suppliers on both marques. And we know that when the cars come in, they'll need nominal prep and we can put our names to them with comfort because the guys that are supplying us the cars are brilliant. Really top of their game. I think we've got a bit of a rep for that, but equally, you know, stuff like this [Ferrari 348 GTS], that's a bit more, you know, wildcard. Special, interesting bits always get us excited.

And harking back to the Punto, a very good mate of mine bought that on eBay and spent a disproportionate amount of money on it. It's a Concours 90s Punto Cabriolet for probably a quarter of what it would cost you to do. So it's just interesting stuff really. 

Credit: Archie Hill

I'm always looking at Porsche 996’s for sale, what's your take on those? 

As long as they've had the RMS/IMS bits done. They're great. One of the lads that works for us is looking at one at the moment. I think the C4S is the prettiest of the lot. The big bum and the grills on the rear bumper. 20 grand for a nice one. It's a lot of car for the money. But just get them inspected first, because they can be eye watering to own. 

That's the problem, isn't it? It's cheap to buy, but maybe not so cheap to run or look after. What draws you to a car from a personal ownership point of view? I know you've had some pretty interesting cars that I'll come on to, but what floats your boat? 

I always get asked, like, what's your favourite car? It’s an occupational hazard, I don't have one. It's impossible. You know what it's like being, kind of, in the trade. It's, every time you see something, we're like, you know, fickle fucks that go, Oh, what about that one? Oh, what about this one? I don't think there's a part of, certainly me and a lot of our customers who, there's lots of things they want to try, and you don't need to own them all at the same time.

So it's kind of progressing your way through a kind of ideology more than anything. And more often than not, it is an ideology. I had this conversation with a friend yesterday. He's just consigned his Audi RS2 with us and I was referring to, I had a 190 Cosworth, Mercedes 2.3 16 valve thing, manual in smoke silver, Senna spec. And it was one of those cars that I bought as a project, spent a fortune on restoring, was really excited to finally get in it and drive it, and within the first sort of week of driving it, it was kind of like, it's very good, but it's slightly underwhelming. It's not fast, it's not, I don't know why in my head, I guess the racing connotations and associations of the car led me to falsely, subconsciously think that it was going to be some sort of hot thing. It was a very nice car, but it wasn't thrilling. 

It didn’t set your world on fire. 

Yeah, quite, and there's like a part of me that wants to get into stuff, try it out, see if it's nice. And there's also stuff that's really surprised me. Cars that I've bought thinking I'll keep it for five minutes and just fall and head over heels with it, like I could never sell this. So, yeah, it's funny the ones that catch you out.  

I know you do have a Testarossa, don't you? 

Yeah, that's one of the cars, yeah. 

That wasn't always brown, was it? Did you paint it brown? What’s the story there? 

Yeah, so it's a German supplied Euro left hand drive 90 car, so, you know, five lug late car. I went to look at loads a couple years ago and that was the only one on the market at the time that kind of ticked all the boxes.

It wasn't the colour I wanted. I really, really didn't want a red one. And everything else that was out there was, there was like a yellow one in the market with blue leather, which, yeah.

That's punchy. 

Yeah. You can get away with a lot, but that was, yeah, even by our standards, that was a lot. Um, and then really low mileage cars that just felt kind of hard and crispy. And I knew I was going to put loads of miles on it, so it didn't warrant paying a premium for one. I really wanted a white one. There weren't any white ones available in the country at the time. That could have been bought for sensible money at least. And so I bought a Rosso Corsa car, sent it off to the guys at Litchfield and they did their PPS. So it's, I completely misunderstood the product when I had it done, but essentially they spray a peelable PPF base coat and then paint the car conventionally on top. I thought it was one product that just sprays on. But I completely misunderstood that, which is great because I got it back and I was like, the finish on this is like car paint. I can't believe it doesn't look like a wrap or whatever. And it's Nocciola, an old Daytona colour, from the seventies. It's like a hazelnut.

I’d never seen a Testarossa in it and I just, yeah, I saw a Marrone one at Pebble Beach a couple of years ago in an auction.It looked great, but it's just a bit dull. And this really pops in the light and all sorts. So yeah, they did an amazing job with that. And it's preserved and essentially PPF’d over all of the original, red paint underneath it. So when I come to sell it, if I ever do, I'll peel it off and there's a red car underneath it. I think colour changing it formally would've been a little bit detrimental to its value.  

And that's one of the cars you've really sort of fallen in love with?

I intended to keep it for summer and I've had it for two years and changed the colour on it. So, yeah, it's off having new carpets put in it at the moment with Unrivalled. I'm smitten with that car. I'm off to Italy in a couple of weeks and yeah, I've done 20,000 km in it. I love it.  

Is it true that you turned up to Retromobile in a 90s Bentley limousine with diplomatic flags and leopard print carpets?  

Yeah! That was good fun. We had dinner on the second night with a friend of ours who had a stand at the show. He's like, you're such a wanker. I was like, why? Well, my whole Instagram, I spent all this money on this stand. Shipped all the cars out, and my Instagram feed is just full of your fucking Bentley. So it worked. That wasn't the intention. The boys had a really good month in January and I said to them, if we hit our target by the end of the month. I'll take you to Retromobile. And they smashed it mid month. And I thought, you know, they've worked their asses off this month. So I sent one of the lads up North to pick up this six door Bentley limousine that had been a funeral car its whole life. It was a bit ominous. We breathed some life into it.

I didn't tell him where he was going and what he was picking up. I swore him to secrecy not to tell the other boys for a couple of weeks. He brought it back down. We trimmed it with leopard print carpets, boomerang aerial on it, tinted it, a silly sound system in it, Apple CarPlay, diplomatic flags, as you say, with the Duke flags on and private plates. And yeah, we really had  one of those trips that you will cherish the memories of forever. Got it back, sold it to a really good guy, who had similar kind of ambitions with it. It didn't go wrong. Paid absolutely fuck all for it, sold it for less than it owed me, but I didn't care. It went to the right home and yeah, it was a really, really, really fun thing.

I remember seeing it and just thinking, yeah, that's epic. 

The Parisian reaction to it was the best bit about it. It's all well and good people seeing it on Instagram. But you know, they hate the English at the best of times and to be so obnoxious with it, it felt good. 

Yeah. Good on you for doing that. And you're also a massive bike guy as well, aren't you? You’ve competed in the Malle Mile right? 

I mean, I think competes, uh, yeah. We just have a couple of beers and go riding around a field. It's an amazing series of events and we're off to the Malle beach race in Margate in a couple of weeks. Robert and Johnny put those events on. It’s brilliantly nuts and there are a lot of similarities in our businesses. There's a lot of it that's kind of like, right, well, this has happened. Let's just do this instead. It's so adaptable, especially on the beach race when the tide comes in, for instance.

Credit: Archie Hill

Yeah, big shout out to them, they're fantastic boys. So we're off to that and we take a whole assortment of bikes. We really like our sort of 70s twin shock, two stroke stuff. Things like that Husky I bought a couple of years ago. It's almost too nice to take there, so I won't take that, I'm going to sell that. But yeah, and the three wheelers as well, the ATCs from the 80s. Uh, I love those. 

Don’t you have a pink one? 

I've got a pink 125M, four stroke, ‘87, and a 250ES Bigfoot. And then the one I'm racing this year will be a, I took it last year as well, it's a 250R, which is the one that got banned in America. It's a 250, 2 stroke twin, it's hilarious. Drifts everywhere. Quite a knack to get it right. The thing that everyone does and the reason they got banned is, you go to slow down, being on a bike, you think to put your foot down, and you'll immediately run up the back of your leg and snap your femur. So, yeah, they're quite good fun, but you need to know how to keep them on two wheels. If you can get it up on two wheels, you need to know how to keep it on two wheels. I'm not saying I'm an expert, far from it. I had a big off a couple of years ago. Had an argument with a tree on a two wheel dirt bike. I was in a cast for a year. So that was a life lesson. 

Broken arm was it? 

Yeah, my bone tried to make a break for it and I tried to make it sort of make love with a tree. That's good fun. Not. Wouldn’t recommend it,I really lost my bottle after that. It's taken a while to get back on the bike. 

I grew up riding mountain bikes, and yeah trees are not fun to crash into. 

I don't know why, I didn't expect it to be as hard as it was.  

Yeah, no, I think four wheels is definitely safer than two. 

We've managed to do some numbers on four wheels, don't get me wrong. 

Yeah I'm sure. I suppose touching on some of the other areas of the car market as well, what are your thoughts on electric cars? 

I can see the appeal, certainly with the tax reliefs and things like that, from a consumer's perspective. I think what's really interesting is the way they're being branded now. And the shift in it being a green vehicle. If you look at the way, you know, things like when the Nissan Leaf came out, and people started to drive Priuses, we're going back like 10, 15 years. It was primarily a kind of ecological narrative. And if you look at it now, it's more about, oh, the ranges, or the, frankly, again, the tax relief, or, you know, people have to be a bit careful how they present them. But it's less and less about the green side of it, because frankly it's been proven time and time again that these things aren't good for the environment.

They've still got a massive impact and, you know, as with modern cars on the whole, be it combustion engine or otherwise, their shelf life is so short that we can't sit here and, you know, pretend that these things are going to save the world. Frankly, you know, the age old cliche that it's all well and good having a Tesla plugged into an electric charger or whatever, but what's powering that? And until we've got on top of that, therein lies the issue for me. And you can then go down the route of getting twisted about how the batteries are made as well, which, you know, we could be here for hours talking about that. 

I understand the concept. I think technologically they’re phenomenal. The best electric thing I've driven personally was one of the Taycan Turismo S things. I loved it. Brilliant. I really didn't want to like it. It's a brilliant car. I mean, it's really phenomenal to drive. Naturally, massively fast, but people who've bought anything electric will attest to the fact that they get in there all excited thinking they're changing the world and then go, oh, it's quoted a 300 mile range and I'm still 100 miles from home having to pull over again for another charge, and that's if the charger works. I think we haven't got the infrastructure properly polished yet. And the green benefits are all a bit farcical in my eyes. I get it, but I don't get it.  

So you're not going to put a battery in the Testarossa or anything like that?

I saw that was done and I was a bit like, yeah, good luck to the guys that did it, but not my bag. 

Credit: Archie Hill

Yeah, that's fair enough. Have you got any exciting events sort of upcoming for Duke of London? I suppose with the new premises, you're going to have a launch / anything that people can get involved in?

So we've currently, full disclosure, we were due to open our new showroom and still are, mid summer. As with any building project, things take longer than anticipated. One thing none of us foresaw was that there's an issue with a greater problem with the sewage network in front of us, not the actual sewers per se. It's a new connection that needs to be made in front of our unit.  That's nothing to do with us. Just feeds basically the rest of Brentford.

That's taking Thames water and whoever else a hell of a lot longer to get in than planned, so unfortunately that's going to have a bit of an impact on us. It won't stop us from opening and it won't stop us from trading, but it won't be as finished as we'd have liked it to have been, so that's a bit of a shame. But we'll be opening our new event space and hosting our first couple of car meets in about a month's time. Our new storage facilities, we're basically tripling our capacity for storage over what we've already got, so we're rehousing all of our existing storage clients cars. And then, I think we've got another 70 spaces on top of what we've already got between two other buildings. So it's all in conjunction with the showroom as well. So they're all interlinked, which will be great. It means people who are coming in to drop their cars off storage, get the use of all of our facilities downstairs.

So there'll be, you know, we're carrying over the bar, the coffee shop, there'll be a kind of clubhouse meeting room lounge for storage customers as well to utilise essentially much the same as this place. It's an open door policy.  We're not funny about whatever, as long as people come in and respect the cars and behave themselves. We want people to come in and experience things. And it always takes people a back, people come stand by the shutter kind of nervously. Like, am I allowed in? It's like, yeah, there's signs everywhere saying please don't touch anything. But treat it like a kind of open museum, if you will. We've got plans to have the event space, which we're announcing next week. I don't want to say too much, but it's quite cool. It will be open from the end of May. 

It's quite a quirky space. We still have a showroom space as well. It's not going to be like, you know, we have to give up selling cars for a while, far from it, but yeah, it's going to be a little while longer than we'd hoped to get the bar and the coffee shop and everything else open, which is fine. We'll adapt. We always do. We work with some great local food truck vendors as well. So for all of our events, catering and stuff won't be an issue. We've got Plonker's Bar, our bar that was based here and will be based in the new showroom. We've managed to put that into one of our beautiful Georgian office buildings. So that's in there on a popup basis for the next few months. So we're just trying to keep the momentum of everything going. But yeah, lots planned, lots of change. And again, the new space itself being a longer term deal, with a whole new rebranded finish, it's gonna be a big step up for us.

Yeah, I was going to say, have you thought about what the next 5 years look like for Duke of London? Do you have a vision for that? 

I'm growing up now to the point where I'm having to think about things like this. When we took this place on, we couldn't think about stuff because of the nature of, you know, short term tenure here. But we've got plans to expand. We don't need to reinvent the wheel and take over the world either. Our creative workspaces are actively expanding. The film locations we're starting to formalise into more of an agency, so that's kind of the business side of that. In terms of car storage, we're taking on more sites still, in addition to what we are opening in the next couple of months. The demand for it, with our existing clientele is sufficient to keep us ticking over. There's other people in the area, but I think where we've got the facilities and people kind of know us for the community aspects of it helps. Then we've got the sales side of it continuing to grow. We have had our best year in terms of volume so far. Best quarter ever last quarter in terms of volume.

Again, prices are down, but we just want to keep metal moving. We want stuff coming in and out. We don't want to undersell anything, but we want to keep buoyant in terms of what's in the showroom. Keep it interesting for people visiting. It's nothing worse than going past everyday and seeing the same dozen cars sat in there month in, month out. 

We've been there. It's depressing to look at ourselves. So yeah, I kind of want to get this space opened and then grow into it. So within five years we'll be in a position where we're, not self sufficient, it's always going to need its input, but yeah. I'd like some time off as well at some point. Just a holiday would be lovely and I think Georgia would appreciate that as well.


Yeah, a weekend in Italy, but yeah, something a bit longer than that. 

I was going to end on a few quickfire questions. You've got 10k to spend on a car. What are you buying? 

10k today… I am buying a P38 Range Rover. love mine. Three of the boys at work have since bought them. They love theirs. Lots of friends are getting into them. The late four litres are ULEZ compliant. Yeah, fine, they go wrong, but they're actually pretty inexpensive to fix as well.

It's kind of a misconception. The air suspension is the biggest Achilles heel on them. You either convert them to coils or two and a half grand, you just change everything once and it then works. I think they're still great value. They feel modern to drive. I like the L322 as well, but I think the P38 has just got a bit more character and the classics are twice the price. So yeah, I think they've got some room to grow. 

Good answer. What’s in your dream 3 car garage?

That's tricky. As of right now, I think just because of my love for it and like, I feel sort of loyalty to it, that Testarossa. I'd love to put it on throttle bodies. That's why if I do end up keeping it forever, it's going on ICBs and we'll have some fun with the brakes. So that car. Something to cruise around in. I'd love something like a 300 SL Roadster, something pretty and cruisery and posy. Just love those. And then something silly. I'd love a CLK GTR. It'd have to be a roadster. There you go. There's three cars. 

Favourite car you have in stock right now? 

That’s a tricky question. It's like choosing your children. Lamborghini Silhouette. I haven't launched that yet. It's going through prep, but it's a special car that.

What's your biggest car buying regret? It could be a car that you bought and wish you hadn't or a car that you had the opportunity to buy and sort of missed out on and thought, Oh, what if, you know? 

How long have you got? I think my most expensive day at Goodwood was probably my biggest regret. I bought a car off of a certain art car man, and he delivered it the night before. I drove it, it was an Alfa 75 with a twin spark in it that someone had put a turbo on. Seemingly, tried and tested, not throwing him under the bus, he’d owned it for five minutes himself. Did two laps of Goodwood in it and it threw a rod out the side of the block. So yeah. I think I lost about seven grand in a day. That was quite good.

Yeah. That’ll do it.

I'll go with that one. It was a great looking thing. It had this sriracha livery on it and I sold it to a friend of mine. He’s going to build it back up and whatever else. But, um, yeah, that I'll go with that one.

Well Merlin, thank you so much for your time, and thank you very much for watching, and I'll see you again in the next episode. Thanks Merlin. 

No worries, man.

The Apex Team

The Apex Team

The Apex Editorial Team @Custodian: Archie Hill - Interviewer & Editor, Archie Hill Jeremy Hindle Charles Clegg - Editors, Archie Hill - Production, David Marcus - Transcription.