Event // Classics and Cake at Duke of London
Words and photography by Andrew Coles
It takes a special kind of person to look at an abandoned soap factory in West London and think… ‘yeah, we can work with that’. But that’s exactly what Merlin McCormack, aka Duke of London, did in 2019, and if the first of the season’s Classics and Cake events is anything to go by, it might just prove to be the hottest automotive spot of 2020.
It was an extra special day out for Sports Car Safari because we managed to borrow a 1992 Porsche 964 RS for the 250-kilometre round trip from Cambridgeshire, making the most of the literally-freezing cold but dry and sunny conditions in this Porsche legend.
But more on that later. Being able to properly enjoy such a toy on your own terms is a rare treat indeed, well deserving of its own post.
The development is dubbed ‘The Factory’ and is situated in Brentford, which itself is often called out to be the next Shoreditch. That’s to say that right now it’s a bit shit and you might not walk about late at night on your own, but it’ll likely be hipper-than-thou in five or ten years. And it’s early days projects like this one that form part of developer Ballymore’s ‘Brentford Project’, making these vast old spaces available to people who dare to dream big.
Duke of London is a classic car dealership that doubles as an event space with a bar and a monthly Sunday roast club, and the space is also home to the Brentford Cobbler, bacon butties from Le Swine, pizza from Santa Maria, coffee from Grind, and a fully functioning on-site pub called The Brewery Tap. Yes, an entire pub, building and all, on its own in the middle of the car park. In other words, the perfect destination for a Sunday drive.
Ambient temperature barely exceed two or three degrees all day but the sky was blue, the sun bestowed heavenly warmth and miraculously, the roads were unsalted, leading to a staggering turnout and one of the most diverse assortment of cars we’d seen in a very long time.
I think it was when we ended up in a traffic jam a few miles out consisting of a TWR Jaguar XJS and a Lancia Stratos stradale that we realised this would be a serious morning out.
And how’s this for niche – a one-off, coach built Maserati Quattroporte estate, badged ‘Cinquporte’ for its extra aperture. It just proves that if you have enough time, drive and money and really, really want something, you can make it happen.
Something tells us that the monthly Classics and Cake events are going to become somewhat of a summer staple for the UK arm of Sports Car Safari, and we suspect that we’ll be spending a rather lot of time here. A morning out with great cars, great people, great coffee and plenty of dogs – what’s not to love?