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An interview with Mike Rogers of J & M Classics

This interview took place late in 2007 with Mike Rogers from J & M Classics.  It is of general interest and so it is reproduced here.

Who and what is J&M Classics?  Mike Rogers of J & M Classics is a ‘one man band’.  A small cottage industry making high quality selective models covering pre war to 1968.

What brought you to start modeling?  It all started as a hobby from childhood.  Mikes father had a radio shop in Guildford, and later added some models.  Modelling was becoming popular at that time (mid 40’s) and Mike started, and was particularly interested in, model aeroplanes.  He went to boarding school at around the age of 8 and started a model club there.  Mike had a successful building business (houses not models!) but in later years wanted something which would keep his interest into retirement and decided to go into model making.  He started work with Top Marques.  Max Kernick of Top Marques decided to rationalise their production to concentrate on Rolls-Royce models and Mike purchased the rights to produce the beautiful Alvis models previously marketed by Top Marques.  The range included several 3 litre models, the TC21 Grey Lady and the Charlesworth Speed 25.  Mike then started making new models, starting with the TA14.  Subsequent models have been made by Mike using many of the techniques learnt with Top Marques, although obviously techniques have been modified over the years.  When Mike took over the Alvis range from Max he called it J & M Classics because a girl he knew at the time was called Jean and the name seemed to flow and sounded right.  There was a gradual hand over to Mike until it became a full time occupation. 

Even your packaging is better than others, why?  Both Mike and Max Kernick believe that the poor packaging used by some companies is unprofessional.  The packaging is important to customers who often store part of their collection while displaying other parts.  At the end of the day it is both the look and presentation of the model that sells them.  Good packaging gives protection to the models and allows us to ship them with confidence throughout the World.

How do you select which models you are going to produce?  Mike generally looks for something that has not been done before (or has only been done as a kit) – This is often not possible, but is a good principle to follow.  It is important to pick something good to look at and that catches the eye.  (You have to believe in the product to be comfortable selling it).  A good range of books and discussions with owners and club members also helps greatly.  Sometimes it can be a coincidence which leads to a new model.  Mike started making the Healey collection as a result of a suggestion from a supplier in Australia, who saw our Alvis Duncan and said did we know there was a Healey Duncan – and were we interested in making it.  Having bought some books and researched the Healey range and discussed it with various owners and club members he decided it was a good range to make models of.  He then got photographs and details from an owner in Australia (who had a Healey Duncan) and after discussing it with various other owners and getting details and photographs of their cars started the Healey Collection.  The colours of the models in the range are from cars he has seen, or had photographs of.

Do you own or have you owned older cars? Which ones? Where did your interest in older cars develop? Mike has had a large number of old Fords, Vauxhalls, Austin cars etc.  Mostly of older cars – late 30’s and mid 40’s.  Often mainly out of necessity, funds being limited, but Mike also used to car deal in his earlier years – he got cars from a scrap yard and did them up and sold them.

Does your family support your interest in older cars? Any special stories? Mike’s son in law paints many of the dash boards for his models.  His daughter is very supportive.  The family also helps to keep the paper work up to date and like the fact that Mike has an ‘out of the ordinary’ interest.

Do you have plans to produce other Healey’s? Which ones?  The next one planned is a Healey Woody.  Then a year later a Healey Duncan.  The idea is to produce a collection of Healey’s – 6 or 7 cars would be lovely.  You can see more detail of the future Healey models on the Future Models pages of the web site.

Are there any interesting anecdotes about you or members of the company that you wish to tell?  There have been no real disasters – In the early years Mike was guided by Max Kernick of Top Marques (now Autotorque) who is widely considered to be one of best model builders in the industry.  Mike has expanded the model range since then but by careful choice of the cars to model it has been disaster free.

What else do you feel would be important to include?  One of the factors we are always very careful with at the design stage is to make sure that our models can all be repaired, provided the body has not been crushed.  We do not use rivets, so if ‘junior’ does get hold of a model and damages it then it can normally be successfully put back together again.

 

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