CDL 2024

Peter Waddell reveals how heartbreaking childhood motivated him for success but future remains unclear

  • Big Motoring World boss opens up about traumatic childhood
  • Peter Waddell reveals he was abused by his mother who also tried to kill him
  • He was in care system for most of his childhood and became homeless at 16
  • Industry titan revealed at Car Dealer Live conference how experiences motivated him
  • Waddell’s future at car supermarket group is still unclear

Time 7:00 am, March 11, 2024

Peter Waddell has candidly opened up on his difficult beginnings in life as his future at Big Motoring World hangs in the balance.

Car Dealer reported last Friday (Mar 8) that Waddell was taking a ‘leave of absence’ from the car supermarket group, amid rumours that he had been dismissed.

Waddell himself denied that it was true, despite an official statement from the company confirming it to Car Dealer later in the evening.

The story broke just a day after a refreshingly honest Waddell gave a fascinating keynote interview at our Car Dealer Live conference at the British Motor Museum.

Chatting on stage with Car Dealer founder James Baggott, he said his heartbreaking childhood had been a huge motivator in his career success.

He revealed he was abused by his mother until the age of four, before spending the majority of his childhood in the care system and becoming homeless at 16.

He said: ‘If you know who I am and where I came from, I didn’t have the best upbringing.

‘My mother beat me up and tried to kill me. I was in a children’s home since I was four. At the age of 16 I became a tramp and I begged for food.

‘I always used to dream “Why did my mother do this to me? Why am I different to anyone in this audience? Why couldn’t I have a caring mother or a caring father?”

‘When I was sitting on that bench, I wanted to be someone. I wanted to be someone that left society with something.’

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He added: ‘I wanted to have the biggest independent garage and that is how Big [Motoring World] got its name.

‘We will, if we are not already, be one of the biggest independent garages in the UK.’

During the same interview, Waddell revealed that he had already opened talks about acquiring 3,500 cars from Cazoo, after the retailer backed out of used car sales.

It is unclear whether the latest developments over Waddell’s future at the company will have any impact on a potential deal.

A statement from the used car supermarket group on Friday said the outspoken CEO was stepping away from his role for a ‘leave of absence’ and the executive chairman had taken over day-to-day operations.

Car Dealer sources said staff at the used car supermarket group were told that Waddell had been removed from his post.

An email is said to have been sent to staff by the board informing them of the immediate shake-up to the business. Sources say staff were told they shouldn’t speak about the changes.

A spokesperson for Big Motoring World told Car Dealer: ‘Peter Waddell has taken a leave of absence from Big Motoring World, with Laurence Vaughan, executive chairman, taking on his responsibilities on an interim basis.

‘Peter remains an employee and shareholder in the group.’

Car Dealer spoke to Waddell as he was driving away from the firm’s new head office on Friday afternoon and he said: ‘It’s a load of b******s.

‘I have just left the head office. I own 62% of the shares.

‘I am not taking a leave of absence – I am certainly not doing that.’

Waddell spoke on stage for 25 minutes about his business and how he planned to expand it. At no point did he give any indication that he was about to leave the used car dealership group.

You can watch our full interview with Waddell on the Car Dealer Live website with a streaming ticket that will allow you to replay all of the sessions.

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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