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Owain71

Some nice old 1970s & 1980s showroom pics...

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Matlock Ford, while being somewhat corporate now, is a good example of a long standing Ford dealer that's not changed *that* much. 

 

I'm sure there's another one somewhere in a village near the M6 in Staffs but I can't remember where or what it is for the life of me.

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These may have been posted on here before, but the famous Rootes/Peugeot building in Maidstone is one that holds sentiment for me. I was born and raised in the Maidstone area and remember the dealership well as a youngster. It was also the supplying dealer of my 106 in 1995 so it is entirely possible that I would have admired the car on the forecourt as a young lad as I often used to on trips into town with my parents. 

 

It started out of course as a Rootes group main agent. This was taken in 1953 I believe. William Rootes actually started his motorcycle business about 15 miles away in a village called Hawkhurst which was the next village along to the one I actually grew up in.

 

Rootes.19531.jpg

 

Someone with more expertise on Rootes shite than me will probably be able to date this one better but I would have said mid 70's?

 

rootes-maidstone.jpg

 

 

 

With the demise of Rootes it eventually became a Peugeot agent as Rootes Peugeot. Today the building still stands and looks like this, although sadly its now a branch of Robins & Day Peugeot and the Rootes signage was replaced a few years ago. 

 

20115971472_bfc14ce6a6_b.jpg

 

Sadly I can't find any 80's or 90's shots of the place as I remember it best but I did stumble on this promo video from 1997 on Youtube. Which is worth a watch for 106 pervs.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyVcFejWPwc

 

The building itself is huge and is a pretty well known example of art-deco and I have a feeling it might be listed. Robins & Day are doing well out of the site by all accounts so I don't think it'll be going anywhere soon. If anyone does have any photos of this place from 1980-2000 I would love to see them.

 

6446777693_8aab58ddb0_b.jpg

 

EDIT: It turns out the building is listed, and there is a nice write-up on its history on the Historic England website which can be found here if anyone is interested. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1393579

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Matlock Ford, while being somewhat corporate now, is a good example of a long standing Ford dealer that's not changed *that* much. 

 

 

 

 

The one on the corner? They do car and van hire as well, good little garage is that.

 

Another is Misterton Garage in........Misterton, Crewkerne Zummerzet. It's been a tiny Ford dealer since around 1975 and is still going largely unchanged although it's only a Ford service centre now. I lived there and recall their Y reg Sierra L demonstrator in Cardinal red.

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I'll need to try and get some pics as there's a few former car showrooms/dealerships in this area still standing largely unchanged from 1980s/90s but now being used for other uses and they just dont like as interesting without dealer signage and a row of brand new and nearly new chod outside for sale despite the buildings being almost identical to their car selling days.

 

Fuck car manufacturers and their need to close 4 smaller dealers in 4 neighbouring towns and replace them all with one massive glass and silver clad dealership in a nearby retail park or right off motorway junctions. Or their need to have dealers selling off interesting long standing outright freehold owned sites to build big nondescript showrooms on "motor miles" and motor dealership "designated areas" where the whole road is now rows of similar looking sites where the service manager doesnt wear an overcoat, the mechanics arent filthy with oil and grease and the salesmen arent car enthusiasts but former mobile phone and widescreen telly and washing machine retailer staff who now nothing about what size engine is fitted to a 2013 Focus Ecoboost or the difference in spec between a Zetec and a Titanium, the parts guys always get the part wrong even when shown the part you need or given a part number and everything has to be ordered as they keep hardly any stock of parts.

 

I'm looking at you Vauxhall for binning Lylesland Garage in Paisley, Ferguson of Renfrew, County Motor Garage in Johnstone with an Arnold Clark at Linwood Retail Park.

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Cars are becoming ever more impersonal, and so is the buying process.

 

In the early 1990's Alfa Romeo GB - that bastion of sound common sense and business acumen - decided to terminate around 20 old and well respected dealerships and replace them with 4 glass palaces run by none other than Octav Botnar. The AFG dealerships lasted about a year when it all erupted in scandal.

 

Then they were gone, thus halving the dealer network at a stroke.

 

My local Al;fa dealer is combined with a Fiat place that is on small car dealer park with Volvo, Suzuki and others that was owned by one group but who have now sold out to Stoneacre (nice name, like it) who have literally nailed some hastily made STONEACRE signs over the old ones just to instill that extra bit of confidence.

 

 

Meanwhile in Sheffield, Sytners are preparing to launch the biggest BMW dealership in Europe, a vast glass palace with an indoor used car area, a veritable shrine to the blue and white propellor. Mightily impressive it is. Expect to find professionalism there - they really don't piss about.

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Cars are becoming ever more impersonal, and so is the buying process.

 

In the early 1990's Alfa Romeo GB - that bastion of sound common sense and business acumen - decided to terminate around 20 old and well respected dealerships and replace them with 4 glass palaces run by none other than Octav Botnar. The AFG dealerships lasted about a year when it all erupted in scandal.

 

Then they were gone, thus halving the dealer network at a stroke.

 

My local Al;fa dealer is combined with a Fiat place that is on small car dealer park with Volvo, Suzuki and others that was owned by one group but who have now sold out to Stoneacre (nice name, like it) who have literally nailed some hastily made STONEACRE signs over the old ones just to instill that extra bit of confidence.

 

 

Meanwhile in Sheffield, Sytners are preparing to launch the biggest BMW dealership in Europe, a vast glass palace with an indoor used car area, a veritable shrine to the blue and white propellor. Mightily impressive it is. Expect to find professionalism there - they really don't piss about.

The AFG Nissan places that took on Alfa Romeo around here all got sold to Caledonia who then got taken over by Reg Vardy and later Arnold Clark and were still going until about 10 years ago when they rationalised the dealer network and got rid of a lot of places.

 

I don't think after the early 90s there was a single Alfa dealer that wasn't also a Fiat dealer in the sense that not all Fiat dealers were Alfa dealers but all Alfa dealers were Fiat dealers too. Then they realised their mistake and sacked off most of the network, most of which was Arnold Clark up here, because they also realised the couldn't sell "premium" cars alongside Fiats.

 

Trouble is they then lost all their dealers and took on Arnold Clark again and also only have 3 dealers the whole of Scotland.

 

Guessing the Stoneacre place you mention is Autoworld Chesterfield? Looks like a mismatch of brands type place.

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Guessing the Stoneacre place you mention is Autoworld Chesterfield? Looks like a mismatch of brands type place.

 

 

 

It is indeed. I went in the Volvo corner (that's all it is) to enquire about parts. Some suited 24 year old life expert looked up and asked 'can I help you pal?'

 

Pal?

PAL??

 

Who the fuck do you think you're talking to? Anybody who said that in a German glass palace would be taken out and shot for less. the Audi place in Sheff is superb. Immaculately laid out with all the colourful cars in the showroom, well groomed staff and a lady who asks who you need top see, and would you like a cup of coffee? Sytners are the same, utterly professional but quite charming with it.

 

That's why Audi and BMW sell 3/4 times as many cars as Volvo. The clowns who run UK Volvo/Alfa etc just don't get it.

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Such a shame I can't find a picture of it, but I remember very clearly visiting a Ford dealer in the Southampton docks area in the mid-late 1990's to buy a couple of gaskets for a friends car I was doing some repairs on.  I've never really "done" Fords, so it was a bit of a new experience.

 

or an old one... the dealership was completely untouched since about 1972, with multiple levels inside and cars displayed in their own little area, with a glass cabinet behind them full of dealer options and "add ons" you could buy branded "Ford".  Some of them had been there for years too.. I can't imagine seeing a set of jump leads on sale in a dealership these days.  Although the cars on display were late Escort mk6's and earlyish Mondeos, the showroom looked like it should have a brown Capri and a Mk2 escort in it.  Even 90's chod looked much too modern.

 

The building still had it's suspended ceiling with white-and-black styrofoam-looking tiles in it, and some very odd colour walls in places.  The staff were genuinely very helpful and friendly, got me the exact parts I needed, a rather oily mechanic came out and offered me a little assistance and advice on the job I needed to do (non-condecendingly too.. genuinely helpful chap) and I left with a much-enhanced view of Ford in general.

 

No idea if it's still there.  I desperately hope so.  With no alterations to the building whatsoever.  Just a new fiesta and a new mondeo where the Capri and Mk2 scrote should be.

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It is indeed. I went in the Volvo corner (that's all it is) to enquire about parts. Some suited 24 year old life expert looked up and asked 'can I help you pal?'

 

Pal?

PAL??

 

Who the fuck do you think you're talking to? Anybody who said that in a German glass palace would be taken out and shot for less. the Audi place in Sheff is superb. Immaculately laid out with all the colourful cars in the showroom, well groomed staff and a lady who asks who you need top see, and would you like a cup of coffee? Sytners are the same, utterly professional but quite charming with it.

 

That's why Audi and BMW sell 3/4 times as many cars as Volvo. The clowns who run UK Volvo/Alfa etc just don't get it.

Hmmm, I kinda get what you're saying, but similarly I hate places like the local VW emporium and the Audi glass palace at Braehead, I like the friendly, chatty laid back attitude not the clinical robotic employees they have turned people into, the sorts of places where when you want parts the reception woman directs you to the service and parts counter and the service people then phone through to the parts department and a guy comes out and sits at a table in the waiting area with you and writes down what you need, fucks off to the other end of the building to the parts department and reappears 20mins later, no more the parts guy showing you the exploded parts diagram on the screen to ensure it's the right part, or the parts department being literally behind the parts reception desk in the showroom so he's not gone for ages, no more comparing the part you take in to the part onscreen or to one they have in stock, nope because they also keep zilch in stock, everything's 2 days minimum order time. Largely why I use TPS now, computers in reception, print off diagrams to see if it's the right part or where it goes, usually stuff in stock and if not next day delivery. And an Indy VAG specialist, I can talk directly with the mechanic, have a laugh, get advice, its friendly, it's helpful, not some clueless 20yr old girl in a cheap trouser suit who knows nothing about cars and just repeats the technician report without being able to understand it.

 

With Audi it's like you go in for an "appointment" with a specific service advisor and not just whoever is free to deal with you, everything goes through this one person and if they aren't available you need to wait on a call back.

 

Vauxhall parts departments are the best for being helpful, friendly, useful and also their service reception setups are better, 4 advisors side by side, whoever is first off the phone or dealing with a customer attends to you.

 

The worst is main dealers with offsite parts departments or ones where the parts is hidden round the back out of sight like the don't want anyone to know it's there, almost like the parts retail customers are a poor relation because they aren't spending on a new or used car or getting stiffed for a service, tyres and brakes so we aren't privy to the nice tiled showroom with uplighters, fancy furniture and all the fittings and the free tea and biscuits.

 

Wankers still haven't Sussed that treating folk well when they are spending £50 on a part will hugely increase their chances of that customer spending £15k on a new car and not go elsewhere, get treated like shit when giving a dealer custom for a few quid you think why would I give them all my hard earned or commit to a PCP plan with you if you can't even be helpful with a replacement part, sod buying a car from you because it'll be a nightmare, especially when it comes to servicing and repairs.

 

I know it's not representative of all Sytner places but my dealings with them had left a sour taste at Porsche Centre Glasgow, we had a guy who'd been in an accident and we provided him a car, his own car was an 8/9 year old 05 plate X5, he wouldn't take an XC60, XC90, Range Rover, Q5, Q7 or Mercedes ML, it had to be another X5 for a week long repair, and because it was a Sytner contract we had which stated if the punter dug their heels and wanted marque for marque that's what we must provide we had to move a car to Glasgow from Haydock for him, went in to deliver car and asked at reception saying i had a car to drop for a client but needed to meet them and see ID, turns out he was a valeter at the dealership and his own X5 even pre accident condition was scabby, but he went over our car in minute detail, not because he was worried about being stiffed for existing damage when he handed the car back but because he expected an 18month old rental car to be flawless like a new car, pointing out tiny stone chips and all sorts.

 

We then went to pick car back up, into reception to ask for the guy, told to take a seat but "don't touch the tea or biscuits" and then drew their eyes off us the whole time like we weren't good enough and like we were shit they had scraped off their shoe.

 

Only nice touch is getting a car serviced there they leave a bottle of Porsche Centre Glasgow branded water and a small metal tin of mints in the car, suppose they can do that when they charge £400 for little more then an oil change on a diesel Cayenne.

 

The worst are Mercedes though, genuinely good set up for older car parts but a major rigmarole dropping off and picking up cars from routine servicing.

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