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Sytner’s story dates back to Nottingham in 1968 when brothers Frank and Alan Sytner opened their first used car dealership. Prior to this Alan was the founder of Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club, but became available for new ventures when his club was closed-down due to failing to meet legal requirements for ventilation.
They began selling BMWs and within two years, they had already gained the BMW franchise for Nottingham. It was at this time in the early 70s that Frank embarked upon his motorsport career which saw him winning two British Touring Car championships. He began racing in the single-seater Formula Ford, however as a BWM dealer, naturally, he later start racing in one too, in the front-engined Clubmans as also left Tom Walkinshaw’s TWR team for the BWM team. He started competing in Touring Cars in the 80s and won the BTCC title in 1988 in a BMW M3 as well as winning his class in 1990. His final season was in 1991 when he retired from the sport in order to focus more on the Sytner business. Still with a passion for racing, he did however continue to dabble in classic car racing.
Alan and Frank were operating in Nottingham area, but expansion was on the horizon with Frank’s time and energy freed up to concentrate on new business ventures. Sytner acquired BMW dealerships in Leister as well as in Sheffield in 1993. It was soon after in 1995, that Sytner began branching out after years of working exclusively with BMW. Their acquisitions of franchises in Bristol, Leeds and Loughborough brought the prestigious marques Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Ferrari into the mix.
The brothers did not stop there, just one year later, Land Rover, Jeep and Porsche dealerships were opened in Reading and Stockport in 1996. With dealership numbers into the double figures and Laurence Vaughan as CEO, they floated on the UK stock market in 1997 as Sytner Group PLC.
Just over a decade since Frank retired from behind the wheel of Touring Cars racing career, Sytner had become one of the biggest and most successful dealership groups in the United Kingdom. It was around this same time when fellow racing driver, Roger Penske was looking to expand Penske Automotive Group’s operations into Europe. Their shared interests brought the two great forces together with a $135 million deal in 2002. A newly appointed CEO Gerard Nieuwenhuys continued the expansion in 2003, while Laurence Vaughan became chairman.
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