John Clark was born in Edinburgh in 1947.
He grew up close to the Edinburgh base of the Le Mans winning Ecurie Ecosse, making him familiar with famous drivers such as Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, plus Le Mans winners Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson.
At 17, John joined Ford on a management training scheme, later joining the Ford dealership, Meadowfield garage.
His ambition to develop his own business ideas drove him to work with the legendary Paddy Hopkirk accessory business, later moving to Sports Tune Distributors in Edinburgh.
John then joined with motorsport contemporary Willie Crawford, developing a business specialising in the sale of used sports cars, called Lothian Sports Cars.
Success with LSC brought expansion, moving to new premises in Meadowbank and acquiring franchises for Reliance Scimitar GTE and Lotus products. By 1970, Aston Martin had also been added.
In 1972, Lothian Sports Cars opened in Aberdeen’s Broomhill Road, with John becoming sole owner at this location.
With BMW’s franchise for Grampian on board, John Clark Specialist Cars opened its doors in 1977. With a small but dedicated workforce, John built the business up from selling just 6 new cars in the first year, to over 100 in the second, and 200 in the third.
In 1982, the business moved to a state of the art premises with separate body shop and PDI centre. At a similar time, noticing the demand in the market for small lifestyle 4x4 vehicles, a separate business was opened under the name of Tower Garage.
By 1986, John had begun his expansion out of Aberdeen with the acquisition of the BMW car and motorcycle franchises for Dundee and Tayside. This is also when the business started to develop its now long standing relationship with the Volkswagen Group, taking on both Volkswagen and Audi under the banner of Specialist Cars in the centre of Aberdeen.
In 1988, Mitsubishi and Suzuki were added, along with Skoda, operating out of a full services dealership in Cults, Aberdeen.
In 1994, expansion continued with the opening of the £1.5m Autoplex in Aberdeen, representing brands such as Volkswagen, Audi, Hyundai and Suzuki.
In 1998, John Clark returned to his routes by opening Pentland Land Rover in Edinburgh, just a short distance from where it had all began.
The years that followed were a period of consolidation with the focus on performance winning accolades, such as Automotive Managements Dealer Group of the Year. It was also an era of greater commitment to corporate social responsibility. A long term support for the Saving Sight Charity in Grampian, John Clark also redoubled his support for the Princes Trust, the PSYBT, the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, and joining the board of Aberdeen VSA.
The groups next five year plan started in 2001 with the new £1m Volkswagen dealership in Kirkcaldyand a year later, a flagship £2.2m BMW, MINI and motorcycle centre in Aberdeen. That same year, John’s achievements were recognised as he won runner up in Ernest Young’s Scottish Business Entrepreneur awards.
In 2003, in partnership with Volkswagen, £3m was invested in Specialist Cars new Aberdeen complex, which was at the time the largest VW retail centre in Europe.
The following year, the Group opened a new Volkswagen LCV centre in Aberdeen.
In 2005 the group made a further £4m investment in its flagship Audi dealership in Aberdeen, creating one of the largest Audi new and used centres in the UK.
In 2007 further investment with Audi saw a new dealership and body shop open in Dundee. Further developments with SEAT in Aberdeen saw the Group representing the complete range of the Volkswagen Groups mainstream brands.
In 2007 the group was proud to recognise 26 members of staff who had amassed over 600 years of service between them. As the long serving employees were recognised, a new chapter was to begin. Chris Clark returned to play a strategic part in the development of the family business.
2008 saw the acquisition of Clark Commercials – a well established specialist Van and Commercial Vehicle business in Aberdeen.
In 2010 the Group expanded its representation of the Skoda brand by taking on Skoda in Dundee, and later acquiring the Thomson & Potter Skoda business in Burrelton in Perth.
Also in 2010, the Group recorded a turnover of £281 million with a turnover of £309 million recorded in 2011.
2011 also saw the Group acquiring the whole of the Edinburgh territory for Land Rover with the commitment to develop a new flagship site for the franchise in the City, which was delivered in January 2012.
2012 and beyond sees further developments occurring including the relocation of the Skoda and Seat businesses in Aberdeen to an all new purpose built facility. The Group has also taken on the Nissan franchise in Aberdeen and open the doors of this business in early September.