From humble beginnings in Looe and Plymouth back in 1946,Vospers is now ranked as one of the top 50 motor dealer groups in the United Kingdom. Recognised by manufacturers with over 20 awards for outstanding customer service, and specialists in Motability, Vospers is a great example of a thriving family-run local business.
Current chairman Peter Vosper joined the company in 1966 and took over just five years later following the sudden death of his father, the original founder of the business. A lot has changed over the decades that followed. Expansion across Devon and Cornwall, the addition of new manufacturers to the company portfolio – most recently SEAT in Plymouth, to mention a few. Today the Vospers Group employs over 700 people across 20 separate sites, offering vehicle sales and aftercare to its customers throughout Devon and Cornwall.
One fundamental change the business has seen over the years is with the vehicles themselves. There have been significant advancements in terms of reliability, technology and arguably most importantly, safety. For example in 1985 ABS was installed on the luxury Ford Scorpio, an addition that is now found on all makes and models.
In terms of the make-up of the vehicle, far more of the componentry is now electronically controlled and generally more technologically advanced. All of which makes for a far higher efficiency and a more refined and easy drive. Vehicles are now far lower emitting and electric cars are now becoming more prevalent. In fact, both Peter Vosper and son Nick, who was appointed MD in 2011, drive electric cars – the Nissan Leaf, a car which I reviewed in issue 90.
To see quite how much things have changed, I have been reviewing a Ford Fiesta mk2 (part of my own collection), purchased new from Truro Vospers nearly 30 years ago, with a brand new Fiesta Zetec. Interestingly, back in 1986 the Ford Fiesta Mk2 was the UK’s second bestselling car (behind the Ford Escort at #1) and now in 2016 the Fiesta is the UK’s bestseller.
The question is; what makes the Fiesta, in its 40th year of production, remain such a popular car? Often throughout a succession of models, manufacturers slip off the mark and produce a poorer version which can end up in tainting the brand of that model and may even result in irreversible damage and ditching of the brand. This hasn’t happened with the Fiesta, it’s also been good and achieves its brief perfectly – therefore the Fiesta brand has only strengthened.
Stepping into the mk2 Fiesta Festival and the first thing that strikes you, unsurprisingly, is how retro it feels reflecting 1980’s styling – this continues through to the overall feel of the car. Pull out the manual choke, turn the key and she fires into life with a distinctive burble from the exhaust and glides along the road with little effort and for some reason I cannot stop smiling – it feels fun and certainly has a charm, though it’s hard to pinpoint what the factors are that have led to this. It still feels practical, refined and useable – despite its age you could chuck anyone the keys and start using it as a daily driver with nothing about it functionally that would inhibit this – you simply cannot fault it.
The same has to be said with the new fiesta which bears the same character and qualities – it’s just amazing how the character of the fiesta has remained so stable, it’s a total Goody Two-Shoes that has at no point gone off the rails or even shown a hint of temptation to be led astray since production started in 1976 with the mk1 – practical, conscientious and trustworthy. Of course, the new Fiesta has moved on colossally according with the times, especially in terms of safety, refinement, equipment and green credentials. Yet despite this, I get the feeling that the general brief for the Fiesta’s has remained virtually the same over the years.
Distinguishing modern cars in all aspects can be extremely difficult; put bluntly many feel very samey and tick similar boxes. However, equally most modern cars still have their faults in one way or another. I can’t find fault with the Fiesta, old or new, and would gladly recommend it to anyone. This is the overriding point that ultimately points towards why it is (and has been) such a huge success. It’s a best seller for all the right reasons.