Continental Cars – A Lesson in History and Service

The world was a very different place 50 years ago. Wilson and Johnson watched over the UK and the US, while we watched Evel Knievel jump 16 cars in a row (and then fail to jump the fountains at Caesar’s). Bond ‘Only Lived Twice’, The Beatles still topped the charts (and released Sgt Pepper’s) and the first issue of Rolling Stone magazine was released. Technology was on the move too; there was the world’s first heart transplant operation, the first ATM machine gave out cash in London, Concorde was unveiled and the Boeing 737 took to the skies.

Here in New Zealand, Keith Holyoake was prime minister and the population was about 2.7 million. Currency was decimalised (at a rate of $2 to a pound) and inflation was at 5.8 percent. C’mon, Town and Around, In Your Garden and Lost in Space were on TV, while The Bee Gees, The Monkees and Mr Lee Grant topped the charts. In motorsport, Denny Hulme won the F1 Championship and in Newmarket, Tim Bailey opened the doors to Continental Cars.

1967 – It all started with one man and his tool box

The Continental Cars’ journey started in 1967 when a young Tim Bailey arrived at small workshop premises, behind an disused Mobil petrol station at 40 Great South Road, Newmarket. As one of the three first A-grade technicians in New Zealand, and with Service Manager experience at Town and Country Cars behind him, he started the company with nothing more than £600, a toolbox, an old Morris Minor van and a dream.

From the outset, the difference was Service. ‘People person’ Tim Bailey was ultimately a car guy; his personal garage boasted some stunning Italian beauties (i.e. a 1966 Ferrari 365SWB and a 1962 Alfa Spyder) and, when not under the bonnet of a car, he was more than at home behind the wheel. His racing career had him on the Rally circuit and the racetrack, lined up against the who’s who of NZ racing legends (Hulme, McLaren and Amon), driving everything from Fiat and Ferrari to an Alfa and the Porsche 911T.
Tim’s passion was servicing European (Continental) cars, and so it seemed inevitable that Continental Cars was born. Continental Cars was initially a sales and service centre for Fiat (Bambinos). However, it wasn’t long before things began to grow.

1973 – Ferrari

An integral part of Continental Cars. In the news – The World Trade Centre (NYC) becomes the tallest building in the World, the Sydney Opera house opens, NZ population hits 3 million and ‘Fred Dagg’ was born.

With Tim’s penchant for luxurious and sporty Italian cars, there was little doubt the Prancing Horse brand would at some point come into the Continental Cars stable and it was actually a case of sooner rather than later. The first car they sold was a Ferrari Dino 246 GT. Since then, Continental Cars (the only Ferrari dealer in New Zealand) has introduced so many customers to the brand that New Zealand has developed to be one of the highest achievers in Ferrari sales (and collectors) per capita in the world, especially in the top-end models.

1974 – Porsche

In the news – Isabela Peron (Evita) becomes president of Argentina, West Germany wins the World Cup and the New Zealand Cricket team beats Australia for the first time.

Continuing with the racing theme, motorsport marque Porsche was the next European vehicle brand to be added to the group. Porsche had already established itself as a powerful and desirable brand and the iconic (and timeless) look of the 911 slotted in perfectly.

1975 – Volkswagen

In the news – Margaret Thatcher becomes leader of the British Conservative party, Jaws hits the big screen (while Betamax and VHS hit the TV) and NZ’s second TV channel starts broadcasting.
With one legendary German brand safely ensconced into the Continental Cars’ family, another was quick to follow – Volkswagen. The likes of the Beetle, the Golf, the Combi and the Polo all became accessible to Kiwis.

1999 – Volkswagen Piazza Showroom

In the news – With the turn of the century looming, the Y2K bug was the talk of the year.

Continental Cars was the first dealership in the southern hemisphere to provide a factory-designed and sanctioned Volkswagen “Piazza” showroom.

1999 – Sime Darby Motor Group

Sime Darby Motor Group’s involvement began with the acquisition of the company. Over the following years, Sime Darby Motor Group invested heavily in new facilities that allowed the marques that Continental Cars represented to expand into purpose-built dealerships in Newmarket.

Sime Darby began in 1910 when Scotsman William Middleton Sime and Englishman Henry Darby teamed up to form a company to manage a rubber estate in Malacca. From these modest colonial beginnings, Sime Darby has grown into one of south-east Asia’s leading conglomerates. The Sime Darby Group now employs more than 120,000 people in approximately 25 countries. The Sime Darby Group parent company and head office is located in Kuala Lumpur.

2001 – Continental Cars Audi officially opened by the Prime Minister

In the news – September 11: the Twin Towers attack and Euro currency begins. It would be fair to say that Audi has become a significant marque for Continental Cars. Continental Cars Audi is housed in the world-class Audi hangar, which was officially opened by the prime minister in October 2001. The dealership is one of the largest such facilities in Australasia, and is situated on the original site the company first occupied back in 1967.

2002 – Continental Cars Porsche Centre

In the news – US and Russia agree a nuclear arms deal, Serena beats Venus at Wimbledon and LOTR The Twin Towers is released.

The construction of the Porsche Centre at 40 Great South Road in early 2002 took the brand representation to a new level: a dedicated facility, sales and service team, and an environment where passionate Porsche people could congregate.

2003 – Volkswagen Showroom Extension

In the news – US Space shuttle crash, Saddam Hussein captured, NZ population hits 4 million and LOTR The Return of the King premieres in Wellington.

Continental Cars adds the neighbouring site to the Volkswagen dealership, to enlarge the area for used and commercial vehicles, as well as extending and enhancing the main showroom.

2016 – Ferrari Flagship store opens in Newmarket

In the news – Brexit and Trump, Parker claims WBO and the ABs win a record 18 straight games.
Continental Cars Ferrari opens its impressive new showroom in an event that befits the world’s most desirable car brand. Strategically positioned at the start of Newmarket’s road of prestigious vehicle dealerships, the Ferrari showroom stands out as a new mecca for Ferrari owners and enthusiasts alike.

2017 – Jerry Clayton BMW rebrands to Continental Cars BMW

In the news – Trump takes office and acts on his election promises. Doomsday clock moves forward 30 seconds, Williams sisters drop out of the ASB tennis and Federer wins in Melbourne.
Jerry Clayton BMW has been an authorised BMW dealer since 1989. Having sold and/or serviced more than 100,000 BMW vehicles over the years, the dealership’s customer care is held in high regard, making Jerry Clayton BMW a natural addition to the Continental Cars brand.

The world has changed a lot in the past 50 years, yet from its humble beginnings of servicing and selling used Fiat Bambinas, to the new multimillion-dollar showroom Ferrari facility in Newmarket, Continental Cars remains a leader in the automotive industry. It continues to set new benchmarks in facilities, events and customer service, consistently overachieving and exceeding expectations in all facets of the motor industry. We are already looking forward to the next 50 years.