A Brief History of Underwoods

Gerry Wiggins, Managing Director was quick to develop opportunities presented by the motor trade and is both passionate and dedicated to expanding the business and securing the long-term future of the company.

In 1981 Underwoods began trading in the village location of Tiptree on Church Road. This prominent site enjoyed considerable success selling and servicing Vauxhall Cars to the local community and beyond, quickly gaining a reputation as a friendly and reliable garage offering a quality service and value for money. Customer relationships were developed here in these early days that still remain to this day.

In 1995 Underwoods expands with the purchase of a Ford Dealership on Mersea Island. After extensive alterations to the Mersea dealership this site was granted in addition to Ford, authorised repairer status for Vauxhall. With a continued focus on customer service, we are as proud today as we were then, to present ourselves as Mersea Island’s local centre for high quality car sales and garage services.

In 1998 Underwoods arrived in Colchester with its biggest acquisition to date, the purchase of the former Cowies Vauxhall dealership on Scotts Corner, Ipswich Road. This prime location needed substantial investment to meet the exacting standards set by other Underwoods sites. The two-year refurbishment programme transformed the outdated exterior and interior of the building into a Dealership to be proud of.

In 2001 Underwoods expanded to Clacton with the purchase of the former Carlton Garage on Old Street which as a prominent site was a move to cover a new part of Essex selling and servicing Vauxhall Cars to the local community and beyond. Clacton also provides authorised repair for Renault.

In 2004 further expansion with the purchase of Lancaster House adjacent to the Vauxhall Scotts Corner site on Ipswich Road. This again was a huge redevelopment project and after extensive building works was transformed into a dual franchise initially for Mazda and Skoda. Skoda still remains. 

In 2007 Underwoods acquired the Peugeot franchise based in Wimpole Road, Colchester. In 2008  Peugeot takes up residence in its new home at Lancaster House on Severalls Lane. Peugeot’s dynamic range includes the iconic 208, sporty RCZ and a range spacious people carriers. In addition to passenger vehicles the Peugeot commercial range is incorporated.

In 2008 Mazda relocates to Scotts Corner. Mazda came to greater prominence sharing the Scotts Corner dealership alongside Vauxhall facing the busy Ipswich Road. Mazda’s coverage in Colchester and the surrounding areas has gone from strength to strength since becoming part of the Underwoods family.

In 2010 Underwoods moves to Suffolk. Further expansion brings the Underwoods level of customer service to Suffolk with the acquisition of the Vauxhall Sudbury Dealership including the BP petrol forecourt and the opening of the new SPAR Supermarket. Underwoods Bodyshop services located in Sudbury proudly added their long list of authorised approved repairs for; Vauxhall, Peugeot, Skoda, Mazda, Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep.

In 2011 Commercial vehicle sales finds a new home. A dedicated new building was situated next to our Vauxhall dealership specifically for commercial vehicle sales. We have built our reputation on providing courteous, consistent and honest customer service and we truly believe this is why our customers have stayed with us over the years.

In 2013 Underwoods became a Vauxhall Evolution Trade Centre, carrying £360,000 of stock in order to successfully distribute to all Vauxhall parts users and authorised repairs centres in the area. This extended to an increase in our deliver fleet providing five vans delivering to the trade twice a day, five times a week.

In 2014 the Kia franchise joins the Underwoods family, initially sharing the Scotts Corner showroom with Mazda and Vauxhall. The Korean manufacturer have created an extensive range of high quality vehicles including the award winning and hugely successful Sportage SUV, Picanto city car and electric/hybrid Soul and Optima.

In 2015 a new Kia and Mazda showroom opens on Auto Way alongside Vauxhall’s Scotts Corner dealership. This new showroom provides both manufacturers with a bright and open dealership, representing their superb product in a more spacious and inviting environment. This move also allowed Vauxhall to spread out and receive a full interior refurbishment and expand its model display range and used car forecourt capacity.

In 2016 all Underwoods Vauxhall dealerships received an extensive programme of refurbishment. Our Clacton dealership in particular received a full exterior and interior make-over transforming into a modern and comfortable dealership.

In 2017 we extended our Skoda franchise to Suffolk with a new showroom alongside Vauxhall in Sudbury. Offering authorised repair and approved used cars, this dealership is focused on supporting the Suffolk market-town.

In 2018 Skoda moved to its new home, beside its previous site at the opposite end of Lancaster House. The move provided a much larger showroom for one of our most successful franchises, also creating much improved customer parking and increase in used Skoda forecourt capacity.

In 2020 we were awarded Ford Service Authorised Repairer status at our Clacton-on-Sea branch.

In 2023 Underwoods moved away from new car franchising to focus on providing quality used cars. Garages services for all makes and models continued with Authorised Repairer status for Vauxhall, Ford, Skoda and Kia in three locations in Clacton and Tiptree in Essex and Sudbury in Suffolk.

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