The manager of a car dealership that has been a landmark of a Buckinghamshire town for nearly 100 years says it owes its longevity to loyal customers and a ‘stewardship’ role in the community.

Platts of Marlow, a car dealership and maintenance provider on West Street and Oxford Road, has long been a mainstay in the town amid a fluctuating High Street and innovations within and beyond the motoring industry.

Founded by Reg Platt in the 1920s, the family business – which is now run by Jim Platt, 89, who still works five-and-a-half days a week – initially made its name carrying out bodywork on wooden carts, before shifting to cars as ownership became increasingly more common throughout the twentieth century.

Ahead of ringing in its 100th year in business in 2025, Jim and co christened a brand-new car wash at Platts’ Oxford Road centre this week, a cutting-edge model that general manager Jon Jones said would provide customers with the most thorough clean yet.

Jon – who is not related to the Platts by blood but, after more than 30 years at the dealership, feels as good as family – stressed the valued place in the community the business continues to hold, aided by the consistently reciprocal relationship between employees and patrons.

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“We pride ourselves on the fact that – unlike some big companies – you can speak to people here quickly because there aren’t many tiers of management. I’ve been doing this since I left school, and you naturally develop good relationships with people on a long-term basis.

“We’re now serving the grandchildren of the people we sold cars to years ago. And it’s a silly thing but people will give directions and say, ‘Then you go left at Platts’. It’s a landmark, which isn’t surprising – 100 years is a long time!”

Despite intentionally setting themselves apart from “gin palace” dealerships, Jim has always been keen to stay ahead of the curve, Jon said, and as soon as electric vehicles began spiking in popularity, he was quick to install two charging points at the car wash site.

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The Platts team also try to keep costs down for their loyal customer base “wherever we can” and the 89-year-old owner has helped staff find rental properties in the area and pass their driving tests using dealership models – all part of their “stewardship” role in Marlow.

“We actually draw our own water using a machine at the back of the site, after Jim managed to get it under license years ago. It feels very independent in that respect, and because staff tend to stay a long time, it does feel like working with family.

“The car wash is, I think, only the third model we’ve had in the near-century we’ve been here, so it was great to get Jim and his wife Audrey, with her posh frock on, down for the ribbon cutting.

"He wanted to keep it quite gentle and not make a fuss, but he was proud. We’ve always been here, and we still are!”