British Car Auctions

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Vehicle Remarketing and logistics
Industry Automotive
Founded 1946
Founder David Wickins
Headquarters Farnham, England
Key people
Avril Palmer-Baunack (Executive Chairman)
Spencer Lock (UK MD)
Paul Bradbury (European MD)
Products Physical and Online Vehicle Auctions
Owner Haversham Holdings Plc
Number of employees
Website BCA UK

BCA Europe (British Car Auctions) is the largest vehicle remarketing business in Europe, with an annual turnover in excess of £4 billion.[1]


In 1946 Royal Navy officer David Wickins decided to sell his Riley Lynx tourer. Placing an advert in the local newspaper, he offered to sell the car to the first person who turned up at his mothers house in Farnham, Surrey with £200. Arriving home late, he found a crowd of eager buyers, and so auctioned the car off for £420.[2] Edward Dyson also founded BCA he was the son of Frank Dyson of Dyson's Motor Auctions; Frank died young and Edward was taken out of school to run the business – for which he proved to have an enormous talent.

Dyson's Motor Auctions outgrew the Longroyd Bridge premises and then those on St Andrew's Road, and expanded into BCA – British Car Auctions, with spanking new premises floating on the swampy site of the old World War One poison gas factory at Clifton, right beside the then-under-construction M62.

Wickins then rented a farmer's field at Frimley Bridges, now under junction 4 of the M3 motorway, and set up his first public auction. The 14 cars auctioned sold for a total of £8,250. Wickins and one of his brothers immediately founded Southern Counties Car Auctions Ltd, which after exiting the Royal Navy shortly afterwards he expanded across the UK by selling surplus ex-British Army and Royal Air Force vehicles for the Ministry of Defence.[2]

Renamed "British Car Auctions", Wickins then expanded the company across Europe and the United States through acquisition. This included the purchase of the car auctions division of British conglomerate Hawley Goodall, owned by Michael Ashcroft. This proved to be the start of a lifelong friendship between Wickins and Ashcroft, and through his Bermuda and Belize based holdings in various banks, Ashcroft would finance a number of Wickins later business ventures.[3] In 1987, Ashcroft bought out the existing shareholders of BCA via Hawley Goodall, and closed down Wickins treasured aviation division, which flew both Jet Ranger helicopters and King Airs turbo props.h

The company had head offices at the Frimley Bridges site, but later moved to purpose-built premises at Blackbushe Airport, Yateley to accommodate the now closed aviation division, which it still occupies. Employing 160 at its head office, Wickins built the company into the largest car auction business in the world before retiring in 1990.[2]

A near-scratch golfer, through this and his long association with the Conservative Party, Wickins met and befriended Denis Thatcher. Wickins later agreed to sponsor Mark Thatcher's motor racing activities in the 1980s through BCA. Denis later served on one of Wickins companies boards, while Mark served as chairman of Lotus Cars and later BCA in North America, which Wickins had led from near-bankruptcy to survival.[2]

By 1995, Belize-based Hawley Goodall had undertaken a reverse takeover of ADT Security Services, and renamed itself ADT. As a result of its focus on security systems, it sold the North American and European arms of BCA in separate deals. While the residual North American arm was broken-up and sold to trade buyers, the European arm was sold to a consortia of some 40 private investors, including Lord Ashcroft via his Belize-based investment company. In September 2006, the company was bought by the investment banking arm of private bank Samuel Montagu & Co., a division of HSBC.[4] In February 2010, BCA was acquired by the private equity investment firm Clayton, Dublier & Rice.[5]

UK and Global Operations[edit]

BCA Belle Vue in Manchester

British Car Auctions is Europe's largest used vehicle auction company, selling well over 1 million vehicles every year. It has 46 branches in 12 European countries: UK, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and Germany, and serves buyers from all countries through its auction centres or online. It sells on behalf of a wide range of vendors including:

  • Fleet owners and small companies
  • Leasing and finance companies
  • New and used car dealers
  • Car importers and manufacturers
  • Banks
  • Private individuals

The company does not generally own the stock it sells, but instead acts as a neutral intermediary between vendors and buyers, with the notable exception of stock purchased through We Buy Any Car which the company purchased in 2013. Auction centres can be found on the group website or on one of the country websites. It uses both physical auction centres and online selling to remarket vehicles from 46 centres in 12 countries across Europe.

BCA Logistics Limited (UK)[edit]

BCA Logistics is the UK’s number one provider of vehicle remarketing logistics services for the automotive sector.


  1. ^ "British Car Auctions Case Study" (PDF). 
  2. ^ a b c d "Auctions magnate began by selling just one old car". 13 February 2007. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  3. ^ Andy McSmith and Ben Laurance (16 January 2000). "Ashcroft's Lotus position". The Observer. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "Ashcroft in For BCA Cash Windfall". Sky News. 20 September 2006. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "BCA sold to US private equity company". AM Online. 4 January 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2013.