The Challenge Motor Company, Cheltenham’s independent Audi, VW, Skoda and Seat expert, is celebrating ten years in business.
This month, a decade ago, business partners Rob Connell and Ian Abbley, decided to go it alone, as Rob recalls. "We had both been working for Audi/VW main dealerships, in my case as the workshop manager, and having talked it over we decided we could do a better job while offering customers much better value for money. That was the business plan and we’ve stuck to it ever since."
At first the business was run from Prestbury Road, but when the opportunity came along to move to larger premises in King Alfred Way, off Hales Road, Rob and Ian leaped at the chance.
More room meant the business could expand and today Challenge Motor Co has a staff of nine, including four fully qualified mechanics and two apprentices. Among the staff are Rob’s wife Jo, who handles the admin and their son, Richard, who served his apprenticeship with the family firm.
Although they specialise in independent Audi, VW, Skoda and Seat, the company offers expert servicing of all makes and marquees and the state-of-the-art workshop is equipped with the most up to date diagnostic equipment. "We offer a fully equipped service bay at our garage to ensure our service and repair work carried out on your vehicle is done to the highest standards," said Rob.
"We complete a comprehensive checklist ensuring you have a full, accurate picture of any repair work that’s required." Besides general repair work, which is carried out using quality replacement parts supplied by TPS of Tewkesbury. Challenge also supplies and fits clutches, exhausts, batteries and tyres in addition to carrying out Engine Control Unit (ECU) tuning. Challenge Motors are air conditioning experts and all service components fitted automatically come with a 12 month guarantee.
When the time comes for your car or light commercial vehicle to have its MOT, Challenge Motors can do the job quickly and efficiently. "As an independent, family company we do our best to offer a much more personal service to customers than they would find at the main dealer,” says Rob. “We offer a pick up and collection service in and around Cheltenham, along with a free loan car so that customers stay mobile while their own car is with us."
Perhaps the best testimonial a business can have is that its customers come back. "We get lots of repeat business," Said Rob. "Our customers are the best ambassadors for Challenge Motors and the majority of our business comes by word of mouth recommendation. We’re proud of that."
A FORMER Cheltenham schoolboy has set off on the motoring challenge of a life-time. Hamish Baillie, who left Cheltenham College three years ago, is taking part in the Mongol Rally 2012 together with university pals Will Thompson and Jack Bilinski. Driving a Skoda Fabia 1.2 estate, the intrepid trio will travel 10,000 miles from Cheltenham to Ulan Bator in Mongolia.
They are hoping to raise £10,000, which will be split between Help For Heroes and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Hamish, 21, said "We all had the summer off and wanted to do something different. We thought this would be ideal. "It should be a real adventure and I’m sure we will see some amazing sights along the way."
Dubbing themselves Team El Nino, the Bristol University students set out from Hamish’s home, in St Stephan’s Road, and are currently en route to a checkpoint in the Czech Republic.
From there, they will continue into the unknown terrain of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan before going "off-road" into Mongolia.
Hamish added: "The roads pretty much disappear when we get to Mongolia and it will just be a case of finding a route wherever we can.
"But we are all experienced with cars and will be able to make any repairs, if needed, along the way.
"We have picked two fantastic causes to support, so we are hoping to raise as much money as we can. Any donations would be much appreciated."
Cars taking part in the rally, which has been running since 2004, traditionally have to be below a 1,300cc engine capacity.
Challenge Motors, in King Alfred Way, helped the team make final preparations to the vehicle.
Garage owner, Rob Connell, said: "We ran a full service on it and replaced the clutch, so the car is in good shape. "I have no idea how bad terrain will be, but we have given them some special equipment in case of emergencies." To find out more about the trip and to sponsor Team El Nino, go to www.elnino-mon-golrally.co.uk.