The premises of what was once the largest Austin Rover dealer in the south of France are about to be knocked down, three decades after the former dealership enjoyed huge sales success in one of Austin Rover’s best European markets.
Words: Nicolas Roughol Photography: Lionel Sentenac
According to Lionel Sentenac, an expert in ARG sales history in France, especially in the south of France, Austin Rover Méditerranée, was something of a local landmark, after it took on the ARG franchise in 1987. It became a specialist in the British cars after years of being a Renault dealership.
The dealer has been through a number of iterations over the years – when the Austin name disappeared from the French new car lists in 1990, three years after the UK, it was renamed Auto Rover Méditerranée. When BMW broke up the Rover Group in 2000, the dealer unsuccessfully sued MG Rover and BMW. It cited breach of contract, after Rover France had renewed the whole dealership network in 1998, introducing new contracts for both Rover and Land Rover.
Links with the UK company were severed completely in 2003 after relationships broke down with MG Rover. After that, the dealer took on a Hyundai franchise, but finally went bankrupt a few years later. The whole place is now awaiting demolition, to make room for a housing project nearby – as can be seen from the image below, the green and blue Austin Rover chevrons are still partially there…