Angus family garage firm Fiskens of Forfar has passed a significant milestone with the celebration of its half century.
From humble beginnings in a village garage near the Angus town, opened in February 1971, the company remains a prominent name within the Tayside motor trade, employing a staff of around 40 at its Queenswell Road base.
It has also announced a single-focus commitment to Korean manufacturer Kia as it looks to the future following a pandemic year described as the “most difficult, challenging and, at times, the most heart-breaking” in the firm’s history.
Founded by Ian and Vivian Fisken, the company had its origins at Kingsmuir Garage, between Forfar and Letham.
Decimalisation day followed garage opening
Establishing a new garage in the small village was a leap of faith and Ian recalled the timing of opening the doors brought with it an additional challenge.
“We opened the week before decimalisation, so our first customers paid in pounds, shillings and pence and then it all changed,” he said.
“The first car I actually sold was our own Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV – a lovely car – to help get us started in buying and selling cars.
“It took a bit to build up, but we were often selling eight to 10 cars a week, which was pretty good going for a little garage in Kingsmuir.
“Viv and I worked night and day, it was hard going, but happy days – I’ve been a member of Forfar Golf Club for 68 years now but I don’t think I hit a golf ball for the first five years after we started the garage.”
In November 1976, the business expanded to the former Sturrock’s garage in Forfar’s Queenswell Road.
It maintained the Kingsmuir operation, where Toyota became the first manufacturer franchise in 1975, an association which lasted until 2002.
Ian added said: “In our first year we sold 50 new Toyotas and didn’t have a single warranty claim, which I thought was quite something.
Toyota was replaced by Kia, and the company was also a Subaru dealer for a number of years.
The Kingsmuir site was sold is 1990 and is now housing.
Vauxhall franchise coming to an end
After a lengthy association with Vauxhall, the company, now with the couple’s younger son, Dougal, at its helm, is about to end that relationship.
Dougal said: “We have represented the Kia franchise since January 2004 and have witnessed unprecedented success.
“Along with most other businesses, the pandemic has made it extremely challenging to keep our business trading as normal, despite the tremendous efforts and sacrifices made by all our staff and the continuing loyalty of customers.
“We are now looking forward to concentrating all our efforts on the Kia brand. It is the rising star of the more industry with major investment in technology, innovation, design and ever-evolving electric vehicles.
“The past year has been very difficult for everyone, but these are exciting times for both the town of Forfar and Fiskens.”
Ian, 84, and Vivian, 80, plan to continue to enjoy a lifelong passion for classic vehicles, and an avenue which has seen the couple’s other son, Gregor, establish himself as one of the globe’s leading historic and racing car dealers.