Arnold Clark

Sir John Arnold Clark (27 November 1927 – 10 April 2017) was a Scottish billionaire businessman. Clark opened a showroom in Glasgow in 1954 and found some success selling cars. He expanded his business and Arnold Clark Automobiles became a nationwide chain of motor dealerships and the largest privately owned business in Scotland.

Sir Arnold Clark
Sir Arnold Clark at Park Road (cropped).jpg
Sir Arnold Clark at his original Park Road branch in Glasgow
John Arnold Clark

(1927-11-27)27 November 1927
Glasgow, Scotland
Died10 April 2017(2017-04-10) (aged 89)
Glasgow, Scotland
OrganizationArnold Clark Group

Clark kept his business family owned for more than sixty years, remaining the chairman and chief executive. In 2016, he became the first billionaire car dealer in Britain.

Early lifeEdit

John Arnold Clark was born in a tenement in Townhead, Glasgow on 27 November 1927.[2] His father was a Clydeside shipworker.[3] He attended Dennistoun Primary School and left home aged fourteen with no qualifications.[2][4] During the war, he moved to Arran.[5]

He was conscripted to the Royal Air Force (RAF) towards the end of the Second World War aged seventeen,[6] and worked as a Motor Mechanics Instructor.[2] He reached the rank of Corporal[2] and would later remark that during this period his self discipline developed; as did leadership qualities.[4]

Car salesmanEdit

An early portrait of Clark

Clark left the RAF in the early 1950s, but was unable to find employment.[4][7] He used his demob money to purchase a 1933 Morris Ten-Four for £70, and after restoring it, sold it for a profit.[8] Clark started buying and selling cars, opening his first showroom in 1954 in Glasgow's Park Road. He secured his first retail franchise for Morris Motors in 1959, then during the early 1960s established showrooms in Bothwell Street and also in Paisley and Bearsden.[9]

He launched a finance company in 1963, meaning people no longer needed to involve their bank manager when purchasing vehicles from him.[10] In the 1960s, Clark also expanded into the rental vehicle market.[11] In 1968, took over Grant, Melrose and Tennant giving the company an accident repair centre.[11] By the late 1980s, Arnold Clark had branches across Central Scotland and one in England.[12]

By September 2002, Arnold Clark had 97 dealerships and with annual sales expected to reach £1 billion, it was considered Scotland's largest private company.[13] In May 2006, the company acquired the Harry Fairbairn BMW and Mini dealership.[14] The company opened a car showroom in the regenerated Glasgow Harbour, which at the time was Europe's largest.[3] The following year Clark's company was approaching a £2 billion turnover.[15]

At the age of 80, Clark was still a director of his company, receiving a salary of £1.3 million.[16] He remained as chairman and chief executive, thus being the company's highest paid director and was receiving almost £2 million a year by 2012.[17] In September 2014, the company’s turnover reached almost £3 billion.[18]

By 2014, his wealth was estimated at £675 million, ahead of Britain's other car dealers.[19] The Sunday Times Rich List 2016 estimated that the fortune amassed by Clark and his family to be more than £1 billion, making him Britain's first billionaire car dealer.[20] He appeared on The World's Billionaires list compiled by Forbes for the first time in March 2017.[21]

Awards and honoursEdit

In the 2004 New Year Honours, Clark was created a Knight Bachelor, for services to the motor industry, and for his community work in Scotland.[4][22] The University of Glasgow bestowed an honorary degree upon him in 2005.[23] He was presented with Car Dealer Magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.[24]

Personal lifeEdit

Clark married twice, and had ten children — six sons and four daughters.[25] Clark had four sons from his first marriage, although his son Norman died in 1995 in Helensburgh at the age of 33.[6][26] His second marriage was to Philomena and they had six children together.[2][6] Clark settled in the village of Killearn[2] and was a church elder.[25][27] He died on 10 April 2017, aged 89.[8]

Car collectionEdit

Clark had an "extensive collection of classic cars", including a Ford Model T Town Car (1915), a Ford Model T Coupé (1924),[28] a Citroën Cloverleaf (1926), a Rolls Royce Park Ward Single Tourer 20hp (1928), an Austin Heavy 12 (1929).[8][29]


Clark bought the Maxi yacht Drum from Simon Le Bon in 1988.[8] The 78 foot craft is sailed with a crew of 22. That year, Clark led the annual Tobermory race, before Drum was involved in a collision with a Royal Navy submarine, around five miles off the Mull of Kintyre.[30] He loaned it back to Le Bon in 2005[31] and the yacht was often loaned to other organisations to raise money for charitable work.[32]


  1. ^ "Rich List 2016". The Sunday Times. No. page 37. 24 April 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Davison, Phil (11 April 2017). "Obituary – Sir Arnold Clark, car tycoon". The Herald. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Clark opens Clydeside showroom". The Herald. 12 August 2006. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d "Car tycoon's pride at honour". BBC News. 31 December 2003. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  5. ^ Leadbetter, Russell (20 April 2017). "Sir Arnold Clark funeral: Touching eulogy from son of 'devoted' Sir Arnold". Evening Times. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "Arnold Clark's son is found dead Son of Arnold Clark found dead at home". The Herald. 26 January 1995. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  7. ^ "The Scotsman with the golden touch". Motor Trader Magazine. 24 November 1997. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d "Scottish billionaire car dealer Sir Arnold Clark dies". BBC News. 10 April 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  9. ^ Swindon, Peter (10 April 2017). "Sir Arnold Clark 1927–2017: How Scot became Britain's first billionaire car dealer". The Herald. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  10. ^ Fraser, Douglas (11 April 2017). "Sir Arnold and the Punk". BBC News. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  11. ^ a b Pease, Victoria (10 April 2017). "Sir Arnold Clark: How £70 motor turned into car empire". STV News. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  12. ^ "Long pedigree keeps motor dealership in pole position". The Herald. 12 April 1989. p. 5. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  13. ^ "Arnold Clark on route to sales of £1bn". The Scotsman. 26 September 2002. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  14. ^ "Arnold Clark empire powers ahead Fairbairn acquired in multi-million-pound deal". The Herald. 12 May 2006. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  15. ^ "Arnold Clark buys Newcastle's Patterson". The Scotsman. 3 November 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  16. ^ "Arnold Clark drives up sales as founder sees his salary rise 30%". The Scotsman. 25 September 2008. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  17. ^ Dorsey, Kirsty (29 September 2012). "Dealership acquisition still the driving force for Arnold Clark". The Scotsman. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  18. ^ Dorsey, Kirsty (27 September 2014). "Arnold Clark turnover hits record £3 billion mark". The Scotsman. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  19. ^ Brown, Dave (20 May 2014). "Leading dealers feature prominently in Sunday Times Rich List". Car Dealer Magazine. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  20. ^ "Sir Arnold Clark 'first billionaire car dealer'". BBC News. 24 April 2016. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  21. ^ Kirsch, Noah (10 April 2017). "Billionaire Car Dealer Arnold Clark Dies At 89". Forbes. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  22. ^ "Tycoon Arnold is knighted". The Scotsman. 30 June 2004. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  23. ^ "Senate Office: Honorary Degrees 2005". University of Glasgow. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Revealed: The deserving winners of the 2015 Used Car Awards". Car Dealer Magazine. 1 December 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  25. ^ a b Williamson, Mark (1 May 2004). "Knight of the road's tale Sir Arnold Clark The Scottish motor trade's leading light has found hard work brings many rewards". The Herald. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  26. ^ "Neck injury found on Arnold Clark's son". The Herald. 27 January 1995. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  27. ^ "Sir Arnold Clark's family trust receives first dividend". The Herald. 19 April 2005. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  28. ^ "Sir Arnold Clark's classic cars: Part 1 – Ford Model T" (Press release). 2 June 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  29. ^ "Sir Arnold Clark's classic cars: Part 2 – 1920s" (Press release). 11 June 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  30. ^ Cramb, Auslan (18 July 1988). "Probe after submarine collides with yacht". The Glasgow Herald. p. 5. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  31. ^ Murray, Margaret (10 August 2005). "LeBon & Arnold Clark Drum retire from Rolex Fastnet Race". Yachts and Yachting. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  32. ^ "£250,000 Facelift for Drum". Yachting Monthly. 1 May 2007. Retrieved 11 April 2017.