In 1954 Norman Ashley, his wife, Christine, and their three sons Michael, Peter and John, left 'Yat Garage', in Ross On Wye, and headed down to sunny Torbay to open a new garage.
Central Garage in Milton Street, Brixham, was born and consisted of a small workshop and 2 pairs of petrol pumps.
Having run a garage previously, they knew what was needed to be successful and started to build up the business, focussing, as always, on exceptional customer service.
Sadly, in 1958, aged only 56, Norman Ashley died and left Christine and their three sons to continue his legacy.
A year later, in 1959, after five successful years of trading, it was time to expand. Some adjacent land, including another house for the growing family to live in, was purchased and a new car lot was built.
This expansion of the company continued in 1961 with the addition of a brand new purpose built workshop featuring a 'state of the art' hydraulic lift.
In 1965, Michael, Peter and John purchased an adjoining property and decided to convert it into a new car showroom, really lifting the profile of Central Garage and showing off the 'Standard Triumph' range of cars that were available at the time.
By 1967, business was booming. Central Garage had earned a reputation in Torbay for their continued customer service and good value for money. To be able to accommodate this extra trade, a large workshop was erected behind the showroom. This workshop is still Central Garages' main Brixham workshop.
As Central Garages' customer base grew, new demands had to be met. One of these was Body Repairs. So, in 1973, in true Central Garage fashion, a new Body and Paint division was built.
Tragedy struck in 1975 when Peter and John lost their eldest brother Michael, aged only 40, and, in 1977, their mother Christine sadly passed away, too.
John and Peter were truly on their own now and the future of Central Garage was in their hands.
Over the next six years or so, John and Peter stuck to their predecessors' formula. Keep offering a brilliant standard of service and good value at the same time. Also to put profits back into the business to be able to expand when the need arises.
Central Garage continued to evolve with Simon, Peter's eldest son, joining the family business in the late 1980s.
Central Garage now had the Rover franchise and was selling hundreds of new Rovers every year. When John's eldest son, Scott, and Peter's youngest son, David, joined the company in the early 1990s, the Brixham base was at full capacity and had expanded as much as it could.
Then, in 1995, the Ashley family purchased the old Travis Perkins site on Newton Road, in Torquay. It had the space inside for plenty of offices and a large showroom, including a seven-bay workshop, and ample space outside for a large selection of used cars.
Construction got under way and on fireworks night in 1995, Central Garage in Torquay opened its doors for the first time.
Straight away, the Ashley family knew that the Torquay branch was a good move.
New customers from farther afield were coming to buy cars and sample Central Garages Torbay customer service.
Peter and Simon looked after the Brixham branch
whilst John, Scott and David moved to the Torquay branch to ensure that standards didn't drop.
Ten years later, disaster struck. MG Rover went into administration. It was a shock to the family, as they had stuck with the brand through all its previous marques.
They were approached by several manufacturers, keen to combine Central Garages' service with their brand. The family didn't want a big volume brand fearing that the personal touch from Central Garage might disappear. They chose Mazda.
Taking on the Mazda franchise worked well. Central Garage was able to offer a good range of cars and many existing customers were happy to trade up to a Mazda.
As usual though Central Garage continued to make sure there was a large selection of quality used cars available at competitive prices.
In 2014, however, Mazda took the decision to only have large dealer groups selling new Mazdas. At this point, Central Garage was the second placed dealer in the UK for customer satisfaction!
Since MG Rover's demise, in 2005, the company that bought them had been developing the MG brand and planned to bring the marque back to the UK.
Shanghai Automotive Industries (SAIC) have been spending millions on the old Longbridge site and were looking for dealers to sell the All New range of MGs.
Central Garage was approached by MG and, after visiting Longbridge and testing the cars, agreed to return to selling MG cars again.
Sadly, on December 9th 2017, Central Garages lost John Ashley after a long illness. This left Scott and David to run the Torquay Branch.
In 2018 the Family decided to follow their hearts and ended the MG Franchise to concentrate on their passion for Used Cars. This enabled the Showroom to be used for Prestige cars and Scott and David to put all of their resources into Used Cars.
So, that's a brief history... up to now.
Central Garages Torbay are looking forward to the next 60 years, with another generation of the Ashley family coming into the business.