Ford first began selling its cars in Malaya in 1909. They would have been imported (from Ford Canada then) by traders who imported motor vehicles, among other goods, and probably parked outside shop lots in the larger towns.
Birth of the car showroom
As sales grew, proper shops had to be provided for customers to view the cars and the car showroom was born. Over time, some showrooms would include a workshop at the back to provide aftersales services to owners. In the 1980s, this would become known as the ‘3S’ outlet – offering sales, service and spare parts in one location.
These two pictures show how Ford showrooms in Malaysia have changed over the years. In 1979, the brand’s cars were imported and distributed by Wearne Brothers which had been associated with the brand from as far back as the 1920s.
Ford showrooms in the 1960s
In the 1960s, it established a subsidiary, Universal Cars, which was dedicated to sales of Ford vehicles. The flagship Ford showroom then was along Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur. That stretch of road from the junction with Jalan Treacher (Jalan Sultan Ismail today) had showrooms of other brands as well – Toyota, Land Rover, Volkswagen, Renault and Audi.
In those days, car showrooms were not air-conditioned and simply a place where cars were put on display. There were no amenities like lounges or refreshments for visitors. Generally, discussions were held at the desk of the salesman. This outlet also had a workshop behind and also a small Shell petrol station at one corner.
21st century car showroom
The pictures above show today’s Ford showroom. It is the flagship showroom of Sime Darby Auto ConneXion, a subsidiary of Sime Darby Motors which has represented the brand since 2007. However, Sime Darby’s association with Ford goes back to the early 1980s when it took over from Wearne Brothers.
Located in Sime Darby Motors City in Ara Damansara, Selangor, it is a very spacious air-conditioned showroom which can accommodate many vehicles. Customers have a lounge to wait in (with free nasi lemak and refreshments, as well as wifi), and rooms to discuss their purchase. Being a 3S outlet, it also has a service centre in the same building.