The Company was formed in March 1960 and originally traded as Thompson and Taylor
(Russian Cars) Limited, dealing exclusively in Soviet car imports. In June 1970,
the concessionaires were taken over by the New York-based Satra Corporation and became
Satra Motors Limited. Satra is an abbreviation of Soviet American Trading and the
company was formed to promote trade between East and West.
In mid-1970, Satra Motors started to import the then new Moskvich vehicle and sales
increased dramatically over the previous year's figures. Expansion of the Satra dealer
network, combined with an energetic sales drive for the new model, accounted for
an increase from 20 dealers and sales of 300 cars in 1969 to 268 dealers and sales
of 14,500 cars in 1973. In May 1974, the first of the new Lada 1200 range - a saloon
and an estate - became available.
A new subsidiary company - Satra Belarus Limited - was formed in April 1974 to handle
to distribute Soviet Belarus agricultural tractors to the UK market, following a
twelve month testing programme with twelve wheeled and crawler tractors.
Negotiations for the importation of Soviet motorcycles commenced in the autumn of
1973 and Satra Belarus subsequently took over the UK concession from Wells Motorcycles
Ltd of Manor Park, London.
The Moskvich 1500 range and the Lada 1200 range were distributed from the Satra Motors
Car Importation and Preparation Centre, Carnaby Industrial Estate, Bridlington, North
Why Carnaby? A deep water port on Britain's east coast was needed for car imports
and nearby Hull provided the perfect solution.
In 1989, the company's sales and administration departments moved to the Midlands
and the following year Satra was taken over by TKM, giving it a solid foundation
for the '90s. Shortly afterwards, TKM itself became part of the Inchcape group, the
world's largest independent importer and distributor of motor vehicles. And so Motor
Vehicle Imports was born.
The Carnaby Car Park, the destination of every Lada bound for one of the many right
hand drive markets after it left Togliatti for the Estonian port of Tallin for its
2,000 mile journey to the Lada Import Centre in windswept East Yorkshire. Each car
in its parking bay was recorded so that a dealer processed order ould be picked easily
and quickly, taken through a high-tech de-waxing unit and car wash before entering
the main fitting bay, the Mechanical, Electrical and Trim (MET) section.
The 'MET' office where technicians linked an extractor system to the car's exhaust
and the shock absorbers and suspension, brakes, steering geometry and handbrake were
fully-computer tested to strict limits. Engine power output was also measured as
were the exhaust emissions.