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Manheim at 100: Our history - The Manheim Years


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Innovations, name changes and acquisitions, Manheim’s rich 100-year history in the UK has had it all. To mark our 100th birthday, we invite you to take a trip with us through memory lane from our humble beginnings in the 1920s to today being part of Cox Automotive, the world’s largest automotive services organisation.

In this blog, we tell the story of how we became Manheim in the UK and the journey we’ve been on since that day in 1996.

This is the second blog in a two-part series where we tell our story of a century of innovation. If you’d like to read the first part all about our early years, click here.

1996 – Two become one: ICA and Manheim in the US acquire CMA in joint venture

With John Bailey convinced that his satellite auction product, AuctionVision, could take off in the states, a business trip to the USA was on the cards. This eventually led to a meeting with Manheim, a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. The US auction giants were certainly impressed by the product and a lasting working relationship was formed.

This relationship proved to be the catalyst for the biggest shake up the UK motor auction industry had ever seen up to this point. In 1996, Manheim made waves by backing Independent Car Auction’s bid for Central Motor Auctions. The acquisition was successful, and the two businesses promptly became one, albeit retaining their own identities for the time being.

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1997 – Launch of Manheim Certified—our first mechanical assurance product

Today SureCheck is famous in the remarketing world due to the peace of mind it gives dealers when buying at auction, but it’s predecessor, Manheim Certified, first launched back in 1997.

1998 – All UK auction centres renamed Manheim

With John Bailey at the helm of the newly formed business, in 1998, further acquisitions of BRS Auctions and National Car Auction Group saw the group expand even further, now operating from 17 sites.

Shortly after, all of our UK operations, which had until now operated under their original names, were re-branded as Manheim. Manheim had officially entered the UK.

1998- 2004 – Manheim extends its service offering

Through further acquisitions, Manheim began to provide new specialist services to its customers through businesses such as VRS, kah:systems and Dent Wizard. All were integral to the wider used car market at the time.

2004 – The age of online auctions begins with launch of Manheim Simulcast

Innovation was the name of the game once more when Manheim launched the first iteration of its award-winning online auction platform, Simulcast. Containing much of the DNA from its predecessor AuctionVision, Simulcast enabled motor traders to buy and sell wholesale vehicles via a computer for the very first time.

2004 – Manheim Inspection Services launches

Now an integral part of the Manheim family today, Manheim Inspection Services can trace its origins back to 2004 where it began providing fleets with accurate and reliable end-of-contract inspections and handovers. The business was launched off the back of the Manheim Signed4 product, and originally shared its headquarters at Dunton Park on the same premises as Dent Wizard.

2005 – Pioneers of the end-to-end remarketing process – Manheim 360 launches

With so many products and services now under its belt, Manheim was truly providing customers with vital operations across the entire used vehicle journey. The time had come to unify this under one proposition, and thus Manheim 360 was born. Customers could now see clearly everything that Manheim could offer, and the proposition helped provide Manheim with a historic win at the Fleet News Awards, picking up Best Disposals/Vehicle Remarketing Company.

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2006 – Manheim re-branded globally to how we recognise it today

The Manheim brand we know today didn’t always look the same. In 2006, the business received a facelift across the globe with the introduction of its now famous blue and gold colours and updated logo. Clearly the team knocked it out of the park because the brand image remains largely unchanged to this day.

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2007-2014 – Expanding our horizons. Manheim enters Europe and new markets

Yet another period of rapid expansion saw the business spread its wings to new European markets with new Manheim operations in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Turkey, Belgium and Germany.

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During this time, new businesses, many of which are still part of the Cox Automotive family today, became part of the Manheim group. These included Modix, dealer-auction.com, Motors.co.uk, RTC, WeWantAnyCar, and the UK arm of NextGear Capital.

2012 – Largest auction centre in Europe opens with four-lane mega centre at Colchester

Inspired by the huge multi-lane auctions in the USA, Manheim Colchester became the largest auction centre in Europe—and also the first with four lanes—when we opened our mega centre. The Thursday evening sale remains one of the most famous and busiest motor auction events in the country to this day.

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2014 – Cox Automotive launches globally

With many automotive businesses around the world now under its belt, including Manheim, the time had come for Cox Enterprises to consolidate these under one brand. As a result, in 2014, Cox Automotive was created and spun off the parent company. Along with all its sister brands, Manheim was now part of Cox Automotive, the world’s largest automotive services organisation.

2016 - 2019 – Manheim SureCheck, QuickList Imagery, DataCleanse and CheckPoint launches

Following on from the success of Manheim Certified, SureCheck was launched in 2016 giving buyers added peace of mind about the mechanical condition of a vehicle before auction.

Other innovative product launches followed soon after in response to changing customer needs. These include DataCleanse which protects customers from the new the GDPR act, QuickList Imagery which provides instant high-quality vehicle imagery, and CheckPoint which provides more information on a vehicle’s history.

2017 – Another UK first with double-blocking auctions launching at Bruntingthorpe

The launch of our refreshed state-of-the-art auction centre at Bruntingthorpe presented the perfect opportunity for another UK auction first—double-blocking. The double-blocking process, which was inspired by our US operations, involves having four rostrums across two lanes. This allows more vehicles to be sold in a shorter period of time.

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2018 – We bid a fond farewell to John Bailey

In 2018 we bid a fond and emotional farewell to our leader John Bailey. Having forged a massively successful 40-year career, John played a pivotal role in so many milestones in our history. From his early years at Bristol & West, to launching the Manheim brand in the UK and later moving up the Cox Automotive International ladder, John’s vision and direction helped to build the business to what it is today. He is a true pioneer in every sense of the word.

2020 – Cox Automotive makes waves in the vehicle services sector with C Walton acquisition

In March 2020, Cox Automotive UK acquired vehicle services provider, C Walton Ltd, one of the UK’s key providers of vehicle services for manufacturers, fleet operators and dealers. The acquisition meant that through the Manheim brand, Cox Automotive could now provide vital fleet management and vehicle services on a mass scale to the new and used vehicle markets.

Today -

Manheim has certainly come a long way from its general auction roots in 1921 to part of the world’s largest automotive services organisation today. Our story is one of a century of innovation, but it’s a story that’s still being told and there are more innovations to come.

Today, Manheim is comprised of three distinct business units, Manheim Auction Services, Manheim Inspection Services and Manheim Vehicle Services. Together Manheim helps manufacturers, fleets and dealers buy, sell, process and manage their vehicle assets efficiently, profitably and confidently.

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Now under the leadership of Martin Forbes, President of Cox Automotive International, Manheim and its sister brands are transforming the way the world buys, owns, sells and uses vehicles.


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